New members prep for lawmaker orientation

More than 90 soon-to-be members of the House are scheduled to arrive in Washington to begin freshman orientation Sunday, Nov. 14.


The first-term lawmakers are scheduled to stay at the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel, about eight blocks from the Capitol, where they will be given their new lifeline to all things congressional: their official House BlackBerrys.

Then, a possible dinner with the House minority and majority leaders is scheduled for Sunday evening at one of the Smithsonian’s museums, according to congressional sources.

And on Monday, the actual orientation begins. The members-elect will get lessons in congressional ethics, office and Capitol security, as well as details on their office furnishings and equipment.  

On Tuesday morning, the class photo for the new members of the 112th Congress is scheduled. Also on Tuesday, House Parliamentarian John Sullivan is expected to go over House rules and procedures with the members-elect as he shows them around the House floor and gets them acquainted with the layout of the lower chamber’s voting system.

They will meet with their respective parties' caucus and conference on Tuesday, and begin to learn the tunnel system that runs underneath the Capitol and the House office buildings. New members will also start the daunting task of learning the layout of the nascent Capitol Visitor Center (CVC), which has taken many veteran members the nearly two years it has been open to learn.

On Wednesday and Thursday, members-elect will have time to schedule further meetings with their caucus and conference. On Wednesday evening, returning members of the House and their spouses have been invited to join the members-elect for snacks at the Botanic Garden.

On Friday, the soon-to-be members will try their luck at getting the best digs on Capitol Hill as they partake in the all-day office lottery, which gives them their first choice of available offices in any of the three House buildings based on the random number they pick.  
 
The week’s schedule is in flux, however, because the House will be in a lame-duck session that week and all business will defer to the chamber’s schedule. The members-elect are expected to begin moving into their new offices in mid-December, by which time the defeated and retired members will be moved out and the office of the chief administrative officer will have cleaned and refurbished the offices.