WASHINGTON — Congress is ushering in the new and the old — dozens of freshmen determined to change Washington and the harsh reality of another stretch of bitterly divided government.
The 113th Congress convenes today at noon as members of the House and Senate are sworn in and the speaker of the Republican-controlled House is chosen.
The traditions come against the backdrop of a mean season that closed out an angry election year.
A deal to avert the “fiscal cliff” of big tax increases and spending cuts split the parties in New Year’s Day votes, and the House’s failure to vote on a Superstorm Sandy aid package before adjournment prompted GOP recriminations against the leadership.
“There’s a lot of hangover obviously from the last few weeks of this session into the new one, which always makes a fresh start a lot harder,” Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said.
For all the change of the next Congress, the new bosses are the same as the old bosses.
President Barack Obama secured a second term, and Democrats tightened their grip on the Senate for a 55-45 edge, ensuring that Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., will remain in charge.
Republicans maintained their majority in the House but will have a smaller advantage, 235-199. Former Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s Illinois seat is the one vacancy.
Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, seems poised to win another term as speaker.