WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Democrats prepared to take control of both houses of Congress on Thursday with plans to quickly raise the minimum wage and toughen lobbying rules.
The Democratic takeover after most of the last dozen years in the minority comes with congressional leaders and President Bush stressing bipartisanship -- but with indications emerging of the partisan fights to come.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, is slated to become the new speaker of the House -- the first woman to hold that post -- and Sen. Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, is scheduled to take over as Senate majority leader. (Watch to see what the Democratic-led Congress might accomplish )
New members of Congress will also take their oaths in ceremonies on Thursday.
Exit polls showed that rising discontent over the war in Iraq and a spate of corruption scandals helped drive voters in November to hand Democrats control of both houses of Congress for the first time since 1994.
And a national poll released this week showed Democrats have strong support for nearly all the measures they want to pass in their first days in charge.
Reid invited both Democrats and Republicans to a rare closed-door conference Thursday in the Old Senate Chamber in hopes of setting a bipartisan mood after years of political rancor.
A memo from Reid to colleagues lays out the Senate's agenda, which closely follows planned votes in the House, starting with ethics and lobbying reform, a minimum wage hike, reforming the Medicare prescription drug program, acting on recommendations of the 9/11 commission and full funding of embryonic stem cell research
After passage of a series of routine resolutions -- including elevating 89-year-old Sen. Robert Byrd, D-West Virginia, as President Pro Tempore, third in the line of presidential succession
-- the Senate floor will open up for speeches about the upcoming session.
Incoming House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, told reporters that Democrats would move quickly on rules changes.
"On Thursday and Friday, we're going to adopt rules that will change the way the people's house operates to ensure its integrity, to ensure its openness and to ensure its transparency," Hoyer said Wednesday.
Tighter restrictions on spending earmarks, lobbying, gifts and travel will be proposed, Democratic House leaders said. (View what House Democrats pledge to pass in the first 100 legislative hours)
A $2.10 hourly increase in the minimum wage to $7.25 is among six bills Democrats pledged to advance in their first 100 hours of making new laws next week, after members are seated and committees are organized.
The minimum wage was last increased in 1997. Democrats want to phase increases over two years, a proposal that has drawn conditional support from President Bush. (Minimum wages by state)
But they may face a tougher hurdle in efforts to repeal Bush's ban on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research. In the only veto of his presidency to date, Bush killed a similar bill that passed with bipartisan support last year -- and White House spokesman Tony Snow said Wednesday that the president's position has not changed.
The schedule for the 100 legislative hours stretches from Tuesday through January 18, five days ahead of Bush's State of the Union address.
Bush: Avoid 'stalemate'
In a statement in the White House Rose Garden on Wednesday, Bush urged Congress to make the tax cuts passed during his administration permanent and grant him line-item veto power, which would allow the president to cut specific spending from a bill without killing the entire measure.
And in an opinion piece published in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal, Bush wrote that Democrats now have a responsibility to avoid creating a "stalemate" by passing bills "that are simply political statements."
"If a different approach is taken, the next two years can be fruitful ones for our nation," Bush wrote. (Full story)
The Supreme Court killed a previous law giving the president line-item veto power in 1998, and Hoyer said he opposes renewing it.
House Republicans, now facing life in the minority for the first time since 1994, complained that the Democrats are cutting them out of setting House rules. They urged Pelosi and other Democratic leaders to adopt the same "minority bill of rights" that Democrats had urged in 2004.
Watching the administration
Democrats also promise to beef up oversight of the Bush administration.
The new head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy, is already butting heads with the Justice Department over documents relating to the interrogation of suspected terrorists.
And the incoming chairmen of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees have already announced plans to hold hearings on the war in Iraq.
Party leaders got a dramatic show of pressure from anti-war protesters Wednesday, as peace activist Cindy Sheehan and others interrupted Hoyer's news conference with chants of "De-escalate, investigate, troops home now."