In the last several weeks alone, Mr. Boehner has watched, in humiliation, as his so-called Plan B, an alternative to tax cuts adopted by Congress on Tuesday, collapsed for lack of Republican support. He was sidelined in fiscal negotiations between Republicans and the White House, and then forced to accept a package many of his members opposed. Then Republicans from New York and New Jersey turned against him when he delayed a vote on $60 billion in aid to victims of Hurricane Sandy.

And in the next few months, he will face new confrontations with President Obama over automatic spending cuts set to go into effect in March, and the so-called debt ceiling, which must be raised so that the government can borrow more money. Once again, Mr. Boehner will have to contend with the conservatives in his party, who remain furious over the recent tax legislation because it did not include spending cuts…

“He wants to do something big,” said his communications director, Kevin Smith. “He’s been here for 22 years, and becoming speaker is the first time he’s had a real serious opportunity himself to lead an effort to do something big for this country in terms of getting spending under control. He wants to do something big on entitlements, and he wants to do something big on tax reform. That’s why he’s here.”…

“It’s a little bit like being the head caretaker of the cemetery,” said Representative Hal Rogers, the Kentucky Republican, describing the challenge Mr. Boehner faces. “There are a lot of people under you, but nobody listens.”