Dems keep Senate leaders, split in House

Updated: 2006-11-15 08:41

Shot back Jennifer Crider, Pelosi's spokeswoman: "House Democrats will lead the most honest and open Congress in history. Leader Pelosi has pledged to change the way business in Washington is done, and that's what she'll do."

"I thought we were above this type of swift-boating attack," Murtha said in a statement issued by his office, referring to unsubstantiated allegations about John Kerry's Vietnam War heroism from a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth during the 2004 presidential race. "This is not how we restore integrity and civility to the United States Congress."

Democrats have settled on South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn to succeed Hoyer as the party's whip, or chief vote-counter, making him the highest-ranking black in the new Congress.

Reid told The Associated Press that a top priority for the remainder of the lame-duck session will be confirming Robert Gates as defense secretary, succeeding Donald H. Rumsfeld. "The sooner we can move it forward the sooner we can get rid of Rumsfeld," he said.

Rounding out the Democratic leadership roster in the Senate, Charles Schumer of New York will continue as the chairman of the party's campaign fundraising committee. Schumer also will add "vice chairman" to his title, making him No. 3 in the leadership and a chief strategist.

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington will serve as conference secretary; Debbie Stabenow of Michigan will chair the steering committee, and Byron Dorgan of South Dakota will serve as chairman of the research-focused policy committee.

Alexander has been campaigning 18 months for the Senate GOP whip's job. He claimed commitments of support from more than a majority of the GOP caucus. "We need some new faces and some fresh themes," Alexander told reporters.

Lott is supported in his comeback bid by Arizona Sen. John McCain.

After Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, the current GOP whip, was defeated last week for re-election, Lott cast himself as the more-experienced candidate to hold the GOP's No. 2 post behind Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. McConnell is unopposed for minority leader, replacing retiring Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee.

Alexander is no newcomer to the art of counting votes among finicky colleagues - any one of whom can use Senate procedure to hold up business or kill legislation. A former governor and Cabinet secretary, he is casting himself as a morale-booster for a demoralized Republican caucus.

"He's a quieter, lower-key person," than Lott, said Tom Ingram, Alexander's chief of staff. "He's plenty tough enough to go toe-to-toe with the opposition every day. But (he'll) do it in a way that's constructive, not destructive."

House Republicans are scheduled to choose their new leaders Friday. There is a three-way race among John Boehner of Ohio, Mike Pence of Indiana and Joe Barton of Texas for minority leader, and a conservative challenge by Arizona Rep. John Shadegg for the GOP whip's post now help by Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri.

Senate Democrats also filled some administrative posts for when the new Congress convenes. The new sergeant-at-arms will be Terrance Gainer, who was ousted earlier this year as chief of the US Capitol Police after questions were raised about him hiring is son-in-law as a police officer.


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