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Posted at 9:52 AM ET, 01/ 5/2011

Busy first day ahead for 112th Congress

By Felicia Sonmez

The 112th Congress has a busy first day ahead, including some time-honored traditions as well as some new milestones.

9 a.m.: The day officially kicked off with a closed-door bipartisan prayer service for new members and their families at St. Peter's Catholic Church, which sits a block south of the Capitol and is home to the second Catholic parish established in Washington, D.C. The service dates back to 1995, when then-House Speaker-elect Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) used it to kick off the first day of the 104th Congress.

Also at 9 a.m., the 43 members of the Congressional Black Caucus were scheduled to hold their ceremonial swearing-in at the Capitol Visitor Center. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) will take the gavel as the 22nd chair of the CBC, succeeding outgoing Chair Barbara Lee (D-Calif.). Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) are expected to be in attendance, as is Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), who is slated to be the first Republican to join the caucus since 1997.

Noon: Both the House and the Senate will be called to order, followed by a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance.

The House will then take a quorum call and a leader from each party will make the party's nomination for speaker. Members will then vote for speaker verbally, a process that is expected to take as long as an hour.

After the new speaker is elected, the outgoing speaker, Pelosi, will address the House and present the incoming speaker, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio). Then Boehner follows with a speech of his own.

According to a Republican leadership aide, Boehner's remarks "will focus, in part, on the need for the House to listen to the American people and do their will, changing the way the House has worked in the past under Republicans and Democrats alike and not avoiding the tough choices that need to be made about our nation's future."

After that, the Dean of the House, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), administers the oath of office to the speaker-elect. Four years ago, Pelosi was surrounded by children as she was sworn in as the first female speaker; today's proceedings likely will be more staid.

Following his own swearing-in, Boehner will swear in the members of the 112th Congress on the floor of the House. The oath is the same for the speaker and the members:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."

2:30 p.m.: The actual swearing-in is followed by a long series of ceremonial swearings-in for individual members in the House Rayburn Room. More than 250 members are expected for the ceremonial swearing-ins, which essentially serve as a personal photo op for members, their families and Boehner. The process is slated to start at 2:30 p.m. and could last until 6 p.m. or later.

While Boehner is conducting the ceremonial swearings-in, members of the House will take up consideration of the new rules package on the House floor and attend to other opening-day business such as the election of the chamber's administrative officers and the announcement of party leaders. The last votes are expected to come before 5 p.m.

Boehner is slated to round out his evening at an event at the Library of Congress.

On the Senate side, Vice President Biden will kick off the afternoon by announcing the receipt of the election credentials of senators who were elected in November. Then comes the swearing in of the senators who were newly-elected (or re-elected); the oath of office is the same as in the House, but is conducted in small groups of senators instead of en masse.

At around 1 p.m.: Biden heads over to the Old Senate Chamber for the member-by-member ceremonial swearings-in, which are expected to last until 2:30 p.m.

By Felicia Sonmez  | January 5, 2011; 9:52 AM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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Comments

When does the reading of the Constitution happen in the House?

Posted by: pcarey12 | January 5, 2011 11:34 AM | Report abuse

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