Fresh off his reelection as House speaker Wednesday afternoon, John Boehner emphasized the need for bold leadership in order to repair the ailing economy, telling reporters that job creation remains the top priority for congressional Republicans.
"Our majority is a primary line of defense for the American people against a government that spends too much, borrows too much when left unchecked," said Boehner, R-Ohio. "With so many challenges that are ahead of us, the American people need to see us act courageously, think selflessly and lead boldly. And our majority is up to the task, and I expect the president is, as well."
A short time earlier, the House Republican Conference voted Boehner in to another two-year term as speaker.
Boehner rejected the president's call earlier Wednesday for House Republicans to quickly pass Senate legislation that would extend middle class tax cuts, and he alternatively called on the Senate to take up House-passed legislation to extend all of the current tax rates for one year.
"Instead of the House moving on the Senate bill, the Senate ought to move on the House bill," Boehner said. "We are not going to hurt our economy and make job creation more difficult, which is exactly what that plan would do. It's not the direction that we want to go because it's going to hurt job creators in America."
Boehner is set to join President Obama, Senate Majority Harry Reid, D-Nev., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., at the White House on Friday to begin conversations on the fiscal cliff.
The fiscal cliff, which includes expiring tax cuts for the rich and middle class, $1 trillion in automatic spending cuts set to take effect next year, and a debt limit increase, remains the most daunting challenge for Congress during the lame duck session.
Despite the vast disagreement between Republicans and Democrats on taxes, the speaker said he remains "optimistic" that leaders will be able to avert a crisis.
"If you've looked closely at what the president had to say and you look closely at what I have had to say, you know, there are not barriers here to sitting down and beginning to work through this process," Boehner said. "I don't think anyone on either side of the aisle underestimates the difficulty that faces us.
"You've got members on both sides of the aisle, you know, who have their own ideas about how to resolve this," he added. "If we stay focused on what's in the best interest of our country and what's in the best interests of the American people, I'm confident that this issue can be resolved."