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What to Expect from the Democratic Agenda

The Hill's new leaders, from left: House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA),  Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (D-NY) celebrate on Capitol Hill, Nov. 7, 2006 in Washington, D.C.
Chip Somodevilla
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Getty Images
The Hill's new leaders, from left: House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (D-NY) celebrate on Capitol Hill, Nov. 7, 2006 in Washington, D.C.

"To the victors go the spoils," and so Democratic lawmakers are getting ready to claim the top leadership roles and committee chairmanships in both the House and Senate.

But there's another saying as well: "Be careful what you wish for, you may well get it." And so Democrats, having gotten what they wished for, may now find running the two chambers even more daunting than the last time they held them both at once (1993-94). That could be especially true given the strong-minded Republican president working down the street.

At the same time, the Democrats have come in from the political wilderness for a reason. The party's capture of control of the House and Senate is widely being interpreted as a repudiation of President Bush's policies and of Republican rule. And the president is showing some signs he's getting the message. On the day after the election, he announced the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld, his controversial secretary of defense, and later in the week he met with the new Democratic leaders of the House and Senate.

So now Democratic lawmakers find themselves in the unaccustomed position of setting the agenda -- at least for one branch of the federal government. And while party leaders have promised to govern in a spirit of bipartisanship, changes can be expected in congressional initiatives across a broad spectrum of issues -- from U.S. policy in Iraq to health care, immigration, the federal minimum wage and the environment.

NPR reporters offer their analysis on what to expect from the new Democratic majority:

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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