Rep.-elect Joe Heck looks over papers during orientation Monday. The Nevada Republican said his schedule was so packed that he had absolutely no free time.
“There’s absolutely no free time,” the Nevada Republican said. “The schedule is so packed that I just look at what it is right before it happens and go.” He said he sent his wife and his campaign manager to look at offices while he sat through orientation so that come Friday’s anticipated room lottery, he can have some choices ready.
It’s all old hat to second-time Rep.-elect Steve Chabot (R). He reclaimed the Ohio seat he lost in 2008 from Steve Driehaus (D), so his 14 years in the House prior to 2008 carry over and count toward seniority. As a result, he was among the first batch of Members to pick offices.
“Now I’m an old energetic new guy,” he said while playing hooky from an orientation panel for sophomore Members.
Rep.-elect Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) did attend that session and said Members-elect were somewhat timid to ask the upperclassmen about minutia such as whether you can drive in the carpool lane by yourself in D.C. (the answer is no, he said).
“The questions were kind of slow coming, and then people got warmed up and they started asking about, you know, flying. And do you buy or rent, or other options that might be out there,” he said. “Basic things that everyone’s had on the back of their mind: Do I live out in the suburbs? And how long does it really take me to get here?”
Palazzo said the ethics session was helpful and carried a simple message: “If you don’t want to show up on the front page of the paper, don’t do it.”
A similar message awaited Senators-elect. A cardboard sign in their orientation room read: “Senators-elect beware. Your office can be sued.”
But the procedure was much more subdued. A few tables in the Mansfield Room hosted a panel of first-term Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Mike Johanns (R-Neb.).
“I said: ‘You can be a person that gets all the national headlines. You can be on every the Sunday morning program there is,’” Johanns said. “If you can’t deliver in the Senate office, none of that’s going to work.’”
The Senators-elect learned about committee organization, hiring qualified staff, prioritizing constituent issues and, of course, how to make sense of the Senate rules.
“It’s just done so differently over here compared to the House,” Sen.-elect and outgoing Rep. John Boozman (R-Ark.) said. “But it’s also really a good review as far as various laws, some staffing and various ethics.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.