His pick, former Illinois attorney general Burris, is well-regarded but lost his last four campaigns.
But many exiting lawmakers also bring years of experience to the Obama administration.
Congress's rescue of financial institutions may prove the exception, as automakers learned last week.
In the Senate, many Republicans resist $14 billion package, worried that the industry won't repay US loans or become more competitive.
The $15 billion draft bailout comes with strict conditions and immense federal oversight.
Lawmakers say bankruptcy for Detroit's Big Three is 'not a viable option.'
The president-elect’s influence is altering both policy directions and the partisan tone in Congress.
An auto bailout, a second stimulus package, and foreclosure help are on hold as Washington awaits the new administration.
Readers write about the US government's role in the global tobacco industry, whether the Democrats will end partisanship in Washington, and Europe's reaction to the election of Barack Obama.