Democrats, boosted by the power of incumbency, retained control of the 101st Congress to no one's surprise Tuesday and are not likely to grant George Bush much of a honeymoon when he assumes the presidency.
Bush pledged to "do my best to reach out and work constructively" with Congress, but since retaking the Senate two years ago, Democrats have been flexing their muscle on Capitol Hill with their own agenda.And the continued presence in the Senate of Lloyd Bentsen, D-Texas, the unsuccessful Democratic vice presidential candidate, may present Bush with a formidable obstacle.
Democrats appeared assured of retaining at least their 54-46 edge in the Senate, and projections pointed to the possibility of a two-seat gain. Of the 33 Senate seats at stake, 18 belonged to Democrats and 15 to Republicans. Each party left three seats open with retirements.
The House, which closed the 100th Congress at 255-177 for the Democrats with three vacancies, remained solidly in Democratic hands with a gain of six seats expected.
In the Senate races, Democrats had won 18 seats and led in two more, while Republicans had won 13. In House races, Democrats had won 252 seats and led in seven more races, while Republicans had won 169 and led in four others.
Among Senate incumbents, Nevada Republican Chic Hecht fell to former Gov. Richard Bryan, and appointed Nebraska Sen. David Karnes was denied a term in his own right by popular former two-term Democratic Gov. Robert Kerrey, a Vietnam Medal of Honor winner. And former farm broadcaster Conrad Burns toppled Democratic Sen. John Melcher in Montana.
In the House, Rep. Fernand St Germain, D-R.I., chairman of the Banking Committee but in trouble over ethics questions, was ousted. Incumbents were running in all but 27 of the 435 House districts.
Senate seats in two - Connecticut and Florida - were undecided in the early morning hours.
Liberal Republican incumbent Lowell Weicker, of Connecticut, who trailed conservative Democratic state Attorney General Joseph Lieberman by about 6,000 votes, refused to concede and said he may seek a recount.
In Florida, Rep. Buddy MacKay held a 12,000-vote edge over conservative Republican Connie Mack for an "open" Democratic seat.
Former Republican Sen. Slade Gorton, making a comeback bid in Washington state after a two-year absence, beat Rep. Mike Lowrey, D-Wash., in a cliffhanger.
In a squeaker, ultraconservative Republican Sen. Malcolm Wallop, of Wyoming, beat state Sen. John Vinich by fewer than 1,000 votes.
In California, first-termer Pete Wilson won his race against Democratic Lt. Gov. Leo McCarthy, breaking a jinx on the seat and becoming the first incumbent returned to Washington in that seat in 36 years.
Democrats added Virginia to their Senate column with a win by a rising star in the party's moderate wing. Popular former Gov. Chuck Robb had an easy victory over Maurice Dawkins, one of two blacks running for Senate seats this year under the GOP banner. The Old Dominion's seat had been held by a Republican. In Maryland, Alan Keyes was buried in a landside by incumbent Democratic Sen. Paul Sarbanes.
Bentsen, chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, won a new Senate term under the Texas law that allowed Lyndon Johnson to run both for vice president and senator in 1960.
In seat-swapping, Democrat Kerrey defeated 41-year-old Karnes, the Senate's youngest member. Republican Rep. Trent Lott won the Democratic seat in Mississippi that was opened by the retirement of the dean of the Senate, Democrat John Stennis.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., held off a determined challenge from Pete Dawkins, a retired Army general and former Heisman Trophy winner, in a race that became one of the dirtiest on record.
Wisconsin's "open" Democratic seat went to wealthy businessman Herbert Kohl, a Democrat who poured more than $5 million of his own money into a race against Susan Engeleiter.
Senate incumbents largely held on to their seats.
In addition to Sarbanes, Democratic incumbents winning new terms included Dennis DeConcini of Arizona, Spark Matsunaga of Hawaii, George Mitchell of Maine, Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, Don Reigle of Michigan, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Daniel Moynihan of New York, Howard Metzenbaum of Ohio, James Sasser of Tennessee and Robert Byrd of West Virginia, retiring as Senate Democratic leader and moving over to the powerful Appropriations Committee.
Republican incumbents returned for another six-year term included William Roth of Delaware, Richard Lugar of Indiana, David Durenberger of Minnesota, John Danforth of Missouri, John Heinz of Pennsylvania, John Chafee of Rhode Island and Orrin Hatch of Utah.
House leaders had no serious opposition, and St Germain's loss was the sole standout among the senior House members. St Germain's relationship with the banking and savings and loan industries had come under scrutiny, and he was knocked off by Republican attorney Ronald Machtley.
Republican Rep. Pat Swindall of an Atlanta suburb, facing a federal perjury trial, was ousted by Democrat Ben Jones, a political newcomer known from his days as "Cooter" on television's "Dukes of Hazzard" show. Jones will become the second actor in the House. Republican Fred Grandy of Iowa, who played "Gopher" on the show "Love Boat," won a second term.
Two former sports figures won re-election to a second term - Rep. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., a former professional baseball pitcher, and Rep. Tom McMillen, D-Md., a former professional basketball player.
North Carolina's mountainous 11th district, which had not returned an incumbent to office since 1980, broke its string of fickleness and returned Democrat James Clarke to the House.
Republicans last controlled both the House and Senate in the 1952 landslide that put Dwight Eisenhower in the White House. Democrats won back Congress in 1954, and since then Republicans have never been in the majority in the House and only held the Senate in the first six years of the Reagan administration.