GOP Takes Over New Congress

Published: January 6, 2015

GOP Takes Over New Congress, Republicans assumed full control of Congress on Tuesday for the first time in eight years in a day of pomp, circumstance and raw politics beneath the Capitol Dome. “We will get to work right away,” pledged House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

As required by the Constitution, Congress convened at noon. On the Senate floor, newcomers mixed with veterans as, with Vice President Joe Biden presiding, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was automatically ascended to majority leader following the approval of rank-and-file Republicans last year.

Across the Capitol in the House, a similar scene unfolded as familiar faces and new ones crowded the aisles and lawmakers of both parties recited the Pledge of Allegiance. But in the House, there was an element of slight suspense as Speaker John Boehner of Ohio faced a tea party-backed effort to unseat him, though it looked certain to fall short.

Seeking unity despite the internal party dissension, the GOP moved swiftly toward a veto showdown with President Barack Obama over the long-stalled Keystone XL pipeline, a taste of things to come in divided government.

At the White House, Obama planned to meet with the new congressional leadership next week as both sides positioned themselves for two years of clashes and, perhaps, occasional cooperation that will help shape the outcomes of the 2016 presidential and congressional elections.

McConnell replaces Democrat Harry Reid of Nevada, who was a surprise no-show from the day’s proceedings after he injured himself exercising.

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