The moment we’ve all been waiting for! Today, the 115th Congress hands over the reins to the 116th Congress. The accountability that we’ve desperately needed these past two years has arrived, at least in the House. The new members will be sworn in and the Speaker of the House will be voted on.
What is the oath of office members of Congress take?
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”
Who are the leaders of this Congress?
In the House, where the Democrats have the majority, Nancy Pelosi is widely expected to win the Speakership. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is House majority leader, and Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) is House majority whip. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is House minority leader, and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) is House minority whip.
In the Senate, where the Republicans have the majority, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is Senate majority leader, and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) is Senate majority whip. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is Senate minority leader, and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is Senate minority whip.
Just how diverse is this Congress?
Both the House and Senate have set new records for the number of women serving. In the House, there are 102 women, which is 23% of the chamber. In the Senate, 25 women are serving, which is (of course) 25% of the chamber.
22% of this Congress is represented by African-Americans, Hispanics/Latin Americans, Asians/Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans.
The average age of the incoming class of freshman is 49 years old. Politico has a terrific interactive infographic about how diverse and record-setting the incoming class is, which you can find HERE.
When does the new Congress get to work?
The first votes will happen right away, and we know that Pelosi has set up legislation to be voted on tomorrow (to end the government shutdown).
When will the members of each committee be determined?
One of the first orders of business for a new Congress is confirming the Chair (majority party) and the Ranking Member (minority party) for each committee. After they are confirmed, the other members will be proposed and selected. You can find the full list of House committees HERE and for the Senate HERE.
How can I stay on top of what’s going on in Congress?
My favorite two sites are GovTrack and Countable. Both websites (and Countable is also an app) allow you to customize your experience based on who your Members of Congress are and issues that you want to stay informed on.
UPDATE: Nancy Pelosi secured enough votes to become the Speaker of the House.