Posted: 4:49 pm Monday, January 5th, 2015
By Jamie Dupree
The start of a new Congress is always a unique time in the House and Senate, as lawmakers roam the hallways with their parents, siblings, kids, supporters and friends, and members of both parties take a little time to celebrate their achievements before settling in to take some partisan punches at each other.
And there are stories around every corner.
“Are you going to interview my dad?” asked the young daughter of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), as she and her brother had fun watching their father be interviewed in a House office building.
You could only smile at the situation; Bridenstine’s kids mugging for the camera after he was done; his interviews meanwhile were centered on his attempt to dump Speaker of the House John Boehner.
As I walked the hallways on Monday, poking my head into the offices of newly elected members, you could sense the excitement of both lawmakers and their staffs about the arrival of the 114th Congress.
“We’re getting there,” said a beaming Rep. Rick Allen (R-GA) as he shook hands with me in between meetings with staff members in his private office.
Most of the freshmen lawmakers were still trying to get their offices in order on Monday; when I entered the office of Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK), the woman at the front desk wasn’t the receptionist, but someone making sure the office computers were working.
“I’m just with IT,” she said with a smile, as she handed my card to Russell’s Chief of Staff, who was also coming to Washington for the first time.
“I’m a childhood friend,” Dean Fisher told me, saying he had left a job in academia back in Oklahoma to come help his buddy navigate the halls of Congress.
In a later phone conversation, when I suggested to Fisher that he was being pulled in about 8 million different directions, he said, “8 million might be an understatement.”
It’s all part of the odd combination of organizing an office, trying to hit the ground running at work, and celebrating the hard work that allowed you to win a seat in the Congress.
— Barry Loudermilk (@Loudermilk2014) January 5, 2015
The Congressional hallways on Monday were also cluttered with young people bearing folders that held resumes, still looking to land a job on Capitol Hill.
Around every corner, there was also the evidence of change; trash bins, moving equipment and workers making last minute fixes in various Congressional offices.
The biggest line I saw all day wasn’t for lunch at the cafeteria, but at the “ID services” office, as new staffers were getting the necessary identification to get them in the building for work.
Over on the Senate side, newly elected members were also getting ready, like Republican James Lankford of Oklahoma, who will move from the House to the Senate.
— Rep. James Lankford (@SenatorLankford) January 5, 2015
The 114th Congress convenes at 12 noon ET on Tuesday.
About the Author
Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog. A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989.