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Democrats Hold Thin Majority in Senate as Congress Starts

The Democrats held a razor-thin majority of 50-49 Thursday as the 110th Senate convened, while Sen. Tim Johnson is still in critical but stable condition after heart surgery in December. The NewsHour reports on the Senate's opening day and the change of power.

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    The new Senate began its day with an unusual closed-door gathering of the entire membership in the Old Senate Chamber. The meeting was conceived by the new majority and minority leaders, Democrat Harry Reid of Nevada and Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, in an effort to establish a bipartisan ethic at the outset of the new session. And shortly thereafter, the two stood together and outlined their visions for the legislative session.

    SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), Senate Majority Leader: Senator McConnell and I believe this is a new day in Washington, that our efforts are going to be to work in a bipartisan basis, in an open fashion, to solve the problems of the American people.

    SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader: This opportunity we had in the Old Senate Chamber was a chance for many of our members to express some of their quiet frustrations, that we get past the level of partisanship that we've witnessed in recent years.

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