Kids steal the show from lawmakers on opening day of 113th Congress

The halls of Congress resembled the first day of school on Thursday as lawmakers began the 113th session of the governing body, most of them joined by their children.

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The main order of the day was getting the members sworn in and settled. The mood throughout the Capitol was lighthearted, with plenty of hugs and shouts of congratulations. The hallways were more crowded than usual, with family members and visitors, and there was a notable increase in security.

It was the members’ day — but it was their kids who stole the show. They hopped around the House floor, ran up and down the hallways and posed for official pictures with their parents and congressional leaders.

Some even took the oath of office with their parents.

It’s common for members to bring their families to watch them take the oath of office (in the House, all lawmakers take the oath, while, in the Senate, only those who won election in 2012 were sworn in).



Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphySenate Dem: Graham-Cassidy is an 'intellectual and moral garbage truck fire' Dems call for action against Cassidy-Graham ObamaCare repeal Murphy fires back at Trump on filibuster MORE (D-Conn.) is sworn in at the Capitol.

Newly elected Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) was holding his youngest son — a 1-year-old with a blond mop of hair — during his ceremonial swearing-in. His son mimicked dad and raised his hand, too, pretending to take the oath.

During the oath-taking in the House, where members are sworn in en masse, two of Rep. Erik Paulsen’s (R-Minn.) four daughters sat in the front row with him and raised their hands. Afterward, they could be seen congratulating each other on being "new members.”

Freshman Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) was spotted feeding his young son, Henry, some M&M's as they stood in the hallway off the House floor following the formal proceedings. Henry, an adorable toddler dressed in a snazzy green tie and blue jacket, won the hearts of lawmakers and staff alike as he ran up and down the hall and then tried to get back into the chamber.

Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillGOP sees fresh opening with Dems’ single payer embrace Senators blast internet subsidy program It is time to make domestic terrorism a federal crime MORE (D-Mo.), whose mother died in the final weeks of the campaign, tweeted that she was wearing her mom’s wedding rings on Thursday. After she was sworn in, McCaskill left the Senate chamber to greet her daughters, who were waiting for her, offering big hugs.

But the prize of the day will probably go to the children of Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), who brought his son and daughter with him.

After House members took the oath jointly on the chamber floor, Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerSpeculation mounts, but Ryan’s job seen as safe Boehner warns Trump: Don't pull out of Korea-US trade deal GOP Rep: Ryan wasting taxpayers dollars by blocking war authorization debate MORE (R-Ohio) held photo-ops with individual members. 

Hanna’s son showed no interest in being photographed, however, and began to show signs of a temper tantrum. Hanna’s wife picked the boy up and carried him off. 

Meanwhile, Hanna’s daughter stayed behind with the Speaker after her dad left, posing happily for photographers. An amused John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerSpeculation mounts, but Ryan’s job seen as safe Boehner warns Trump: Don't pull out of Korea-US trade deal GOP Rep: Ryan wasting taxpayers dollars by blocking war authorization debate MORE stepped aside to leave the limelight to the girl.

The 113th Congress officially began at noon on both sides of the Capitol.



Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Overnight Tech: Equifax hit by earlier undisclosed hack | Facebook takes heat over Russian ads | Alt-right Twitter rival may lose domain Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea MORE speaks to Owen Murphy, 4.

Vice President Biden presided over the Senate after the emotional return of Sen. Mark KirkMark KirkStale, misguided, divisive: minimum wage can't win elections Immigration critics find their champion in Trump Trump's nominee to lead USAID has the right philosophy on international aid MORE (R-Ill.). Kirk, who suffered a stroke in January 2012, came back to the Senate for the first time. He climbed the stairs outside the Capitol with the help of Biden and Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinGOP sees fresh opening with Dems’ single payer embrace Trump steps up courtship of Dems The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (D-W.Va.).

Most members of the upper chamber were on hand to greet Kirk before heading into the chamber to begin the new session.

Biden swore in lawmakers in large groups and then proceeded to the Old Senate Chamber for a ceremonial reenactment with individual senators. At that ceremony, family members were allowed to join the members and get their photograph taken with the vice president.

There were reports aplenty of Biden — known for his playful manner — doing some good-natured flirting with the wives and mothers of lawmakers.

When introduced to a few legislators' mothers, the vice president repeatedly greeted each one with a "Hey, mom!"

And while posing with newly minted conservative Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea GOP state lawmakers meet to plan possible constitutional convention MORE (R-Texas), Biden picked up one of Cruz's daughters, who had started whining. 

"Oh, it's not so bad. I know I'm a Democrat, but it's OK,” he told her.

It was also one of the few times lawmakers, whose pins give them special privileges throughout the Capitol complex, had to wait in line.

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Trump bets base will stick with him on immigration Dems call for action against Cassidy-Graham ObamaCare repeal MORE (D-Mass.) gave a warm hello to fellow Democratic Sens. Tim KaineTimothy Michael KaineWeek ahead: Crunch time for defense bill’s cyber reforms | Equifax under scrutiny Insurer Anthem to cover bare ObamaCare counties in Virginia Senate votes down Paul's bid to revoke war authorizations MORE (Va.) and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampJustice Dept investigating Equifax stock sales: report Dem senator: Trump 'very serious' about infrastructure Trump steps up courtship of Dems MORE (N.D.) while waiting for her turn, shaking hands and offering hugs to the senators and their families. 

On her way to the Senate bathroom, Warren ran into Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate passes 0B defense bill Overnight Health Care: New GOP ObamaCare repeal bill gains momentum Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea MORE (Ky.), to whom she offered another vigorous handshake and an effusive introduction.

Newly elected Sen. Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichLive coverage: Sanders rolls out single-payer bill Where Dems stand on Sanders's single-payer bill Trade agency should listen to Congress on solar case MORE (D-N.M.) had his wife and two children on hand for the ceremonial reenactment. He also brought his own Bible, telling The Hill it was the one that he used for his confirmation into the Lutheran Church.

On the House side, members had a full day of events. It began in the morning, when lawmakers stopped by the Speaker’s gallery — an area off the House floor.

There, House staffers stood behind folding tables with boxes in alphabetical order as members checked in to receive their member pin and voting card.

Lawmakers started gathering in the lower chamber at noon for the long roll-call vote for Speaker. The floor was packed with members and their children — so full that some lawmakers stood in the back because there were no more seats.

As the roll call of the 435 members went on, the packed chamber grew warmer and several of the kids fell asleep.

It was after 2:30 p.m. before the vote was finished and lawmakers were dismissed. Several of children were heard complaining of hunger as they left the floor.

Meanwhile, the hallways outside of the chamber were a logjam of lawmakers as they left the floor. 

Members congratulated each other, took pictures together, gave hugs and began one of their first duties: trying to learn their way around the Capitol, which is a maze of hallways and staircases. Several lawmakers were seen asking staff for directions.

For returning lawmakers, it was business as usual. Some, like Rep. Paul RyanPaul RyanRyan: Graham-Cassidy 'best, last chance' to repeal ObamaCare Ryan: Americans want to see Trump talking with Dem leaders Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea MORE (R-Wis.), were spotted grabbing food in one of the cafeterias while others went back to their offices.

Joining the festivities were several former members, who are allowed floor privileges.

Spotted roaming the halls and on the chamber floors were former Vice President Walter Mondale; former Sens. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and John Glenn (D-Ohio); former Reps. Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.), Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.), Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) and Martin Frost (D-Texas); and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.

Most lawmakers are holding receptions Thursday evening to celebrate their swearing-in and the start of the new Congress.

But Friday, it’s back to business as usual. The House is in session at 10 a.m. and the Senate is back at 12:30 p.m.

— Ramsey Cox, Al Eisele, Alexandra Jaffe, Vicki Needham, Daniel Strauss, Erik Wasson and Elise Viebeck contributed.