Sen. Elizabeth Warren is a Democrat who represents Massachusetts.
PHOTO: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Sen. Elizabeth Warren is a Democrat who represents Massachusetts.

Story highlights

Warren and two other women senators joined the Senate Democratic leadership team

Reid said he picked Warren for the leadership "to be Elizabeth Warren"

Reid said women have improved the Senate's effectiveness

(CNN) —  

Firebrand Sen. Elizabeth Warren joined Senate Democratic leadership Thursday after Senate Democrats convened Thursday to assemble a leadership team for their role as the incoming minority caucus.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who was elected to continue leading the Democratic caucus in the minority, said he tapped Warren to join Thursday because of who she is.

“I expect her to be Elizabeth Warren,” Reid said explaining what he expects the Massachusetts senator to do as part of the leadership team.

Warren, known for hitting populist notes in stump speeches, said she was excited to join the Democratic leadership to continue fighting for the middle class.

“Wall Street is doing very well, CEOs are bringing in millions more and families all across this country are struggling,” she said. “We have to make this government work for the American people.”

And flanked by Warren and the two other women who are joining his leadership team (Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Debbie Stabenow), Reid said women in the Senate have brought positive change to the legislative body.

“I’ve seen this institution change for a lot of reasons,” Reid, who has been in Congress for three decades, said. “One reason it has changed for good is because of women. Women think differently than men.”

Reid also insisted that Democrats would stray from replicating what he described as an obstructionist Republican minority once his party loses the gavel.

“This is not get-even time,” Reid said. “I do not intend to run the Democratic caucus like the Republican caucus has been run in the minority.”

A Senate Democratic leadership aide said earlier that Reid would like Warren to join the leadership because he “trusts her and her judgment.”

And while not every Senate Democrat wants Warren, a high-profile, liberal junior senator in a leadership post, the leadership aide said “Reid will get his way.”

Sen. Jon Tester of Montana also joined the leadership team and will head the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee as Democrats look to reclaim the majority in 2016.

One Democratic senator, Chris Murphy of Connecticut, said the inclusion of Warren is a sign the party mistakenly moved away from core Democratic stances – such as defending Obamacare on the campaign trail – and needs to be more focused on middle class issues like raising the minimum wage.

“There’s nobody better than Elizabeth at talking to people who feel this sense of very real economic disenchantment,” Murphy said.

Despite the mid-term election losses, Reid and the other top members of the Democratic leadership were all re-elected, although two centrist members of the caucus voted against Reid.

“When you have an election like this, common sense says we need to change things,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri. “The voice was very loud and unmistakable that most Americans, and most Missourians, want us to change things. To me that means changing leadership and it was just that simple.”

Sen. Joe Manchin said the Democrats’ problems are deep rooted and change is needed.

“I voted for a change and that change was not voting for this leadership,” Manchin told reporters.

The top GOP leaders were all re-elected: Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky will become majority leader, flanked by Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming and Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri.

Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi beat out Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada to lead the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Elizabeth Warren: I’ve been treated differently

CNN’s Dana Bash contributed to this report.