It’s a sad day in Florida as we say goodbye to outgoing U.S. Rep. Allen West. New members will be sworn in to the 113th Congress at noon Thursday.
The new Congress will pick up right where the last left off, but with a small shift in the partisan makeup.
According to CNN:
Republicans will fill 234 seats in the new House, down from 242. Democrats will take 201, up from 193.
In the Senate, voters handed two former GOP seats to Democrats for a new balance of 55-45. The 55 Democratic seats include two independents who caucus with the party.
This political shift may affect issues quickly approaching the new members. The fiscal-cliff deal signed by the president this week did not address automatic spending cuts, which were delayed until the end of February.
Also on the horizon is the debt-ceiling crisis, and the president already warned, according to CNN:
While I will negotiate over many things, I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills that they’ve already racked up through the laws that they’ve passed.
However, since out-of-control borrowing and spending was not addressed during the fiscal-cliff negotiations, Americans should prepare for more partisan bickering from both sides.
Of more immediate concern is an upcoming vote on $9 billion in immediate assistance for victims of Hurricane Sandy, due Friday, with the balance of the $60 billion relief package set for a Jan. 15 vote.
Obama has also vowed to address immigration and gun control in his second term. It will be interesting to see how a still-divided Congress will gear up for these fights.