Dems Take Over Senate

It was D-Day in the Senate Wednesday as the Democrats moved in to take command for the first time since 1994.

With Vermont Sen. James Jeffords' departure from the GOP finally official, Democrats are taking control of the full Senate by a 50-49 margin, plus Jeffords, and of each of its committees. But Republicans weren't giving up that easily.

"I want everybody to understand that while we may not be in the majority, we are going to make sure that the American people's agenda is considered as we see it," the outgoing majority leader, Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., said Tuesday.

The morning of his first day at the helm, new Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle stressed bipartisanship, but cautioned he would also use his party's new muscle to stop President Bush on areas where they disagree.

"Our role is to try to find a way to work together, to agree where we can, to compromise where we find the real possibility of doing so. But obviously on occasion we will see it as our role to stop something that we don't think is appropriate policy," he said on ABC's Good Morning America.

Daschle, D-S.D., appeared on morning news shows on five television networks just hours before he was to be recognized on the Senate floor as majority leader for the first time. "Both sides have to come to the middle. We can't just lob bombs," he said on NBC's Today Show.

Daschle cited education, patients' rights and energy as areas where he said the two parties can reach compromise.

But after his television appearances, he conceded in a brief interview that it may be difficult for the Senate to be productive with the narrow majority Democrats will have.

"That's what remains to be seen, what can the Senate produce under these circumstances," he said.

Republican leaders were also talking about compromise, but showing a combative side as well.

"We should have a war of ideas, and we should have a full campaign for the Senate in 2002," said Lott, whose five years as majority leader saw some conservatives accuse him of being too accommodating to Democrats.