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New Congress to be sworn in

11:12 AM, Jan 3, 2013   |    comments
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(NBC) - In Washington this morning, with the fiscal cliff behind them for now - Congress is moving on to a new fight with a new team.

The new Congress will be sworn in at noon (eastern) today.

The thing most pressing on the new Congress - the debt ceiling and the deficit.

The 113th Congress takes its oath this afternoon with 56 new Democrats... 38 new Republicans, and a record number of women.

The youngest - Hawaii's Tulsi Gabbard - a 31-year-old Iraq war veteran, and the first Hindu ever elected.

John Boehner's expected to be re-elected speaker today, but 17 conservatives could derail that.

He's already announced the first order of business: a vote Friday to provide billions to victims of Superstorm Sandy. "The bottom line is, between Friday morning and January 15th, two votes will bring in 60 billion dollars that's absolutely necessary for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut," said Rep. Peter King, (R) New York.

Also tops on their agenda, raising the debt ceiling - so America can borrow more to pay its bills, but Republicans will insist on cutting spending first. "The President is addicted to spending. He wants to spend. He wants a new credit card after he's maxed out the last one," said Senator John Barrasso, (R) Wyoming.

"If the President thinks that he's not going to negotiate, he'd better think again. He's President of the United States -- he's not emperor of the planet," said Rep. Tom Cole, (R) Oklahoma.

The last time congress fought over the debt ceiling, the U.S. saw its first ever credit downgrade. "It may take a default, another downgrade, the serious economic consequences that flow from it, to jolt us back to some kind of reality," said Norm Ornstein of Congressional Scholar.

A new Congress with old issues still undecided.

Tracie Potts, NBC News.

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