Jan 5 (Reuters) - The new 112th U.S. Congress convenes at noon EST (1700 GMT) on Wednesday with Republicans packing new clout over President Barack Obama’s Democrats.
Here’s a look at how opening day is expected to unfold in the House of Representatives and the Senate, both of which will swear in newly elected members and consider new rules for handling legislation in their respective chambers:
* Republicans will be in charge of the House, having ousted Democrats from the majority in Nov. 2 congressional elections. The new Republican majority will be 242-193.
* One of the first orders of House business will be the virtually certain election of Republican John Boehner as the chamber’s new speaker, replacing Democrat Nancy Pelosi. She will become the chamber’s new minority leader.
* Once Boehner is selected by the full House, Pelosi is to hand Boehner the speaker’s gavel as the chamber’s presiding officer.
* Boehner will then deliver his first speech as speaker and swear in the chamber’s 435 newly elected members.
* A partisan House debate appears certain over proposed Republican rules changes. One would require any new U.S. spending to be offset by spending cuts.
But it would not require tax cuts to be offset by reductions in spending. Republicans argue tax cuts would stimulate the economy and create jobs. Democrats warn tax cuts would also increase the deficit unless coupled with reductions in spending. The proposed changes are expected to be approved by the House on a largely party-line vote.
* One of the first orders of business in the Senate will be the swearing in of 35 newly elected lawmakers in the 100-member chamber. Vice President Joe Biden, as the Senate’s president, will preside. Democrats will still retain control of the chamber, but their majority will shrink to 53-47 from the 58-42 majority they held when the last Congress ended in December.
* Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, along with a number of other lawmakers, are expected to deliver opening-day speeches.
* Senate Democrats are expected to propose rules changes to curb procedural roadblocks known as filibusters. But it is unclear what revisions all Democrats will rally around.
Regardless, no vote on that is anticipated on Wednesday. The Senate is expected to recess late in the day and return on Jan. 24 to consider this and other matters, including committee assignments and top legislative priorities for each party.
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