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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 February 2006, 23:50 GMT
US House Republicans pick leader
John Boehner
John Boehner portrayed himself as a reformer
Republicans in the US House of Representatives have elected a new leader after the former leader Tom DeLay was forced to stand down.

John Boehner, of Ohio, edged out the acting majority leader Roy Blunt, who was seen as an ally of Mr DeLay.

Mr DeLay relinquished his post after he was indicted in Texas over a campaign finance scandal last year.

The vote comes in the wake of the admission of corruption by a lobbyist who had ties to Republicans.

Under the terms of a plea bargain, the lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, will co-operate with a probe into alleged corruption among Congress members.

Correspondents say the question of ethics has dominated the 24-day election campaign for the House post.

The Republicans hope to avoid political reversals in mid-term elections in November, when control of both houses of Congress is at stake.

New focus

Correspondents say Mr Boehner, a chain-smoking Congressman with 16 years of experience, came from behind in the race by portraying himself as a reformer.

He defeated Mr Blunt by 122 votes to 109, after trailing in the first round of voting.

A third contender, John Shadegg, was eliminated after lagging behind his opponents in the initial round.

In his first public appearance, Mr Boehner said it was time for a new focus.

"What you're going to see us do is rededicate ourselves to dealing with issues, big issues, that the American people expect us to deal with in terms of trying to improve their incomes, their prospects for jobs and to provide better security for Americans all over this country," he said.

Mr Boehner becomes the number two Republican in the House after Speaker Dennis Hastert.

Mr Blunt remains the Republican whip, the number three leadership position.

"Believe me, the world goes on," he said.

Mr Blunt is seen as having close links to some of the most influential lobbyists in the country.

Ethics fears

The embattled Mr DeLay gave up his attempt to reclaim his post as majority leader last month.

Some Republicans had expressed concern about the impact of Mr DeLay's legal battles and his long-term ties to Abramoff on the mid-term elections.

Mr DeLay denies laundering corporate contributions for use in Republican campaigns in Texas.

The US justice department is believed to be investigating as many as 20 members of Congress and aides implicated in the Abramoff scandal.

The lobbyist is accused of using gifts of money, foreign trips and lavish meals to buy political influence.


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SEE ALSO:
Republicans unveil lobbying curbs
18 Jan 06 |  Americas
DeLay relinquishes Congress post
07 Jan 06 |  Americas
The hum you hear is from lobbyists
04 Jan 06 |  Americas


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