House Republicans tabbed Minority Leader John A. Boehner - who helped lead his party's historic takeover of the chamber in the midterm elections - as the new House speaker, while Nancy Pelosi, who has held the post for almost four years, was chosen minority leader by her Democratic peers.
Mr. Boehner's election was unanimous, while Mrs. Pelosi had a slightly tougher path, fending off a symbolic challenger and a vote to postpone her election.
"I'm honored and humbled to have the trust and confidence of my colleagues as we begin this journey," the Ohio Republican said.
Mrs. Pelosi easily turned back a challenge for minority leader from moderate North Carolina Rep. Heath Shuler. The vote was 150-43, with California's Mrs. Pelosi keeping her post as the No. 1 House Democrat despite a net loss of more than 60 House seats for her party in the midterm elections.
Mr. Shuler, a member of the conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats, said he didn't expect to win but hoped to draw attention to concerns among party centrists about Mrs. Pelosi's leadership and that the caucus was being pushed too far to the political left.
"It wasn't about wining races, it was about having a voice in the caucus ... to ensure moderates were heard," he said.
Mrs. Pelosi also survived a de facto vote of no confidence when a proposal floated by a group of House Democrats to delay picking their leadership team until later in the year was defeated by about two-thirds of the caucus.
Rep. Peter A. DeFazio of Oregon, who helped lead the push to delay Wednesday's leadership votes, said there was "concern among a considerable number of the rank and file about how we got to this point, and how we move forward."
Mr. DeFazio added that "the greatest failing of this Congress was that the House ... enabled the White House, and the White House was not always right."
Mrs. Pelosi dismissed criticisms that she should step down from the House Democratic hierarchy, saying it's a "very diverse" leadership team that has been successful before and will be successful again.
"The message we received from the American people is they want a job, they want jobs," she said. "Nine-and-a-half [percent] unemployment is a very tough screen to get through with any other message."
Rep. John B. Larson of Connecticut, who retained his position as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said House Democrats are solidly behind "this great leader" Mrs. Pelosi, saying the members "know her will, [and] most importantly - they know her heart."
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland will retain his spot as the caucus' No. 2 leader, as he was elected House minority whip.
And in move intended to avoid intraparty strife, current House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, who initially challenged Mr. Hoyer for whip, was elected to the newly created position of assistant minority leader.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, who has served as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee since 2006, was elected the ranking member of the House Budget Committee.
On the Republican side, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia as expected was elected House majority leader, saying House Republicans "now have a golden opportunity and a second chance to lead and deliver results" after voters booted them from power in the 2006 congressional elections.
"I listened to people from coast-to-coast and understand how frustrated they are with Washington," he said. "They fear that the America they know and love is changing for the worse."
House Republicans also elected Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California as majority whip; Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas as conference chairman; Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas as National Republican Congressional Committee chairman; and Rep. Tom Price of Georgia as Policy Committee chairman.
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Sean Lengell covers Congress and national politics and can be reached at email@example.com.
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