Democrats take control of U.S. Congress

For the first time in 12 years Democrats will be taking control of both houses of the U.S. Congress later on Thursday. They will also be electing a woman as the nation’s first female speaker of the House of Representatives.

For the first time in 12 years Democrats will be taking control of both houses of the U.S. Congress later on Thursday. They will also be electing a woman as the nation’s first female speaker of the House of Representatives. 

The Democrats won the majority of seats in both the House of Representatives and Senate in last November's mid-term elections with their “A new direction for America” campaign platform. 

This shift in power from what critics labelled the “do nothing” Republican Congress, has largely been attributed to public discontent with U.S policy in Iraq. This is what the Democrats will capitalise on by putting pressure on President Bush to bring home U.S. troops. 

Meanwhile Mr Bush, who has just 2 years left in office to implement his own agenda, is due to announce his new strategy on Iraq within the next week. 

Following a meeting with his cabinet on Wednesday, Mr Bush was optimistic about this change to Capitol Hill , while emphasising the need to work together – something both sides have pledged to do. 

“I welcome their arrival in town. I’m looking forward to working with them and so are members of my cabinet. We’ve all been entrusted with public office at a momentous time in our nation’s history and together we have important things to do. It’s time to set aside politics and focus on the future,” President Bush said. 

Nancy Pelosi, who will be the first woman speaker in the 218-year history of the House of Representatives, has said the new Congress will push through a number of reforms in its first 100 hours.

These are set to include raising the minimum wage, providing federal funding for stem cell research and a number of other ethical issues. 

President Bush now faces a divided government for the first time since he took office in 2001, and Republicans have already complained they are being left out of the legislative process, claiming Ms Pelosi is violating earlier promises.