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Senate leaders unchanged; House to choose Wednesday

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Reid re-elected Senate majority leader
  • NEW: Hoyer says he hopes many defeated Democrats are able to return
  • House leadership elections are scheduled for Wednesday
  • Sens. Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell will stay as Dem and GOP Senate leaders
  • The rest of the top Senate leadership for both parties also remains the same

Washington (CNN) -- The top Democratic and Republican Senate leadership will remain the same for the incoming 112th Congress.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, were chosen by their Democratic and Republican colleagues, respectively, to head their party caucuses again.

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin remains the chamber's No. 2 Democrat; New York's Charles Schumer will keep his post as the third-ranking Democrat, Reid announced. Arizona Sen. John Kyl and Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander will once again fill the second and third highest slots in the GOP chain of command, McConnell said.

Addressing reporters on Capitol Hill, Reid urged the Republicans to work for bipartisan cooperation next year -- something, he asserted, they largely failed to do in the current Congress.

Republican Senate leaders re-elected

"The American people elected us to get along," he said. "It's not the Democratic way or the highway. It's not the Republican way or the highway."

McConnell said the midterm election results show that people want the federal government to "cut the spending, cut the debt and get private sector job creation going again."

The Republican leader said he had held "numerous conversations" with President Obama recently, and hoped to work more closely with the White House.

Democrats currently hold a 59-41 edge in the Senate. They will hold a narrower 53-47 advantage starting in January.

On the House side, leadership elections for the Democratic and Republican caucuses are scheduled for Wednesday. Republicans, who won a net gain of at least 60 seats in the midterm elections, will control that chamber next year.

House Democrats have been divided since their midterm losses, with a diminished faction of more conservative "Blue Dog" members pushing to replace outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California.

North Carolina Rep. Heath Shuler, a member of the Blue Dogs, has announced a challenge to Pelosi for the top Democratic slot, but is widely expected to lose. Pelosi, who retains significant backing in what will be a smaller, more uniformly liberal Democratic caucus, has argued the party's losses were due less to her national lack of popularity and more to stubbornly high unemployment and a deluge of campaign spending from unaccountable right-wing sources.

Democrats were expecting a tough fight for the No. 2 slot between the more moderate Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer -- the current House majority leader -- and the more liberal South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn -- now the majority whip.

But a deal brokered by Pelosi over the weekend defused the tension. Hoyer is now expected to keep his position while Clyburn takes a new No. 3 position with the title "assistant leader."

The deal also allows Rep. John Larson of Connecticut to keep his post as Democratic caucus chairman and Rep. Xavier Becerra of California to remain as the vice chair of the Democratic caucus.

Hoyer addressed the Democrats' diminished status in the House after meeting with other caucus members on Tuesday.

"It was a very positive, candid meeting," he said. "We heard from those who were not successful [in their campaigns], but who clearly believe their career here to date -- [we] hope many of them come back -- was positive, that they did good things for the American public."

CNN's Ted Barrett, Alan Silverleib and Evan Glass contributed to this report