Democrat Nancy Pelosi of California has been sworn in as the first female speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Pelosi was elected to the post Thursday shortly after the new Congress convened.
Pelosi called her election an historic moment for the Congress and for the women of America, who have waited more than 200 years for true equality.
She also said Americans made it clear in the elections that gave Democrats the congressional majority for the first time in 12 years that they want change in Iraq.
Pelosi said it is up to President Bush to come up with a plan that promotes regional security, allows the redeployment of American troops and makes Iraqis responsible for their own security.
Democrats have vowed to push ahead with their domestic agenda, including loosening restrictions on stem cell research and increasing the minimum wage.
Stricter ethical guidelines for lawmakers was their first order of business.
Democrats hold a thin 51-to-49 majority in the Senate. In the House, they hold 233 seats, compared to the Republicans' 202.