CAPITOL HILL —
As U.S. lawmakers return to Washington for the brand new 114th Congress, Republicans likely will exert greater influence after winning control of the Senate and boosting their majority in the House of Representatives.
After a Christmas vacation with his family in Hawaii, President Obama returned to Washington to face a stark new political reality.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told CNN’s "State of the Union" that the Senate will vote on a lot of things the president is not going to like, such as a proposed oil pipeline and energy deregulation. McConnell said the balance of power has shifted.
“Now he needs to talk to us. And that’s good, because when the American people elect a divided government, they’re not saying they don’t want anything done," he said. "What they are saying is, they want things done in the political center."
One of the new Republican members of Congress, Mia Love, says lawmakers need to pay more attention to voters.
“”You know, we have faced dysfunction because people on both sides of the aisle have said, you know, we want Americans to trust us again," she said. "And we have got that backwards. We have to trust the American people again.”
On the Democratic side of the aisle, Senator Elizabeth Warren strongly disagrees with the Republican agenda, saying Congress needs to focus on the nation’s disadvantaged.
"Washington already works really well for the billionaires and the big corporations and the lawyers and the lobbyists," she said. "But what about the families who lost their homes or their jobs or their retirement savings the last time Citigroup bet big on derivatives and lost? ...We were sent here to fight for those families. It is time, it is past time, for Washington to start working for them!"
Analyst Stuart Rothenberg says Warren represents a growing populist wing within the Democratic Party.
“The populist, anti-establishment, Democratic progressive Left is developing," he said. "Supporters of Senator Elizabeth Warren, Mayor DeBlasio from New York, the movement that wants to talk more about equality and fairness, $15-$20 minimum wage, that is a growing force within the Democratic Party.”
But on issues such as immigration, Rothenberg says Republicans are more divided than Democrats.
“So in that regard, Republicans are more divided," he said. "The Republicans are more intimidated at the moment by their most ideological wing, the Tea Party folks, and so they probably have somewhat more blame for the paralysis.”
As expert crews work on restoring the beautiful dome on the outside of the U.S. Capitol, some analysts say lawmakers on the inside also have plenty of work to do to restore trust and find common ground.