By Emily Goodin - 01/03/13 10:00 AM EST
There will be over 90 new members of Congress sworn into office on Thursday — a diverse group of men, women, straight, gay, married, single, well-known and unknown.
The freshman class of 2013 includes an animal vet (Republican Ted Yoho of Florida), a reindeer farmer (Republican Kerry Bentivolio of Michigan), a scion of a legendary family (Democrat Joseph Kennedy of Massachusetts), a famous twin (Democrat Joaquin Castro of Texas, whose brother gave the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention), and several unfamiliar faces that will be popping up on C-SPAN in the weeks to come.
In the Senate, after the official swearing-in, Vice President Biden will host ceremonial reenactments for individual senators in the Old Senate Chamber.
Joining the 12 newly elected members of the upper chamber — three Republicans, eight Democrats and one Independent — will be Republican Tim Scott, the South Carolina House member who was appointed to fill the seat of Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who resigned this month.
In the House, there will be a roll call vote at 11 a.m. for new members and the swearing-in at noon, followed by a ceremonial swearing-in in the Rayburn House Office building at 3 p.m., which is where new members will get their photo taken with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
The lower chamber will gain 82 new lawmakers on Thursday: 35 Republicans and 47 Democrats.
This year’s Republican freshman class is much smaller than the legendary class of 2010, which caused many headaches for Boehner.
Republican Luke Messer of Indiana, who was elected president of the incoming freshmen, said he found a way to rein in his colleagues.
“I got a lot of accolades from classmates because at our first meeting I established a rule where everyone could talk but no one could talk more than two minutes, so our first meeting took 18 minutes and everybody was very happy,” he said this past weekend on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers.”
The lower chamber also is losing some of its best-known members after Thursday: Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) are leaving.
But there will be some familiar faces returning to Capitol Hill — nine incoming House members have served in the lower chamber before: Republican Matt Salmon of Arizona, Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona, Democrat Alan Grayson of Florida, Democrat Bill Foster of Illinois, Democrat Rick Nolan of Minnesota, Democrat Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire, Democrat Dan Maffei of New York, Democrat Dina Titus of Nevada and Texas Republican Steve Stockman.
"The advantages of two terms already served are experience, perspective and established relationships. I really can't see any disadvantages!" she told The Hill in a statement.
And some of the incoming freshmen have unfamiliar faces but familiar last names.
Joseph Kennedy of Massachusetts returns the Kennedy name to Congress after a four-year absence and replaces another famous name in the process: Barney Frank.
Democrat Donald Payne Jr. of New Jersey took the seat of his father: the late Rep. Donald Payne (D-N.J.).
And Democrat Dan Kildee of Michigan replaces his uncle, retiring Rep. Dale Kildee (D-Mich.).
Several former congressional aides are joining their former bosses as colleagues: Messer worked for three former members and for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee; Republican Rodney Davis of Illinois worked for longtime Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.); and Republican Andy Barr of Kentucky worked for former Rep. Jim Talent (R-Mo.).
In the Senate, four women were added to the ranks, making a total of 20 in the upper chamber — four Republicans and 16 Democrats — a new record.
Democrat Elizabeth Warren comes in as one of the most well-known names. Her Senate race, in which she defeated incumbent Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), garnered national attention. Ironically, Warren could end up working with Brown anyway. Fellow Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is President Obama’s nominee for secretary of State and Brown is seen as a strong contender for his seat should Kerry be confirmed and Brown decide to run.
Democrat Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin is the first openly gay person elected to the upper chamber, although she has downplayed the historic aspect of her election.
“I didn’t run to make history. I ran to make a difference,” she wrote on her Twitter account on election night.
Six of the newly elected senators are from the House, meaning a majority of the upper chamber will be made up of former members from the lower chamber: Fifty-two of them have previous House service, according to the Senate Historical Office.
Those include Arizona Republican Jeff Flake and Democrats Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, and Baldwin.
Of the nearly 2,000 men and women who have served in the Senate since its inception in 1789, 31 percent — a total of 606 — first served in the House, according to an analysis from the University of Minnesota.
There are some advantages to having previous congressional experience.
“I know where the bathrooms are,” Flake joked to The Hill.
Flake was referring to a common problem for freshmen — the Capital complex is a maze of hallways, staircases and tunnels that rivals Hogwarts. Most incoming members spend their first few weeks simply trying to learn their way around.
Turning serious, Flake noted, “It helps to have some experience, but the Senate is a different body and there’s a lot to learn.”
But he got an early start, crossing through the Capitol’s Statuary Hall and ornate rotunda over the past few weeks to attend the Senate Republican Conference’s weekly lunches.
“It’s better food over there,” Flake said. “I know that.”