WASHINGTON - US Democrats voted Tuesday to keep the leaders who guided their
takeover of the Senate last week but were sharply divided over whether to give
Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi the majority leader she wants in the House.
Former Republican Majority Leader Trent Lott, meanwhile, opened a bid to
return to the Senate's Republican leadership after being ousted in 2002 for
remarks interpreted as endorsing segregationist policies of the 1940s.
Incoming US Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) speaks
to the press on Capitol Hill following his election to the post November
14, 2006. Reid, a moderate Nevada Democrat, was elected by colleagues on
Tuesday as US Senate majority leader for the 110th Congress that will
convene in January. Senator Charles Schumer (2nd L)(D-NY) becomes the Vice
Chair of the Conference. [Reuters]
"Yes, I am," the Mississippian said Tuesday when asked if he was challenging
Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander to become minority whip in the newly elected
Democratic-majority Congress next year.
Senate Democrats voted Tuesday to make Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada majority
leader and Dick Durbin of Illinois No. 2 in the party hierarchy. Both have held
the same positions but with "minority" instead of majority in their titles since
the 2004 election.
In the House, a bitter battle was under way after Pelosi said she would
prefer Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania to be majority leader over her current
lieutenant, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland. Critics accused Pelosi of backpedaling
on a pledge to scrub the House of corruption.
Both Murtha and Hoyer claim to have commitments from a majority of Democrats,
but the balloting Thursday will be secret and commitments often change.
Murtha, a decorated Vietnam veteran who favors an immediate drawdown of US
troops in Iraq, has fought charges for years of using his senior status on the
defense appropriations subcommittee to award favors to campaign contributions.
He voted against a Democratic package of ethics reforms earlier this year and
was touched by but never charged in the Abscam bribery scandal a quarter-century
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a Democratic-leaning
watchdog group, accused Pelosi of compromising her ethical standards by