Player of the week: Rep. John Boehner

John Boehner will become House Speaker on Wednesday, capping a stunning political comeback that has spanned a dozen years.

In 1998, Boehner was removed from House Republican leadership after a disappointing election for the GOP. He later started to climb back up the leadership ladder, first as chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee, shepherding the No Child Left Behind Act to President George W. Bush’s desk.

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Five years later, he triumphed in his bid for majority leader over then-Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). His dream of grabbing the Speaker’s gavel was set back after Democrats took control of the House in 2006 and bolstered their majority in 2008. Some blamed Boehner, but he successfully fended off challenges to his minority-leader post.

Many on Capitol Hill will be closely watching to see whether Boehner, who is prone to tears, gets emotional as he officially becomes the top member of the lower chamber. But what will be more telling will be his first speech as the 61st Speaker. 

In an interview with The Hill last year, Boehner said, “If we gain the majority and I am Speaker, I’m going to run the House differently than it’s being run today and I’m going to run it differently than my Republican predecessors ran it.”

He later added, “It’s time to get really serious about fiscal responsibility. Not just talk about it, but deliver.”

Boehner doesn’t plan to run the House with as much partisan muscle as some of his predecessors. He will give more power to his committee chairmen, and has reminded his House colleagues of one of his favorite sayings: You can disagree without being disagreeable.

Over the last couple of months, Boehner’s transition from minority leader to Speaker-elect was relatively smooth, but the transition is over. Now the heavy lifting begins.