-- More than 60 newly-elected members of the House and Senate have arrived on Capitol Hill, kicking off a week-long freshman orientation where congressional newbies are learning about everything from how to hire staff to where to find the bathroom.
“I need to find out where the cafeteria is and where the men's room is and then I'm fine. I'm good to go,” Rep.-elect Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, laughed.
To some, DC’s notorious traffic congestion was a rude awakening.
“My first impression is that you all need to do something about your transportation,” Rep.-elect Mike Bishop, R-Michigan, joked. “There's too many cars on the road.”
Some arrived in town bright-eyed and bushy-tailed while others were jet-lagged from a cross-country trip.
“Well I came from California, so I have to deal with that time change,” Rep.-elect Mimi Walters, R-Calif., admitted. “It's a little bit difficult to wake up in the morning when you first get to the East Coast, but I'm very excited to be here.”
Thursday the new class of lawmakers will receive a briefing about office set up, including the Member’s Representation Allowance, a stipend to run their office. The orientation concludes next Wednesday with an office lottery.
Rep.-elect Cresent Hardy, who defeated freshman Democrat Rep. Steven Horsford in Nevada’s 4th district, welcomed the crash course on Congress.
“This is politics. It's different than anything in my life,” Hardy told reporters as he arrived to check into his hotel Wednesday. “This is an education process, which I'm glad they have. I think it's very important to be able to understand what's going on before the session starts so you hit the ground running.”
On Thursday, the new GOP members will also vote in their party’s leadership election. House Speaker John Boehner is expected to win another two-year term holding the speaker’s gavel.
“I'm not here to mix that up. I'm here to support the cause,” Bishop said. “I think they're headed in the right direction. I love the messaging that's coming out of the leader's office right now. I think it's fantastic.”
The new session of Congress will officially begin on Jan. 3, 2015.