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Republicans Officially Take Full Control of US Congress

  • VOA News

The new U.S. Congress convenes Tuesday with Republicans controlling both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Conservatives are determined to reverse some of President Barack Obama's policies.

The opposition party is beginning the new two-year legislative session with its strongest numbers in several years after last November's sweeping midterm election victories. Republicans hold an overwhelming 246 seats in the 435-seat House -- the party's biggest majority in 70 years -- and a comfortable 55 seats in the 100-seat Senate.

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, speaking on CNN television Sunday, said the Senate's first major task will be approving the Keystone oil pipeline. Supporters say it will create jobs and lead to energy independence for the U.S. But Democratic opponents call it an environmental disaster waiting to happen, and that all but a few of those jobs would be temporary.

Republicans in both chambers also will seek to overturn President Obama's signature health care program and block his executive order on immigration.

Vetoes likely

Obama has said he will veto Republican bills he does not like. Even with majorities in both bodies, Republicans may not have enough votes to overturn vetoes.

The president has said he looks forward to working with the new Congress and believes there is common ground on many issues, including tax reform and international trade deals.

House Speaker John Boehner is expected to be easily re-elected to his third term in the powerful post on Tuesday, but is facing a small revolt by members of his party's ultraconservative Tea Party faction. House Republicans are also dealing with revelations that Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise, the third-ranking member of the party's leadership team, spoke before a white supremacist group in 2002, when he was a state lawmaker.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Monday that the decision by Boehner and other Republicans to support Scalise despite the controversy "says a lot" about the party's values.

Material for this report came from AP and Reuters.