Republicans are hoping their recent election wins, giving them control of the U.S. Congress, will make it easier to gain passage of legislation important to the White House. But the leader of Senate Democrats says his party will put up a challenge to the president when it feels the need.
The U.S. Congress will convene this week for what's known as a "lame duck" session, when the old Congress meets briefly before the newly elected members of Congress are sworn in after the new year.
In this case, Democrats will preside in the Senate until they hand over control to the Republican party, which won more seats in recent elections.
Republican Senator Trent Lott is poised to take over as head of the new majority party. Appearing on the NBC television program Meet the Press, Senator Lott said he hopes Democrats will put aside partisan politics during the interim legislative period.
"Homeland security department needs to be done. The president is not going to accept anything less than getting it done," he said.
The current majority leader, Democratic Senator Tom Daschle, also appearing on Meet the Press, said Democrats will remain a check on legislation supported by the White House.
"We will support the president when he's right. We're going to oppose him when he's wrong. We're going to look at it and make our assessment on a case by case basis," he said.
Senator Daschle conceded President Bush is popular with the American people and that's what helped win the majority of congressional elections for Republican candidates.