This historic day full of pomp and circumstance got underway at 9:00 am ET with a bipartisan interfaith prayer service attended by the House leadership and rank and file members in honor of American military men and women.
At noon ET, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) becomes the first woman Speaker of the House and partakes in the swearing-in ceremony with all the members of the 110th Congress. Later this afternoon, Speaker Pelosi partakes in ceremonial swearing-ins in the Rayburn Room at the US Capitol.
Tonight, a celebration concert takes place at the National Building Museum at 6:30 pm ET where Speaker Pelosi is expected to make remarks.
Be sure to tune into ABC News' live coverage of the Capitol Hill events at 2:00 pm ET and all day on abcnews.com, ABC News Now, and ABC News Radio.
In the other body, Senators participated in a closed press bipartisan caucus meeting at 9:00 am ET. The new Senate convenes at noon ET for Vice President Cheney to administer the oaths of office in groups of four before heading over to the Old Senate Chamber later this afternoon for individual reenactments of the Senators being sworn into office.
President Bush meets with the Chancellor of Germany in the Oval Office at 5:00 pm ET and then the two leaders plan to make statements to cameras at 6:20 pm ET.
Fresh from filing paperwork yesterday with the Federal Election Commission to form a presidential exploratory committee, outgoing Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) plans to hold a 1:45 pm ET photo-op/media availability outside of his campaign headquarters (instantly well stocked with BlackBerries and working phone lines for his brand new campaign staff) in the North End of Boston.
Romney has not yet decided when and how to formally "declare" his candidacy. But money raised by Romney's "exploratory" committee can be used on his White House bid. In fact, it's the same account.
Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) has a packed schedule today attending many of his colleagues' swearing-in receptions. Yesterday, per the Chicago Sun Times' Lynn Sweet, he stopped by the Chicago offices of his media strategist, David Axelrod. LINK
Sen. Obama, now in the majority, also plans to preside over the Senate for the first time today at 3:15 pm ET.
In Boston, Gov.-elect Deval Patrick (D-MA) takes the oath of office today. Gov. Lynch (D-NH), Gov. Douglas (R-VT), and Gov. Heineman (R-NE) also all participate in their inaugural events today.
US Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Thomas Donohue briefed reporters on the organization's 2007 policy objectives and priorities at 9:30 am ET.
An era of bipartisanship?:
"I think you are looking for a lot more gridlock than common ground," said ABC News' George Stephanopoulos on "Good Morning America" when sizing up the new Congress and its relationship with President Bush.
". . . behind the talk by both Republicans and Democrats about working together lie competing agendas and principles that may be at fundamental odds," write ABC News' Jake Tapper and Toni Wilson. LINK
Tapper also blogs on the "leaked" memo from the office of incoming Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to his Democratic colleagues. LINK
The Boston Globe's Rick Klein lays out how "early signs of bipartisan corporation have all but evaporated on Capitol Hill." LINK
In his White House Memo, New York Timesman Jim Rutenberg also wonders how long a commitment to bipartisanship will last, but one gesture Rutenberg Notes that the White House did arrange for a plane to bring Democratic Sens. Harry Reid and Dick Durbin back to Washington, DC from the Ford funeral in Michigan to make it to the President's congressional reception last night. LINK
Faye Fiore and Tina Daunt of the Los Angeles Times offer a Pelosi profile with details ranging from her task of finding consensus among her diverse caucus to her choice of The Grateful Dead as her favorite band. LINK
USA Today's Kathy Kiely writes up the "wave of women making political history" this Thursday. LINK
In the first in a series of occasional articles on the new Democratic-controlled Congress, the Washington Post's Michael Grunwald and Juliet Eilperin write that the new Speaker "must come to terms with her party's own troubles" on the "culture of corruption." LINK
The San Francisco Chronicle reports on Pelosi festivities today, who made the guest list for some of the low key celebratory parties tonight, and a report on last night's Italian Embassy party that included entertainment by Tony Bennett and James Taylor. LINK
The Chronicle also goes into detail on the long voting process for Speaker of the House that will occur today. LINK
With a healthy dose of skepticism that congressional behavior will be dramatically altered, Fredreka Schouten of USA Today writes up the Democratic plan to reform the lobbying/legislator relationship and the push to limit earmarks. LINK
In a story looking at House Democrats preparing to tighten lobbyist rules, the Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman and Jeffrey Birnbaum report that "a number of loopholes in the proposal have led ethics watchdogs to warn Democrats that their work will be far from done, even if the new rules are secured today." LINK
Carl Hulse and David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times cover similar ground. LINK
The Los Angeles Times: LINK
The Wall Street Journal's John McKinnon and John Fialka report that "worried industries and their trade groups" are responding to the new Democratic Congress by "hiring new lobbying talent, planning mass-market ad campaigns and, in some cases, focusing on getting goodies attached to legislation that they would rather see killed but know they can't stop."
The Wall Street Journal's Greg Ip and Christopher Conkey report that Rep. Barney Frank's (D-MA) "grand bargain" represents a "road map" on how Democrats "may strike deals to aid unionization, expand health-care coverage and find common ground on other issues, while giving businesses concessions on immigration, trade and investment."
For the Political Radar, ABC News' Teddy Davis looks at Frank's "grand bargain" LINK
as well as his dismissal of the charge aired last year that he and Pelosi will use the Democrats' House majority to impose a "radical homosexual agenda" on the country. LINK
The Washington Post's Steve Mufson reports that House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel and House Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell want to be able to hold hearings on Democratic plans to shift oil tax incentives to renewable energy. "As a result, Pelosi will probably introduce the revenue-raising components first and set aside the money in a 'fund' to be divvied up later. Renewable energy lobbyists said that would set off a feeding frenzy among boosters of hydropower, nuclear, biofuel, geothermal and solar energy." LINK
The Wall Street Journal's ed board writes that the "rush" to pass the Democrats' agenda is "enough to make us wonder if they're afraid that some of their ideas won't hold up under scrutiny."
In a separate editorial, the Wall Street Journal wonders whether one possible benefit of the new era of divided government in Washington might be spending restraint.
Incoming Democratic Majority:
David Brody of CBN News looks at the potential clout held by the moderate/conservative coalition of the 44 "Blue Dog" Democrats. LINK
Hoping to distinguish themselves from the previous Congress, the Democrats are going to be making a few superficial changes even before they even get to work on serious matters reports The Hill's Jim Snyder. LINK
"The Committee on International Relations, for example, will once again be called the Committee on Foreign Affairs," reports Snyder.
Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), the incoming chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, calls for the renewal of the President's fast-track trade negotiating authority as well as measures to help workers cope with globalization in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.
Incoming Republican Minority:
The Washington Examiner's Patrick Gavin looks at the scrutiny House Republicans came under yesterday from members of the press when they pushed for greater minority rights after many years in the House majority. LINK
The Washington Post's Dana Milbank on the "suddenly righteous Republicans." LINK
Politics of Iraq
: The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny reports that President Bush may not be without support from some Senate Democrats for his expected proposal to surge the American military presence in and around Baghdad if the plan is clearly temporary. LINK
Peter Spiegal of the Los Angeles Times highlights a group of influential neo-conservatives who are behind President Bush's likely call for a surge in troops in Iraq. LINK
The Washington Post's David Broder writes that President Bush must face the reality that if he doesn't bring Congress and both parties into the Iraq decision-making process, the policy "will inevitably fail." LINK
"Cindy Sheehan Routs the Democrats," blares the Washington Times' front page. LINK
Big Casino budget politics
: Bloomberg's Roger Runningen and Michael McKee look at President Bush's plans to send Congress a "constrained" budget of about $2.9 trillion that would "cut some domestic programs, including farm subsidies." LINK
In his front-page story on President Bush's call for a balanced budget, the Washington Post's Peter Baker Notes that President Bush "has never proposed a balanced budget since it went into deficit, never vetoed a spending bill when Republicans controlled Congress and offered little sustained objection to earmarks until the issue gained political traction last year." LINK
Edmund Andrews of the New York Times pens a news analysis on the President's plan to balance the federal budget over the next five years and to make his tax cuts permanent. LINK
". . . even as Democratic leaders continue to accuse Mr. Bush of having a reckless fiscal policy, they have refused to discuss dismantling his tax cuts or even to engage in a debate with him about the best way to stimulate economic growth," writes Andrews.
Bush Administration strategy/personality:
The New York Times' Mark Mazzetti writes up the news that Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte will leave his post to become Deputy Secretary of State and asks this question: "On paper, the director of national intelligence outranks the deputy secretary of state, raising questions about why the White House would seek -- and why Mr. Negroponte would agree to -- the shift." Mazzetti also adds that Negroponte will play a large role in "shaping policy in Iraq." LINK
ABC News' Martha Raddatz reports that Negroponte's likely successor will be former NSA Chief Mike McConnell. The Washington Post on same: LINK
The Wall Street Journal online adds to the McConnell speculation. LINK
Bush Administration agenda:
In a New York Daily News exclusive, James Gordon Meek reports that when signing a postal reform bill President Bush included a signing statement that "declared his right to open people's mail under emergency conditions." LINK
ABC News' David Kerley and Ann Compton report that White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore offered this rebuttal this morning.
"The President is not claiming any 'new authority' in his recent signing statement. . . Rather, the signing statement merely recognizes a legal proposition that is totally uncontroversial: that in certain circumstances -- such as with the proverbial 'ticking bomb' -- the Constitution does not require warrants for reasonable searches."
Politics of immigration:
"An agreement the Bush administration reached with Mexico on Social Security benefits would allow illegal aliens granted amnesty in the future to claim credit for the time they worked illegally," the Washington Times' Stephen Dinan reports in a must-read. LINK
2008: Republicans: McCain:
Appearing on morning network television, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) reacted to reports that President Bush will soon call for a temporary surge of roughly 20,000 troops in Baghdad. Sen. McCain said that he believes the U.S can still win the war with a substantial troop increase rather than a small surge. "To make it of short duration and small size would be the worst of all options to exercise in my opinion," said the Senator. Sen. McCain, who established a presidential exploratory committee back in November, said he is continuing to consider a run for the White House in 2008 and responded to a question about whether he would announce his intentions this month by saying, "I don't think so."
Later in the morning and after finishing his lengthy chat with Don Imus about his reading list, Sen. McCain threw an elbow back in Sen. Edwards direction in his reaction to Edwards' recent labeling of the troop surge in Iraq as the "McCain Doctrine."
"I don't know if it is a doctrine or not, but it is a principle. . . I'm committing to accomplishing the mission. Maybe some others did not understand that when they voted to support the war," said McCain.
Over to you, Sen. Edwards.
The AP's Sidoti looks at Sen. McCain's life as frontrunner with other presidential hopefuls (from both parties) eager to take their shots. LINK
Sen. McCain is close to securing a rental of about 5,600 square feet of space in Manchester's Waumbec Mill for a New Hampshire headquarters, the Union Leader's DiStaso reports. LINK
2008: Republicans: Romney:
Having now entered the 2008 presidential fray by creating a presidential exploratory committee, the race for campaign cash is on. "Though the first presidential primary is more than a year away, a major test of Romney's viability will be how much money he can raise," write the Boston Globe's Estes and Helman. LINK
The Washington Post's Dan Balz greets the entry of the "potentially formidable" Romney into the presidential race by Noting that his 1994 Senate race, when he defended Roe v. Wade and pledged to be a more effective advocate for gay rights than Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), "could affect his bid for the Republican nomination in 2008." LINK
The Boston Globe's Scott Helman looks at Romney's record as governor and specifically at his historic healthcare bill which could possibly serve as a national model. LINK
The Boston Herald's Casey Ross has more on Romney's "lone walk" from the State House to the White House campaign trail. LINK
2008: Republicans: Giuliani:
The New York Times' Patrick Healy stokes the Giuliani leak story, reporting that Erin Isaac, a spokesperson for Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL), confirmed that the bag in question was misplaced on a Crist plane but that "nothing fishy" happened. Healy Notes "Mr. Giuliani, as a possible Republican candidate for president, cannot afford to alienate the Republican who is set to lead Florida through the 2008 balloting." LINK
Sen. McCain told Don Imus this morning that he had nothing to do with the missing document incident. Sen. McCain went on to add that "Rudy Giuliani is an American hero, a fine man, and a friend of mine." Sen. McCain also said that if Giuliani seeks the GOP nomination, he will be a "formidable" candidate.
The New York Post continues its leak coverage with Crist's denial of any involvement. LINK
The Union Leader's John DiStaso reports that a handful of GOP activists, including Wayne Semprini, spent New Year's eve in New York with Giuliani. LINK
2008: Republicans: Thompson:
While campaigning in Iowa, former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R-WI) didn't sound all that supportive of the troop surge proposal likely to come from President Bush next week. Thompson, who served as Secretary of Health and Human Services for the Bush Administration said of the situation in Iraq that "America's patience is growing very thin," per the Des Moines Register's Tony Leys. LINK
"'We can't cut and run right now. We've got too much invested,' he said. 'But Bush has got one last chance to get it right and stabilize that government. If not, I think you're going to have all-out civil war.'"
Thompson said he doesn't favor proposals to increase U.S. troops in Iraq, "unless there's some assurances it will work."
Note, too, that Thompson plans to visit Iowa at least one day every week.
2008: Democrats: Clinton:
In your 2008 must-read of the day, the New York Times' Adam Nagourney and Pat Healy demystify the private conversations over meals and drinks Sen. Clinton has been conducting over the last several weeks as she continues to maneuver toward a likely run for the White House. LINK
Nagourney/Healy write that Clinton met with three New Hampshire allies in Washington recently that was "one of a series of nearly nonstop political consultations that Mrs. Clinton has engaged in," during which Clinton reportedly addressed her initial support for the Iraq war and how that vote will play out politically and her belief that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and former Sen. John Edwards were her top competitors for the nomination.
The Timesmen Note that, "she believed the threat of [Obama's] candidacy would diminish as voters learned how inexperienced he was in government and foreign affairs," according to participants.
You need to read it all, but here is one of our favorite lines: "Mrs. Clinton has gone to great lengths to try to keep these meetings private. She and her aides have strongly asked Democrats not to report what has taken place there, from what she says to what she eats, and where (she had the lamb at Ruth's Chris Steak House in Washington, the Dover sole at the Four Seasons in New York)."
2008: Democrats: Obama:
In a Washington Post op-ed, Sen. Obama writes that if Democrats "miss this opportunity to clean up our act and restore this country's faith in government, the American people might not give us another one." LINK
Bloomberg's Margaret Carlson writes that "even if the country's experience with Bush makes inexperience the cardinal fault next time around, Obama, a mere state legislator in 2002, was dead-on correct about the seminal issue of our time. He had no illusions about the brutal butcher Saddam Hussein but said he could be contained until, like 'all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.'" LINK
2008: Democrats: Edwards:
John Edwards started raising cash for his White House bid back home last night in Chapel Hill, NC at an event that was expected to bring in $100,000. The Raleigh News & Observer has the story. LINK
With the New Hampshire state Democratic and Republican parties set to elect new chairmen this month, the Union Leader's ed board calls for civility that elevates the political discourse. LINK
In South Carolina, the political tug of war has begun between Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) and the Republican-controlled legislature over Sanford's new budget proposal. LINK
The Van Hollen era at the DCCC is getting underway with some significant hires. Brian Wolff has been tapped as executive director and the talented Jennifer Crider is moving from the Speaker's office over to the DCCC to serve as communications director. You can read more about it on the Political Radar. LINK
Crider is expected to work for both Speaker Pelosi and the DCCC for the next month before moving over to the campaign committee full time in February.
And over at the NRSC, Federal Communications Commission Media Bureau Spokesperson, Rebecca Hanks Fisher, is set to become the committee's new communications director under Sen. Ensign (R-NV). Fisher is the former communications director of the Senate Commerce Committee when Sen. McCain was chairman.
Fisher is set to assumer her duties on Monday.
The New York Times' Jennifer Medina reports that John Orman, a professor of politics at Fairfield University who ran briefly against Sen. Lieberman (I-CT), has filed paperwork with state election officials to become the chairman of the Connecticut for Lieberman party. LINK
"If you can't beat him, Mr. Orman reasoned, join his party to argue with him. And this week, the secretary of state's office said that was just fine." In the rechristened "In the Loop" page, the Washington Post's Lois Romano Notes that George McGovern, the liberal 1972 Democratic presidential nominee, "dropped a little bombshell to Larry King the other night: He voted Republican in 1976, for Gerald Ford." LINK
Casting and counting:
The New York Times' Christopher Drew reports that a laboratory that has tested most of the nation's electronic voting systems has been "temporarily barred from approving new machines after federal officials found that it was not following its quality-control procedures and could not document that it was conducting all the required tests." LINK