US Congress sworn in for new session amid controversy

January 7th, 2009 - 2:49 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Jan 7 (DPA) The new US Congress was sworn in Tuesday with stronger Democratic majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate that are expected to help president-elect Barack Obama push through his legislative agenda.But the first day of the 111th Congress was overshadowed by controversy, as the Senate refused to seat Roland Burris, the candidate selected by embattled Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich to fill Obama’s vacated Senate seat.

The lower 435-strong House of Representatives will be led by a stronger Democratic majority with 257 members to Republicans’ 178, while the 100-seat Senate will likely be composed of 59 Democrats to 41 Republicans.

The first task facing Congress will be a massive economic stimulus package being offered by Obama, who met Monday with leaders in both houses to discuss the proposal.

Not all members of the Senate were sworn in Tuesday amid the controversy over Burris, who was denied entry to the chamber earlier in the day.

Also absent was Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat who was certified Monday as the winner of a contentious race with incumbent Republican Norm Coleman after a weeks-long recount. Coleman has indicated he will challenge the decision in court, and no certificate of election will be issued until the case is resolved.

The secretary of the Senate rejected Burris’ credentials because they had not been properly certified by Illinois officials, and would not allow him to take the oath of office.

Senate leaders had vowed to block Blagojevich’s appointment of Burris, 71, because of the ongoing investigation of the governor, who was arrested Dec 9 on corruption charges.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Politics |