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Speaker-to-be John Boehner: More confrontation or a hint of compromise?

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But Democrats insist that Boehner’s past record of bipartisanship has been more than eclipsed by his switch to relentless opposition in the Obama years. “Our work together on No Child Left Behind was one moment in time that has itself been left behind,” said Mr. Miller, now chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, in a statement. “Everything since has been partisan opposition to issues of great importance to America’s middle class.”

Under Boehner’s leadership, House Republicans counted it a victory to unanimously oppose the Obama administration’s $814 billion stimulus plan, health-care reform, financial regulation, and small business tax cuts. On the House floor, he turned “Hell, no…!” into a mantra during the health-care debate and, more recently, while campaigning for Republican candidates. President Obama, in turn, repeatedly labeled Boehner an obstructionist out of touch with the needs of the middle class.

Will it now be confrontation or compromise?

What he would do with the gavel

When former Rep. Dennis Hastert (R) of Illinois was speaker, he set as a principle that he would only bring legislation to the floor if it had the support of “a majority of the majority.” Boehner says he would not insist on that threshold, noting that he wants to open up the legislative process. That would make the chamber more democratic – with a decidedly small "d" – but it would also come with risks. Democrats could use amendments to maximize tough votes for the GOP majority – a standard tactic for the party out of power – and put vulnerable freshmen at risk in 2012.

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