The new Republican majority in Congress took control Tuesday with several new faces from Georgia as part of the mix.
Sen. David Perdue took the oath of office, replacing retired Sen. Saxby Chambliss. He joins now senior Sen. Johnny Isakson and 10 GOP House members, four of them newcomers, in Georgia’s largest ever Republican delegation.
The GOP now holds 54 of 100 seats in the Senate.
"As part of the new Senate majority, I am going to roll my sleeves up and get to work fighting for the people of Georgia," Perdue said in a statement released by his office. "My commitment is to build consensus and work with my colleagues to produce results, but never compromise my principles. I hope to bring a fresh perspective and some business sense to the U.S. Senate.
“I came to Washington for one reason: to make America better for future generations.”
The same scene occurred in the House, where Rep. Doug Collins. R-Gainesville, began his second full term. Republicans now hold 246 House seats to 188 for Democrats, the biggest GOP majority in nearly 70 years.
Georgia’s new representatives include Buddy Carter of Pooler (1st District); Jody Hice of Monroe (10th); Barry Loudermilk of Cassville (11th); and Rick Allen of Evans (12th).
Seeking unity despite the internal party dissension, the GOP moved swiftly toward a veto showdown with President Barack Obama over the long-stalled Keystone XL pipeline, a taste of things to come in divided government.
At the White House, Obama planned to meet with the new congressional leadership next week as both sides positioned themselves for two years of clashes and, perhaps, occasional cooperation that will help shape the outcomes of the 2016 presidential and congressional elections.
McConnell replaces Democrat Harry Reid of Nevada, who was a surprise no-show from the day's proceedings after he injured himself exercising.
Newcomers and veterans alike lifted their hands to swear the oath of office, many with spouses, children and grandchildren looking on to witness the biennial display of pageantry. The spectacle drew political veterans back to the Capitol as former Vice President Walter Mondale, a Democrat, and former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Republican, mixed with lawmakers on the Senate floor.
McConnell and Boehner both were to deliver remarks as they began laying down markers for legislative battles ahead.
First, Boehner had to survive his re-election as speaker — the main event on any opening day's agenda. Tea party-backed Reps. Louie Gohmert of Texas and Ted Yoho and Daniel Webster of Florida were nominated by colleagues as challengers to Boehner, and more than a dozen Republicans announced they would oppose Boehner.
The ranks of the opponents grew in the hours ahead of Tuesday's vote, but appeared far short of the number needed to place Boehner's election in jeopardy. Many lawmakers dismissed the challenge as a needless distraction at a moment when the party should be showing voters it can lead.
"It's time to put all this silliness behind and move on," said Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn. "We're on probation. If we don't perform ... (voters) can make a pivot in a heartbeat."
But Boehner's hand is strong after the Republicans' sweeping electoral triumph. The party will hold 246 House seats in the new Congress, to 188 for the Democrats, the biggest GOP majority in nearly 70 years.