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New Congress Officially Opens For Business

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio greets House members during the first session of the 112th Congress on Wednesday. i i

hide captionSpeaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio greets House members during the first session of the 112th Congress on Wednesday.

Charles Dharapak/AP
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio greets House members during the first session of the 112th Congress on Wednesday.

Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio greets House members during the first session of the 112th Congress on Wednesday.

Charles Dharapak/AP

The 112th Congress, in which Republicans control the House and Democrats have a slimmer Senate majority, officially began at noon Wednesday.

C-Span is carrying it live on its cable channel and live-streaming it on C-SPAN.org.

The opening prayer was just delivered by Rev. Daniel Coughlin. He prayed that members would not look to their narrow self-interests but the nation's.

We won't have to wait long to see how that one is answered.

After the prayer, exiting House Clerk Lorraine Miller attended to some of the required House business, asking members who hadn't picked up their official voting cards to do so.

This gave House members a chance to mill about the House floor, bustling not just with legislators but family members.

Both Republicans and Democrats approached the new speaker, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), and posed for photos with him on a historic day. Boehner, known for his very active tear ducts, could be seen wiping his nose and eyes with a handkerchief.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) could also be seen greeting and posing with fellow lawmakers on the House floor as the first woman to ever be speaker returned to her previous role as minority leader of the Democrats. As she sat, it was with a granddaughter by her side.

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) placed Boehner's name into nomination as a "unique man" who "at a time when too many doubt that their children will have a chance to live the American dream, he has lived the American dream and will protect it for others to come after him." Republicans cheered and applauded loudly after Hensarling finished.

Rep. John Larson (D-CT) then put Pelosi's name into nomination for the speaker's post, though with Republicans' far superior numbers, the outcome was never in doubt.

If there was a discordant note, it came from the Democrats. When the roll call of votes was called, as Republicans uniformly voted for Boehner, on the Democratic side Rep. Heath Shuler and Rep. John Lewis got votes, as well as at least one "present" vote from a Georgia Democrat.

Since Election Day, some House Democrats have argued that their party needed a new face as leader because Pelosi was effectively demonized by Republicans in the midterm elections.

But Pelosi continues to have a lot of loyalty in the Democratic caucus. She is seen as an extremely tough and effective legislator and fundraiser and is a favorite with the Democratic Party's liberal base.

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