"The American people are sick and tired of the 'Washington knows best' mentality. All the power in this town is on loan from the people," he told the group, which he noted includes seven farmers, six physicians, three car dealers, two funeral home directors, a former FBI agent, a pizzeria owner, an NFL lineman, and an airline pilot.
First though, lawmakers must see through the postelection session, which is expected to be unpopular and unproductive as they have been in the past.
While Republicans are looking forward to taking back control of the House in January, many Democrats are cleaning out their desks and searching for new jobs.
The lame-duck Congress has to act before the end of the year on expiring Bush-era tax cuts in order to protect millions of people from large tax increases.
President Barack Obama wants to extend the tax cuts for couples earning less than $250,000 annually while seeking a compromise like a temporary continuation for wealthier taxpayers.
Other matters on the agenda are: giving Social Security recipients a $250 check to make up for the lack of 2011 cost-of-living increase; extending unemployment benefits; allowing gays to serve openly in the military; ratifying a nuclear weapons reduction treaty with Russia; and extending government oversight of food safety.
Congress will be in session for a week, break for Thanksgiving week and return on Nov. 29. Lawmakers will continue until they complete their work or give up.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.