The new Senate leadership was elected on Tuesday, consisting of the same Democrats and Republicans who were in charge before the midterms.
After their parties’ meetings, the leaders emerged to give their interpretation of how the American people’s message from the elections should be enacted in the new 112th Congress.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who held on to his Nevada seat by the skin of his teeth, has kept his powerful job.
Reid talked to reporters next to his Capitol office after he was reelected by the Democratic Caucus. After his re-election as Leader, Reid and the other Democratic leaders, Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) and Democratic Conference Secretary Patty Murray (Was.), spoke to reporters.
Looking tired and downtrodden for a man who is the highest ranking Democrat on Capitol Hill, Reid said that “it’s not the Democratic way or the highway. It’s not the Republican way or the highway. But the American people want us to do something about the staggering economy. The American people want us to work together.”
After the Democrats spoke, the hall cleared for exactly one minute. Then, an energetic looking Republican leadership spoke to the media camped outside the Senate chamber. “The Senators you see before you have just been reelected by our conference,” said the past and present Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
McConnell was asked about the announcement that Obama-ally, Missouri Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill was pushing for a Senate floor vote on a moratorium on earmarks. McConnell did not respond to the question directly, instead saying that Republican Senator “Coburn indicated he’s already going to do that, and I think that’s a good idea.”
Asked about his plans to deal with the unpopular ObamaCare, McConnell said, “We will be seeing if we can get the votes to repeal and replace the health care bill. I think that’s the first step. You will be hear from us on that subject early next year and then quite often over the next two years.”
The Republican Senators, which include six newly-elected members, re-elected Mitch McConnell for the third time in a row as the Minority Leader. The new Florida Senator and Tea-Party favorite Marco Rubio gave one of the nominating speeches for McConnell. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) gave a second nominating speech.
McConnell stood at the podium with the rest of his re-elected Republican leadership team: Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairman John Thune (S.D.), Senate Republican Conference Vice Chairman John Barrasso (Wyo.), and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas).
“I think we have a great opportunity here to demonstrate that we are responding to what the American people clearly would like for us to do—cut the spending, cut the debt, and get private-sector job-creating going again,” McConnell said.
Striking a bipartisan tone, McConnell said that “It is our hope that we will be able to work with the administration on all of those issues. I and others have had numerous conversations with the President over the last week or so. We look forward to exploring the ways in which we can go forward together for the American people. “
Minority Whip Kyl said that “The tone of the meeting that we just had was one of a team that together has heard what the American people have to say and want in every way we can to translate that into legislative achievements here in the United States Senate.”
“I think what the American people were saying—by giving us six new Senators and a big majority in the House of Representatives—is they want us to reign in out-of-control government. I think the primary message coming out of this election is that the American people didn’t like what they were seeing—this overreaching agenda here in Washington, D.C.”
“So we are in a better position now—and we hope the Democrats will join us—as we embark upon an agenda that tries to reign in out-of-control government, get spending and debt under control, and get the American people back to work by putting policies in place that will enable economic growth and job creation rather than killing jobs,” said Thune.
The familiar faces of the Democratic and Republican leadership departed the press conference to work on the agenda for the continuing lame duck 111th Congress.