News / USA

New US Congress Sworn In

Members of the 113th U.S. Congress, many accompanied by family members, take the oath of office in the House of Representatives chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013.
Members of the 113th U.S. Congress, many accompanied by family members, take the oath of office in the House of Representatives chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013.
VOA News
A new U.S. Congress was sworn into office Thursday, but it will quickly face an old dispute about the country's burgeoning debt and in the coming weeks controversial new gun control and immigration proposals.

The Congress leaving office squabbled this week in its final days over contentious tax and spending legislation before finally agreeing to increase taxes on the wealthiest American families. The new Congress, the country's 113th, faces a renewed debate over increasing the country's $16.4 trillion borrowing cap, a debt ceiling the government reached earlier this week.

Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (L) introduces Speaker of the House John Boehner to speak after Boehner's re-election during the first day of the 113th US Congress in the Capitol in Washington, January 3, 2013.Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (L) introduces Speaker of the House John Boehner to speak after Boehner's re-election during the first day of the 113th US Congress in the Capitol in Washington, January 3, 2013.
x
Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (L) introduces Speaker of the House John Boehner to speak after Boehner's re-election during the first day of the 113th US Congress in the Capitol in Washington, January 3, 2013.
Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (L) introduces Speaker of the House John Boehner to speak after Boehner's re-election during the first day of the 113th US Congress in the Capitol in Washington, January 3, 2013.
As part of the opening day of ceremonies, the majority Republicans in the House of Representatives again chose Ohio congressman John Boehner as Speaker, the top position in the chamber. By U.S. law, he also is second in the line of succession for the presidency, behind Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat.
 
In a time-honored ceremony, Biden swore in new and re-elected senators, asking them whether they swore allegiance to the U.S. Constitution:

"Do you solemnly swear that you will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic, that you will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, that you take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which you are about to enter, so help you God?"

Congressional Majority, SenateCongressional Majority, Senate
x
Congressional Majority, Senate
Congressional Majority, Senate
The U.S. government said it can keep paying its bills for another two months, but by then will need to have the borrowing limit increased - or face an unprecedented circumstance, running out of money and defaulting on some of its financial obligations. President Barack Obama, a Democrat, said he will not negotiate with Congress over raising the debt ceiling, but Republican lawmakers said they plan to use the borrowing debate to try to win sharp concessions from Obama to cut government spending.  

Related - Analysts: More Battles to Come Over Spending in Washington

Lawmakers and the White House also will have to decide which spending cuts to impose, decisions they postponed for two months while compromising on this week's tax package.

The senior economist at one of the country's largest banks, James Glassman of JPMorgan Chase, said the debt ceiling will have to be increased, perhaps by $1 trillion or so, to give the government enough borrowing room for the coming year. He predicted the debate will be rancorous and focused on the government's need to rein in spending for government medical programs for older Americans and the impoverished so that it can eventually trim its debt.

Glassman said the debate will be messy and noisy. "Increasingly over time, we're going to have to figure how to get to the real problem. The elephant in the room really is health care, federal health care spending. That's what's expected to grow steadily over the years," he added.

113 Congress - House113 Congress - House
x
113 Congress - House
113 Congress - House
Obama, set to be sworn in for a second term on January 20, said he plans to send Congress new gun control legislation later this month in the wake of last month's schoolhouse shooting rampage that left 20 children and six adults dead. In addition, he said he hopes to enact sweeping immigration reforms this year.

As a result of the November elections, Obama will have a slightly bigger Democratic Party contingent in Congress to work with. Democrats have a 55-45 edge in the Senate, a gain of two seats. Republicans continue to control the 435-member House of Representatives, but with a reduced majority. Republicans hold 234 House seats, down from 242, while the Democrats hold 201 seats.

The new Congress includes 12 new senators and 84 new House members. While the demographic makeup of the overall Congress will remain whiter, older and more male than the country as a whole, the new lawmakers are the most diverse in history, particularly the House Democratic delegation.

Among the new lawmakers are four African-Americans, 10 Latinos, five Asian-Americans and 24 women. There are also two Hindus, a Buddhist and the first openly bisexual congresswoman.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs