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New Senate Leaders Prepare for Next Term

The newly elected members of the House had their freshman photograph taken Tuesday on Capitol Hill, while Senate Democrats elected their new leaders. Expert analyze the upcoming changes in the House and Senate.

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  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Just after 8 this morning, 41 newly elected House members assembled on the Capitol steps for their freshman photograph. It's a ritual for congressional rookies, 28 of whom this year are Democrats, 13 Republican.

    Meanwhile, over on the Senate side, Democrats chose those who will lead their majority starting in January. As expected, they elected current Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada as their majority leader, while Illinois' Dick Durbin, the current minority whip, will keep that same vote-counting role in the majority.

    SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), Illinois: We know that a 51-vote majority is as thin as they come and that, if we're going to be successful, we need to work together on a bipartisan basis.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    As a result of their new majority status, Democrats also chose the chairmen of the various Senate committees. Michigan's Carl Levin will head the Armed Services Committee. Joe Biden of Delaware will chair the Foreign Relations Committee. West Virginian Jay Rockefeller will head the Intelligence Committee. And Vermont's Patrick Leahy will take over at the Judiciary Committee.

    Tax and budget-related issues will be handled by Montana's Max Baucus and North Dakota's Kent Conrad, while New Mexico's Jeff Bingaman and California's Barbara Boxer will oversee energy and environmental matters.

    Tomorrow, Senate Republicans are expected to choose Kentucky's Mitch McConnell as minority leader, while the race for whip is between Tennessee's Lamar Alexander and Mississippi's Trent Lott, who's held both the whip and majority leader posts during his 18-year career.

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