New Congress Starts under Shadow of Old Problems

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CAPITOL HILL - On a bright and sunny day inside the Washington Beltway, lawmakers old and new alike took the oath of office Thursday as the the first day of the new 113th Congress began.

Lawmakers officially kicked off the start of the new session by electing their leaders, including Rep. John Boehner, who will keep his job as Speaker of the House.

**Speaker of the House John Boehner was re-elected to his post but not without a challenge. John Jessup explains more, on CBN Newswatch, Jan. 3.

While some appeared hopeful, others were not, especially in light of what's on their plate and current public sentiment about politics in Washington.

With a meager 18 percent approval rating, Americans have a sour view of lawmakers, their image hurt by the partisan bickering over the fiscal cliff.

It doesn't help that the last session of Congress won the distinction of being "the least-productive Congress in 65 years."

This morning, some on Capitol Hill started the first day at a bipartisan prayer service.

House Chaplain Father Patrick Conroy reminded them that they are called to be servants.

"That each member might fully understand who they are called to be, someone much greater than they might be able to imagine themselves to be now - not because they've got power or because they've got authority, but because they have servanthood," Conroy said.

But both parties remain deeply divided over key issues like gun control, immigration reform, jump-starting a slow economy, and tackling the massive $16.4 trillion debt and deficit spending.

With so much unfinished business from the last Congress, the new Congress with some new faces will have to deal with many of the same old problems.

Earlier, Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who had been absent for the past year while recovering from a stroke, slowly walked up the 45 steps to the Senate, as Senate leaders were ready at the top to greet him.

"A courageous man," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

As he entered the building, resting on a cane, Biden and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., helped Kirk take off his coat. The senator said he was glad to be back.

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John Jessup

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John Jessup serves as the main news anchor for CBN, a position he assumed after 10 years reporting for the network in Washington, D.C. His work in broadcast news has earned him several awards in reporting, producing, and coordinating elections coverage. Follow John on Twitter @JohnCBNNews and "like" him at Facebook.com/John.V.Jessup.