Washington (CNN) - If you thought Congress was stymied by politics and gridlock last year, the top Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate left little doubt the New Year would bring more of the same.
Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said because of the election year "things should be more tense than usual."
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Speaking on the Senate floor in the opening moments of new legislative year, Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, both said they hoped the two sides would find areas of cooperation to help the economy but immediately said the onus was on the other party to change its ways.
Invoking the founding fathers, Reid said he doubted "they envisioned the obstructionism and gridlock that ground the work of the Congress to a halt last year. Influenced by these tea party voices, Republicans forced us to waste months on routine legislation that nearly shut down the government and held hostage the full faith and credit of the United States."
"Let's be clear," McConnell responded, "the reason our economy has gotten worse and our future more uncertain has nothing to do with what Republicans in Congress won't do at some point in the future and everything to do with what this president has already done. Americans are looking for a new direction. It's one that focuses on growing the economy, not growing our nation's debt."
In the year ahead, Reid said Democrats will work to strengthen the economy and create jobs through "common sense policies" such as infrastructure spending.
"We must combat income inequality now or the rich will keep getting richer and the poor getting poorer while the middle class disappears," Reid said.
McConnell said Republicans would work to boost the economy and create jobs by pressing for "fundamental tax reform, regulatory reform and energy security."
"Americans want a government that's simpler, streamlined, and secure. But we wont' be able to achieve these things if Democrats refuse to try, if they've decided to spend the next year on show votes and legislation that's designed for the bus tours instead of bill signings."
Even as they staked out their partisan positions for the year, each took time out to express his concern for Sen. Mark Kirk, R-ILL, who is recovering from a stroke.
"I have followed it as closely as I have been able to and the doctors say that he'll recover and I'm confident that's true," Reid said.
"It is at moments like these that we're all reminded of how fragile life is, and that there are far more important things in life that politics," McConnell said. "So we send Mark and his family our prayers and our wishes for a speedy recovery."