John Boehner has been elected speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, formalizing the Republican takeover of the 435-member chamber from President Barack Obama's Democrats.
Boehner, from the state of Ohio, was awarded the gavel on January 5 as lawmakers were sworn in to start the 112th Congress.
Boehner's rise to the helm of the House was guaranteed in November, when voters in the midterm U.S. elections voted out the Democratic majority and returned the Republicans to power.
In a speech to the House, Boehner acknowledged that Republican lawmakers must now try to fulfill campaign promises to cut taxes, reduce the size of the U.S. government, and help create conditions for an increase in jobs.
"We gather here today at a time of great challenges," he said. "Nearly one in 10 of our neighbors is out of work. Health-care costs are still rising for American families. Our spending has caught up with us and our debt soon will eclipse the entire size of our national economy. Hard work and tough decisions will be required of the 112th Congress. No longer can we fall short. No longer can we kick the can down the road. The people voted to end business as usual, and today we begin to carry out their instructions."
The Republicans are expected as early as next week to hold a vote on legislation repealing the Obama-led U.S. health-care reform that was passed in 2010. But this measure is expected to be blocked in the Senate, where the Democrats continue to maintain a majority.
As speaker, Boehner is second in the line of succession behind Vice President Joe Biden, in case the president dies or becomes unable to serve.
compiled from agency reports