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Senate Democrats Choose New Leadership for Next Session


Democrats in the U.S. Senate have chosen their leaders for the next session of Congress, just one week after winning control of the Senate from Republicans in mid-term elections.

Democratic senators elected Harry Reid, a moderate from Nevada, to be U.S. Senate Majority leader for the 110th Congress that will convene in January. Senator Reid said Democrats are going to see how they can work with President Bush to change the course in Iraq.

The Democratic senators' caucus chose Dick Durbin of Illinois to be the vote-counting Democratic whip. Senator Charles Schumer of New York will continue as the chairman of his party's senatorial campaign committee and also will be vice chairman of the caucus. The caucus chose Patty Murray of Washington state to be its new secretary.

House Democrats face a more contentious leadership vote Thursday. Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California is publicly supporting Representative John Murtha of Pennsylvania to be the new majority leader over the current second-ranking Democrat, Steny Hoyer of Maryland.

Hoyer has said he believes he has enough votes to win. Murtha is a decorated Vietnam War veteran who made headlines a year ago by calling for U.S. troops to be withdrawn from Iraq. Democrats also won control of the House of Representatives in last weeks' elections, for the first time in 12 years.

The outgoing Congress returned to work in Washington Monday. Among the issues on the agenda are finishing the budget, trade with Vietnam, and the nomination of a new defense secretary to replace Donald Rumsfeld.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.
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