New Congress Kicks Off Today, But Senate Not Set to Stay Around for Long

By Cullen Dirner

Jan 5, 2011 9:54am

ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports: Buckle your seatbelts – today at noon the 112th Congress will kick off on Capitol Hill. On the House side of the Hill, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, will hand over the gavel to incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-OH, as the GOP takes control of the lower chamber. Over on the Senate side, the changes are far less drastic. Democrats retain their majority, although it will shrink from 58 senators to 53, including two independents Sen. Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders. At noon Vice President Biden will swear in the new senators. After the swearing-in, the Senate is expected to pass a resolution in honor of Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-MD, who today becomes the longest-serving woman senator in US history. But amidst all the ceremonial activities, don’t expect any legislative action. In fact, aides say, Senate Democrats are likely to keep the first legislative day open, meaning they would effectively recess until Monday January 24. The closest we expect to come to any legislative business will likely be Democratic resolutions to try to make it harder to filibuster legislation. The push is being led by Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM, and Sen. Tom Harkin, D-IA. Action on the proposals would likely come late this month. The same goes for committee news – don’t expect any announcements on that front until after the January recess. Tomorrow both parties will hold their separate caucus meetings, with Republicans heading to the Library of Congress for what they call their annual issues conference. After that, the Senate is expected to bolt for a few weeks before returning for what is shaping up to be a contentious and entertaining Congress.

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