WASHINGTON — House Speaker John Boehner’s prospects for a new term appeared secure Monday despite grumblings from tea party-aligned dissidents on the eve of a Republican takeover of Congress, while Republican leaders in both houses pointed toward a swift veto showdown with President Obama over the long-stalled Keystone XL pipeline.

Senate Republicans, winners of a majority in last fall’s elections, began laying down markers for legislative battles ahead. “Tax reform should not be used as an excuse to raise taxes on the American people,” wrote Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, who will become chairman of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee. “Any such effort is a needless distraction,” he said, pointedly rejecting a long-held view of the White House and many Democrats.

Tax reform was a distant target as congressional veterans and newcomers alike looked ahead to a day of pomp and ceremony beneath the Capitol Dome.

Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell’s ascension Tuesday to the post of Senate majority leader was automatic after his approval by rank-and-file Republicans late last year.

That wasn’t the case in the House, where the election of a speaker is the main event on any opening day’s agenda. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas put himself forward as a challenger, and roughly a dozen Republicans have announced they will oppose Boehner’s election. But that was far short of the number needed to place his election in jeopardy.

“Rep. Boehner was selected as the House Republican Conference’s choice for speaker in November, and he expects to be elected by the whole House this week,” said his spokesman, Michael Steel.

Nor did any of the rebels predict they would succeed in toppling the 65-year-old Ohioan. Instead, they said the current high command wasn’t conservative enough.

Virginia Rep. Dave Brat, who defeated former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a primary last summer, said the Republican leadership has “strayed from its own principles of free market, limited government, constitutional conservatism. We are at a crucial turning point in our country’s history.”

Two years ago, Boehner was faced with similar criticism, and sweated out his election to a second term.

His hand is considerably stronger this year as a result of the Republican election victories. The party will hold 246 House seats in the new Congress to 188 for the Democrats, the biggest Republican majority in nearly 70 years.

The intra-party leadership struggle underscored the political peril facing Republicans as they looked ahead to two-house control of Congress. Yet the evident ability to pass Keystone pipeline legislation showed their potential to advance an agenda.

Republicans stand ready to cast the measure as a bipartisan jobs bill of the type that should be signed into law. Leaders intend to push the bill through the House late this week, and appear to have more than enough votes to move it through the Senate as well.

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