Reid opens post-election session in U.S. Senate

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Harry Reid opened the post-election session of the U.S. Senate Monday afternoon, noting Democrats are still in charge but have heard a message that voters want senators "getting things done."

Following elections that will seat 16 new senators, "some desks will switch aisles but the majority will not change," said Reid, the majority leader from Nevada.

"Voters did not elect only Republicans," Reid said. "They did not elect only Democrats. They did not want either party to govern stubbornly, demanding their way or the highway."

The GOP gained a net six seats for the Congress that will begin in January, meaning more desks will move to the left of the presiding officer where Republicans sit.

While two new Democrats -- Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Chris Coons of Delaware -- were being sworn in on Monday, to be followed this month by Republican Mark Kirk of Illinois, most of the newcomers will take office in January. These three are finishing unexpired terms.

"The 111th Congress is not over yet, and the lame-duck session starts today," Reid said. "We will see what we can get done before the start of the 112th Congress in January."

"When the heat of the campaign season cools, our constituents are more interested in us getting things done and rather we work with each other than talk past each other," Reid said. "Despite the changes our charge remains the same. Our number one priority remains getting people back to work."

Congress opened the lame-duck session with a long wish list of bills it could not finish during the year.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Monday that Democrats will focus on completing this year's spending bills and extending expiring tax rates.

Hoyer said the shape of those issues will depend largely on what Reid thinks is possible to pass in the Senate.

Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at or 202-783-1760.