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CNN Today

New Senators Sworn in on Hill

Aired January 3, 2001 - 1:42 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: No doubt that the senators -- the new senators on Capitol Hill are appreciating hearing what's happening on Wall Street, and the announcement from Mr. Greenspan. These new senators, some of them not new, but they were officially sworn in today. That's why they're new, and of course, one of the senators is the first lady.

Let's to CNN's Jonathan Karl, who joins us from Capitol Hill, with the story -- Jonathan.

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Natalie, just an incredible political story up here on Capitol Hill today. The Senate being sworn in, a Senate 50/50 evenly divided. The first evenly divided Senate since 1880. The first this century to be evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. And swearing them all in was none other than Al Gore.

The vice president, of course, the vanquished presidential candidate, still in charge, still the one casting the deciding vote for these 17 days before Republican Dick Cheney is sworn in as the Vice President of the United States, and of course, as the president of the Senate. So this quite a day here.

There's been a struggle behind the scenes over how exactly this Senate would be run, how the power would be divided: meaning it is divided 50/50. Senator Tom Daschle was sworn in today as the majority leader. He'll be the majority leader for those 17 days. Trent Lott, the Republican, taking over once the new administration is sworn in.

And of course, the most famous senator sworn in today: the junior senator from New York, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. The first lady was sworn in. She may be the most famous freshman senator ever sworn in to the United States. Watching out of camera view, from the balconies -- from the visitor's galleries, was Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton, both watching Hillary Rodham Clinton getting sworn in.

Meanwhile, over on the other side of the Capitol, the speaker of the House sworn in for the second time, Dennis Hastert. Hastert sworn in with the votes of, of course, all the Republicans over in that narrowly divided body, and also with the vote of one Democrat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Traficant. Hastert.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: Congressman Traficant, a longtime Democrat, but also a very independently minded Democrat. He had said some time ago that he would not vote for the Democrat Dick Gephardt as the speaker of the House. So there you have it: one Democrat voting for Dennis Hastert.

Interesting side note on that is that Traficant is expected to be essentially kicked out of the Democratic caucus. No official words from the Democratic leadership, but top Democratic leadership aides are saying that Traficant can expect to get no committee assignments from the Democratic leadership and can expect to essentially not be invited to any of the Democratic caucus meetings in this new Congress.

Natalie, back to you.

ALLEN: All right, the goings-on in Washington. Capitol Hill gears up. Thanks, Jonathan.

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