Republicans take charge of US House

Republicans take charge of US House Washington: The new Republican majority in the House of Representatives takes power on Wednesday and vows to open a legislative battle with President Barack Obama over the size of government and how much it spends.

Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, a liberal from San Francisco, turns over her speaker's gavel to Rep John Boehner, a Midwestern conservative who plans to quickly stage a vote to repeal Obama's health care overhaul.

He and new Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the health care repeal vote fulfils promises the party made in the November election that swept Republicans back in control of the Lower House.

The vote next week was expected to pass in the House but die in the Senate, where Democrats still hold the majority. That outcome could serve as a template for divided-government legislative gridlock in the final two years of Obama's term.

Boehner, in remarks prepared for delivery when he takes office today, said Republicans' goal is to give the government back to the people and provide honesty and accountability.

He said lawmakers have been reminded just how temporary the privilege to serve is, a reference to Democrats' defeat in November, and said Congress "can no longer fall short."

Boehner says "a great deal of scar tissue" has built up on both sides of the aisle and cannot be ignored, but both Republicans and Democrats believe they are working for the common good.

For now, both parties will build their election-year cases in the congressional arena.

They began today when Boehner joined Pelosi and others at a bipartisan prayer service at St Peter's Roman Catholic Church near the Capitol.

With the country still mired in a wobbly economic recovery and battered by near 10 per cent unemployment, Obama said he's counting on Republicans' hot ideological positions to cool as the congressional session moves forward.

"I'm pretty confident that they're going to recognise that our job is to govern and make sure that we are delivering jobs for the American people and that we are creating a competitive economy for the 21st century," Obama had said yesterday on his return flight from a two-week family holiday in Hawaii.