Road ahead in 2013 won't be easy for new Congress - New York News

Road ahead in 2013 won't be easy for new Congress

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WASHINGTON -

There is a new congress in town.  Senators and house members will be sworn in Thursday, and they will very quickly have some big decisions to make.

Questions about raising the nation's debt ceiling -- and first and foremost, deciding whether House Speaker John Boehner should keep his job.

Boehner has had a tough job -- even Democrats would give him that, but will he still be Speaker after today?

Rep. Darrell Issa says, "Is there someone going to challenge him? No, I don't expect it."

Maybe not, but he burned through a lot of political capital in recent days during the fiscal cliff standoff.  And he had to backtrack after being hammered for not pushing through a Hurricane Sandy relief bill, with even Republican Governor Chris Christie piling on.

"Have some guts. Put it up, vote yes or no and let's move on," said Christie.

But that also shows the tough balancing act for Boehner.

The Sandy relief package was loaded with pork, infuriating conservative Republicans in the House.  Just three examples: The E.P.A. got $600 million for climate change issues; the National Park Service, $348 million and Amtrak, $188 million, far more than needed for any actual storm damage critics say.

And all of this will be done with borrowed money.  And the real fiscal battle still lies ahead.

President Obama will ask Congress to raise the nation's borrowing limit, allowing the debt to grow well beyond its current $16 trillion dollars.

Boehner, if he's still Speaker, will have to decide whether to back fiscal hawks who are already gearing up for a tooth and nail fight with the President over runaway spending.

Now Boehner is expected to be reelected today -- Republicans still control the house.

And while there's no question that some House Republicans are grumbling about Boehner, it's not clear who would be in a position to take his place.

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