Thursday in politics: New Congress convenes to face old problems, and more

Phil Pruitt

It’s swearing-in day on Capitol Hill. The 113th Congress will convene at the constitutionally required time of noon.

Democrats maintain control of the Senate with a 55-45 edge in the new two-year Congress, which means Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., will remain in charge. Republicans continue their majority in the House 235-199. Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, despite a rocky stretch the past few weeks, seems likely to win another term as speaker.

There are 12 new senators — eight Democrats, three Republicans and one independent – and 82  freshmen in the House — 47 Democrats and 35 Republicans.

What’s ahead? Fights over what to do about government spending. Fights over what to do about the nation’s borrowing authority. Fights over the role of government in general. Sound familiar?

One immediate bit of business will be a vote Friday in the House on $9 billion in Superstorm Sandy aid and another vote on Jan. 15 on another $51 billion in aid. House Republican leaders had decided Tuesday night to delay the vote, but there was a backlash from New York and New Jersey Republicans, and Boehner responded by scheduling the Friday vote.

And then there is this: Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who suffered a stroke last January and has been absent for the past year, plans a dramatic return to the Capitol by walking up the 45 steps to the Senate's doors.

And this: Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has scheduled what is being billed as an “important announcement” Thursday related to the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

And this, for a bit of political history: Thursday marks the 5th anniversary of Obama winning the Iowa caucus.

Sources: Yahoo! News’ The Ticket, Yahoo! News reporter Liz Goodwin, Associated Press, Reuters.