Wednesday, January 5, 2011

112th Congress Brings New Faces, New Priorities

January 5, 2011

In a highly charged atmosphere on Capitol Hill today, all 535 Members of the House and Senate were sworn in during the opening of the 112th Congress. Among the new member make-up are 96 Representatives (87 R, 9D) -- constituting almost a fourth of the body -- and 16 Senators (13 R, 3 D), who will take their places alongside their incumbent colleagues. The balance of power has shifted in the House, reflecting the new Republican majority with 242 Members. The House majority will be led by Representative John Boehner (R-OH) as Speaker, Representative Eric Cantor (R-VA) as Majority Leader, and Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as Majority Whip. 

House Democratic Leadership has the same headliners as the last Congress, but with different titles—Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will serve as Minority Leader, Steny Hoyer (D-MD) as Minority Whip, and Jim Clyburn (D-SC) as Assistant to the Leader.  The Senate is still held by the Democrats, with 53 Ds, led by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV); Senate Republicans will be led by Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). And given the increase in GOP Senators to 47, the likelihood of Senate deadlock is high since a total of 60 votes will be needed to proceed on almost every issue.

House Republicans plan to kick off the session by tackling some of their highest priorities right away, including reducing the deficit and repeal of health care reform. The Senate will get started by looking inward with proposals to reform their chamber’s rules on the filibuster and bill holds, among other initiatives.

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