It's the first day, cliques have already been formed and there are around-the-world parties. Family members roam the hallways, everybody is lost, and nobody is really sick of being here yet.
It's a cliché to compare the start of the 113th Congress to the start of college, but damn if it isn't accurate.
The top floor of the Longworth office building looked like the first night in a dormitory, with many offices hosting their own parties to celebrate with friends, constituents, and staff. People spilled out from Democratic Rep. Ron Kind's office, clutching Wisconsin beers (Ale Asylum's Hopalicious was a big hit) that were being stored in buckets of ice behind the front desk. Kind's press spokesperson was quick to point out—unprompted even—that the beers were not paid for by taxpayers.
The first day isn't just a time for partying, it's also the time for first impressions. When the new Congress voted to elect Rep. John Boehner the Speaker of the House yet again, some obvious factions were forming. Reps. Justin Amash of Michigan, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Raul Labrador of Idaho all sat next to each other. Nearby were Reps. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, Walter Jones of North Carolina, and newly-elected Ted Yoho of Florida. None of these men voted for Boehner. All of them will be fun to watch in the new Congress.
But, for all the hugging, back patting, and excitement that comes with the first day, there is an understanding among many that the days ahead are going to be difficult.
"The problem with the last freshman class was that there were 87 people all going in different directions," said Rep. Richard Hudson, a new member from North Carolina. Hudson has more experience in the halls of Congress than his fellow classmates, having worked as a chief of staff in Washington for five years. He says for this class to actually be able to tackle the challenges ahead, they need to stick together.
"I can't stand up on a desk and tell them all to follow me," he said. "But we need to come to a consensus about what our objectives are, and who our leader is going to be. The lesson we've learned these last couple of years is that we need to agree as conservatives and then fight for what we believe."
Below, are the scenes from the Senate and House swearing-in ceremonies.
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