Sen. Harry Reid serves as assistant majority leader until Bush is sworn in
Call it his 15 days of fame.
U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., will serve as the assistant majority leader until the Bush administration and 107th Congress take over Jan. 20.
With an even 50-50 split for the first time, the Senate returned to session Wednesday with Vice President Al Gore casting a deciding vote to give Democrats temporary control of the legislative body. Republican President-elect George W. Bush is sworn into office in 15 days.
Until then, Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and Reid pledged to “lead by example,” without pursuing a rash upheaval of government while in power.
“We’re not going to do anything to rock the boat,” Reid said Thursday, while coming out of session. “I hope that by treating our colleagues from the other side of the aisle with fairness and respect, they will show us the same courtesy once a power-sharing arrangement can be worked out in the Senate.”
Reid and his colleague Daschle want to use the even split to create an atmosphere of bipartisanship on the Washington beltway. In the next two weeks, the Senate will conduct the nomination hearings on the Bush cabinet.
“Everything is different in this Congress,” Reid said. “I think what we have is a recipe to get something done. Some people think it’s a recipe for a train wreck, but I don’t.”
The opportunity to run away on a power train is certainly there, if Reid elected to do so.
For the next two weeks, he will serve as the chairman to the Senate Ethics Committee, Committee on the Environment and Public Works and the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development Appropriations.
“Not a bad promotion, even if it is only for 17 days,” Reid said.
Afterward, he’ll return to his post on the ethics, environment and public works committees as the top Democrat and on the appropriations committee as a board member.
The first day as majority leader was an exciting one Wednesday for the Democratic senator, given Gore’s goodbye.
“It was sad,” he said of his colleague of 19 years.
But it was the number of women in the Senate who caused the most stir, Reid insisted. Jean Carnahan of Missouri filled the seat for her husband, who was killed in a plane crash a few weeks before the election. And it was also the first time a first lady, New York Senator-elect Hillary Rodham Clinton, took an oath in Congress.
As for Reid’s new-found celebrity, there are some aspects he could do without. On his way to a CNN interview, he collided with a metal staircase beam, requiring 18 stitches in his forehead, he said. He canceled that interview but later showed up on PBS’ News Hour with a big bandage on his forehead.
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