Cast: John Boehner
John Boehner (Bay-ner), elected to represent the Eighth Congressional District of Ohio for a ninth term in November 2006, continues to be a key leader in the fight for a more limited and accountable federal government.
Born in Cincinnati in November 1949 as one of 12 brothers and sisters, John has lived in Southwest Ohio his entire life. He and his wife Debbie have been married for 33 years. They have two daughters - Lindsay and Tricia - and live in the northern Cincinnati suburb of West Chester. After graduating from Cincinnati's Moeller High School in 1968, John earned a bachelor's degree in business from Xavier University in Cincinnati in 1977.
Upon his graduation, he accepted a position with Nucite Sales, a small sales business in the packaging and plastics industry, and eventually became president of the firm. While working in the private sector, John entered the political arena - first serving as Union Township trustee from 1982 to 1984 and then as a representative to the Ohio state legislature from 1984 to 1990.
In 1990, he was elected to represent Ohio's Eighth Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. His time in Congress has been highlighted by several government reform initiatives. His efforts include providing accountability and choice in education, ensuring workers' pension benefits are there when they retire, and fighting to rein in worthless pork barrel spending. He has been a vocal advocate for tax relief and spending restraint, and is an active supporter of rooting out waste, fraud, and abuse in the federal budget.
His first two terms in the House were marked by an aggressive campaign to clean up Congress and make it more accountable to the American people. During his freshman year, Boehner and fellow members of the reform-minded "Gang of Seven" took on the House establishment and successfully closed the House Bank, uncovered "dine-and-dash" practices at the House Restaurant, and exposed drug sales and cozy cash-for-stamps deals at the House Post Office.
Later, John was instrumental in crafting the Contract with America, the bold 100-day agenda for the 104th Congress that nationalized the 1994 elections. One of the Contract's cornerstones - the Congressional Accountability Act, requiring Congress to live under the same rules and regulations as the rest of the nation - bears the unmistakable imprint of his drive to reform the House.
The success of John's reform-minded agenda earned him election to the House Republican leadership after the Republican election victories in 1994. While in Congress, John has never lost sight of the need for greater fiscal responsibility in the federal government - a hallmark of his career as a small business owner. As House Republican Conference Chairman in the 104th and 105th Congress, John was a powerful voice in the fight to force Washington to stick to the strict spending limits in the Balanced Budget Act. More recently, in 109th Congress, Boehner led passage of new reforms clamping down on earmarks - special interest projects quietly inserted into spending bills.
In September 1999, as Vice-Chairman of the House Administration Committee, John joined former House Speaker Dennis Hastert to announce the first-ever "clean" independent audit of the House - a reform he first called for as a member of the Gang of Seven in 1992. "It was a proud day for the man who joined the committee in part because of his expertise in accountability and advocacy of government entities run by private-sector principles," Roll Call, a top Capitol Hill news source, observed.
John is also active in education reform issues. In 1994, he passed legislation with strong bipartisan support allowing school districts to use their Title I funds for public school choice programs, under which parents could choose which public school their children would attend.
In January 2001, John was selected by House Republicans to chair the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Five months later, John's No Child Left Behind Act - a bill bringing transparency and accountability to the public education system, bolstering the case for school choice - passed the House with overwhelmingly bipartisan support. On January 8, 2002, President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act in Hamilton - a city in Boehner's congressional district. And he did so in what he called one of the most important places in America: a public school.
As committee chairman, Boehner also authored the Pension Protection Act - the most sweeping reform of America's pension laws in more than 30 years. On August 17, 2006, President Bush signed Boehner's pension bill into law which, according to an op-ed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "will make it possible for millions of Americans to save more now for a better future."
Boehner's congressional district ranks among the largest agricultural districts in the State of Ohio, and for many years he was Ohio's sole voice on the House Agriculture Committee. John was the driving force behind the Freedom to Farm Act of 1996 - legislation freeing American agriculture from intrusive government regulation - and he was a leading opponent of 2002 legislation that reversed many of these important free-market reforms. Each year he hosts the Ohio Farm Forum, an event featuring distinguished panelists and keynote speakers, including U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture and leaders in farming and agri-business. Farm Forum draws hundreds of individuals from around the Buckeye State with an interest in agriculture.
On November 17, 2006, Boehner was elected by his colleagues to serve as House Republican Leader. Boehner believes Republicans can earn back the majority in Congress by getting back to their core principles and focusing on developing new ideas that win broad-based support among the American people. Since February 2006 when Boehner was elected to serve as House Majority Leader, he has worked to reinvigorate the spirit of reform that first brought him to Congress.