Michigan Democrat Plays Key Role in Historic Congressional Shift

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Rep. Nancy Pelosi was sworn in as House speaker Thursday afternoon by Rep. John Dingell, the longest serving member of the House.

Dingell, a Michigan Democrat, administered the same oath to former Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., 12 years ago when Republicans seized the House after 40 years of Democratic control -- and he's set to get back his gavel as the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Jubilant Democrats elected Pelosi as the first woman speaker of the House, the crowning celebration of newfound power the party won in the November's electoral sweep.

Both Democrats and Republicans pledged cooperation despite years of bitter partisanship and gridlock, to try to get the 110th Congress off on a productive note.

House Democrats also were ready to impose a ban on gifts from lobbyists and a clampdown on travel funded by private interests -- measures crafted in response to the ethics scandals that weakened Republicans in last fall's elections.

"The Democrats are back," Pelosi said. She will lead a fractious House divided 233-202, with Democrats claiming control for the first time since 1994.

"The election of 2006 was a call to change, not merely to change the control of Congress, but for a new direction for our country," Pelosi said.

Pelosi on Thursday also attended a ceremonial swearing-in of the Congressional Black Caucus, where the incoming leader of the 42-member group, Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-Mich., made clear that they intended to have a voice in the new Congress.

"She must deliver because black people delivered that we might have this majority," Kilpatrick said of Pelosi.

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