As the Republican and Democratic caucuses readied for the 112th Congress, a few controversies brewed within the ranks, but open-air fights over leadership and policy have mostly been squashed as the caucuses begin deciding on their new directions today.
In the House, Democrats squabbled over leadership positions as current Whip James Clyburn found himself in a race for that position with current Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. Along with the majority, Democrats lost a leadership post (the role of Speaker disappears), so it appeared someone would have to step aside, and that a vote for the whip job would unfold.
But as it became clear that Hoyer would win out, Speaker Pelosi cut a deal to create an "assistant leader" position for Clyburn, avoiding an actual vote between the two longtime members. The Congressional Black Caucus had withheld support for Pelosi in her quest for minority leader as of last night, seeking answers on what Clyburn's new portfolio would entail, but the fight for leadership positions was not as messy as it could have been.
Senate Republicans, meanwhile, have faced a dispute over earmarks that has pitted caucus leadership against fiscal conservatives and a handful of incoming, Tea-Party-backed new senators elected earlier this month. Sen. Jim DeMint has pushed the caucus to agree not to request any earmarks in the next Congress, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, along with some other influential Senate veterans, had opposed him.