Congress Starts Fighting before GOP Takes Power

If there were any hopes for a new spirit of bipartisanship in the 112th Congress due to convene Jan. 5, 2011, the fighting has begun even before the gavel comes down.
WASHINGTON - Several busloads of incoming House Speaker John Boehner's family and friends left Cincinnati before dawn Tuesday morning, bound for Washington, D.C, where outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi will formally return on Wednesday the gavel Boehner handed to her in 2007.

"I don't really look back," Pelosi told reporters Tuesday. "I look forward."

Pelosi Unbowed: "We Have No Regrets"

On Wednesday, the new 112th Congress will be sworn-in, CBS News Correspondent Nancy Cordes reports. The Republicans will take control of the House with a 49-seat majority. There will be 96 new members, including 87 Republicans. The nine new Democrats will be the smallest freshman class since 1915.

In the Senate, the Democrats will still be in control but with a smaller majority, just six seats. The newcomers include 13 Republicans and three Democrats.

If there were any hopes for a new spirit of bipartisanship, the fighting has begun even before the gavel comes down.

Pelosi and her fellow Democrats hammered Republicans Tuesday for scheduling a vote right out of the gate to repeal President Obama's health care reform law.

"Every minute wasted on trying to repeal health care reform fruitlessly is one less minute the Republicans will spend on job creation and turning this economy around," Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said.

With a new majority, Republicans will have the votes in the House for repeal, though the effort is destined to die in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Republicans said they aren't concerned with the possibility of making the same mistake that Democrats made of focusing too much on health care when what the American people want is more focus on jobs.

"What we're going to do is focus on the health care bill and the repeal of that," said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. "We have to do that because our constituents tell us this is a jobs killer."

Blackburn: Health Care Reform is a "Jobs Killer"

The president, returning from his Hawaiian vacation on Air Force One, shrugged off the repeal vote.

"They are going to play to their base for a certain period of time, but I'm pretty confident that they are going to recognize that our job is to govern and make sure that we are delivering jobs for the American people," Mr. Obama told reporters.

Unlike former Speaker Newt Gingrich, who marked the last Republican takeover with gloating press conferences and fancy galas, Boehner has tried to keep this transition low key, distancing himself from Tuesday night's $2,500-a-head fundraiser at a swanky D.C. hotel for a dozen of his new members featuring country music star LeAnn Rimes.

The image troubles some new tea party members who campaigned on fiscal austerity.

"I come up here, and I don't look like a NASCAR race driver with the corporate patches all over me," said Rep.-elect Allen West, R-Fla., said. "That's what the America people what. They want to know that their representative is owned by them."

The freshman congressman who arranged the fundraiser, Jeff Denham of California, defends it saying that if Republicans want to keep their majority in two years they're going to have to raise funds to get re-elected, just like everyone else.

GOP Doesn't Account for Health Care Repeal Cost

Boehner's second-in-command Eric Cantor refused to answer how Republicans are planning to cut a promised $100 billion dollars from the budget. Part of the reason for that vagueness is that when you're looking at cutting something like $100 billion from the budget, it's going to involve painful decisions that voters might not like. Cantor said everything has to be on the table, including defense spending.

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    Nancy Cordes is CBS News' congressional correspondent.