Re-elected U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (back) and returning Democrat Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi attend the opening session of the 113th U.S. Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., capital of the United States, Jan. 3, 2012. The new U.S. Congress convened on Thursday with new members swearing in. (Xinhua/Zhang Jun)
WASHINGTON, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- The new U.S. Congress convened on Thursday to swear in members and face those old challenges lingering over the country, including a gridlock at the Capitol Hill.
In last November elections, U.S. President Barack Obama won a second term while the partisan status quo at Capitol Hill remained slightly changed. The Democrats on the Senate secured a 55-45 edge in the new two-year Congress, and Republicans maintained their majority in the House with a smaller advantage by 233 to 200.
Lawmakers met in the House of Representatives on Thursday for the first session of the 113th Congress and began with a vote for the House leadership. Eighty-four new members - 35 Republicans and 49 Democrats - will join the lower chamber this year, including two vacancies to be filled.
As expected, Republican lawmaker John Boehner received 220 votes and thus secured his position as House speaker. Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, who has also retained her post as the minority leader in a vote by Democrats in late November, handed Boehner the Speaker's gavel.
Although winning the re-election vote with majority of ballots, Boehner, the Representative of Ohio faced more defectors within the Republican party. Some have voiced disapproval or been on fence for Boehner's speakership bid. That marked a sharp difference from two years ago, when Republicans unanimously voted to hand him the House Speaker's gavel.
"Jobs will come home. Confidence will come back," Boehner said when delivering a speech.
The Senate also convened its first session on the 113th Congress on Thursday, with incoming Senate freshmen and Senators re-elected in the 2012 election sworn in to office.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden hosted the ceremonial reenactments for individual senators. Twelve newly-elected members join the upper chamber this year, including three Republicans, eight Democrats and one independent. The Senate for the 113th Congress is made up of 45 Republicans, 53 Democrats and two independents.
"Unfortunately, our political differences prevented us from accomplishing as much as we all hoped during the 112th Congress," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in his speech.
Reid also urged House Republican leadership to "allow bipartisan bills passed by the Senate to come to a vote before the full House of Representatives."
"Too many good pieces of legislation have died over the last two years because House Republican leaders insist on passing legislation with a majority of the Majority, that is, only Republicans. Democrats were ignored."
The opening session of the new Congress followed weeks of political bickering around the "fiscal cliff" negotiations, which eventually ended in an exhausting New Year Eve passage and left many issues to be resolved.
In the next two years, the new Congress will also continue to face several severe challenges, including economy recovery, debt ceiling, tax reform, immigration reform as well as gun-control.