GOP votes McConnell to lead Senate; Dems elevate Warren

Susan Davis, USA TODAY3:30 p.m. EST November 13, 2014

(Photo: Alex Wong, Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans elected by acclamation Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to serve as majority leader when the new Congress convenes in January. Senators held leadership elections Thursday morning.

McConnell's elevation was not in doubt after Republicans picked up at least eight seats in the midterm elections. A Louisiana Senate race heads to a Dec. 6 runoff where GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy is favored over Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu. If he wins, McConnell will have a 54-seat majority next year.

Democrats re-elected Harry Reid of Nevada to lead their caucus, but also added new faces to their leadership team to include Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in policy advisor roles. Warren is a popular figure among the party's progressive base, which had lackluster turnout on Election Day.

Senate Democrats now have four women serving in a leadership team that also includes Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.

At least two Democrats, Sens. Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, said they did not support Reid's re-election. "They want change in Washington," McCaskill said in a statement. "Common sense tells me that begins with changes in leadership."

McConnell, first elected to the Senate in 1984, has served as minority leader since 2007. The GOP takeover delivered him a personal career goal to serve as majority leader. He is the second Kentucky senator elected to the post.

Former Kentucky Democratic Sen. Alben Barkley served as majority leader before becoming vice president under President Harry Truman, and he briefly considered a presidential run. McConnell is not known to harbor ambitions beyond the Senate chamber.

Senate Republicans also elected Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi to chair their 2016 campaign operation. Wicker defeated Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada. Democrats selected Sen. Jon Tester of Montana to chair their 2016 campaign operation.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada delivers remarks alongside Democratic Sens. Patty Murray, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren and Debbie Stabenow on Nov. 13, 2014.(Photo: Michael Reynolds, European Pressphoto Agency)

Across the Capitol on Thursday, House Republicans re-elected House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who will need to be approved by the full U.S. House on the first day of the new Congress, as required by the Constitution. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., were also re-elected to their leadership posts.

House Democrats will hold leadership elections next week. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is seeking re-election unopposed.