111th Congress Takes Power

January 6, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
The House and the Senate are back in session for the New Year. It may be the first day of the 111th congress, but lawmakers are expected to hit the ground running as they prepare to tackle the country's worst economic crisis since the great depression.

"Our country and our economy needs an economic recovery package that will create jobs immediately and will grow the economy," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D).

Democrats hope to capitalize on expanded majorities, in both the Senate and House of Representatives, to push through the president-elect's seven $775-billion dollar stimulus package.

Barack Obama met with both Democrats and Republicans Monday to drum up support for the plan, which includes $300-billion dollars in tax cuts.

"I'm convinced, as a result of listening to the president-elect, that he is interested in what Republican ideas might be offered to the stimulus package," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel (R).

"I am confident that we can do this. And we -- we have to do this," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D).

But even as businesses gets underway, there will be some empty seats in the Senate. Democrat Al Franken has been declared the winner in the Minnesota recount, but is preparing for a legal challenge from incumbent Norm Coleman. And Roland Burris, who was appointed to Barack Obama's vacant Illinois senate seat, arrived in Washington despite vows from the Democratic leadership that he will not be seated because he was named by embattled Governor Rod Blagojevich.

"Illinois needs to have a full complement of representation and that's what I'm seeking to do," said Senator-Designate Roland Burris.

Among those who will take the oath of office today: Senator Joe Biden will be sworn in for the seventh time, even though he'll resign his seat shortly before taking the oath of office as Vice President on January 20th.

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