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For New Members, the First Day Is Still a Dream

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call
Re-elected Speaker John A. Boehner swears in the 113th Congress on the House floor Thursday.

Biden also provided some comic relief when, while posing for photos with North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and her family, he told Heitkamp’s husband, Darwin Lange, to “spread your legs, you’re going to be frisked.” After the photo, Biden told Lange, “I’m a little too formal, I know.”

Later on in the day, frazzled freshman Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, was picking up M&M’s off the marble floors outside the House chamber to put back in the hands of his 2-year-old son, Henry, who was clearly restless after hours of having to sit still.

“This is the cleanest floor in Washington,” O’Rourke joked, saying his biggest adventure of the day so far was a trip to the snack bar of the Democratic Cloakroom.

Seeing that O’Rourke was struggling to keep Henry and his two other children on their best behavior, a nearby Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., took everyone for a quick ice cream sandwich break. O’Rourke proudly displayed a photo of the side trip.

But amid the excitement and the adrenaline of joining the “people’s house,” the freshmen all exuded a sense of purpose. They suddenly had the titles “congressman” and “congresswoman.”

“I’m ready to get to work” was the refrain of new members including Kerry Bentivolio, R-Mich., and Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio.

Elsewhere, Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas, was walking alone, carrying a leather-bound Bible engraved with his name — a gift from his chief of staff after his election to Congress in November. He explained that he planned to carry it with him whenever he comes to the House floor. It will give him “spiritual strength,” he said.

Jason Dick contributed to this report.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Rep. Tim Walz was accompanied by his grandchildren on the opening day of the 113th Congress. They are actually his children.

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