The Straits Times
Published on Jan 04, 2013

New US Congress faces broader fiscal battles


WASHINGTON (AFP) - The 113th United States (US) Congress, featuring dozens of new faces in the House and Senate, convened on Thursday fresh from the year-end "fiscal cliff" fiasco, as lawmakers cast a wary eye towards the tough budget battles ahead.

Twelve freshman senators and 82 newly-elected congressmen took the oath of office, with President Barack Obama's Democrats enjoying modest gains in both chambers.

But the balance of power remains divided on Capitol Hill: Democrats control the Senate, while Republicans hold sway in the House of Representatives, where Mr John Boehner kept his job as speaker.

There was little expectation that he would lose the leadership role, but Republican infighting over backing a fiscal cliff deal that hikes taxes on the wealthy triggered speculation about Mr Boehner's hold on the gavel.