‘Congress 101’ underway for class of incoming U.S. representatives, senators
WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The incoming class of freshmen lawmakers started their congressional crash course in mid-November.
Orientation will help the incoming freshmen for the 117th Congress understand the basics of operating their office and prepare them for what to expect day-to-day. The first round of the new member orientation will run through Nov. 21, and a second will follow after Thanksgiving.
The Gray Television Washington News Bureau team is catching up with the new members as they arrive in D.C. and throughout the orientation process.
Rep.-elect Yvette Herrell (R-TX) flipped New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District seat on November 3, beating Xochital Torres Small (D-NM). Herrell is part of a record number of Republican women entering Congress in January. She said she is excited to get to work with members of the Texas delegation, including Rep. Jody Arrington (R-TX) and Reps.-elect August Pfluger (R-TX) and Ronny Jackson (R-TX). She discusses her plans to work with Texas lawmakers below.
Rep.-elect Pat Fallon (R-TX) will be filling the empty seat left by Rep. John Ratcliffe, who left Congress in May to be the next Director of National Intelligence. Fallon will be representing Texas’ 4th Congressional District in northeast Texas. Fallon said the information in the New Member Orientation is like “drinking from a fire hose,” but said people have been “incredibly helpful during the process. We asked Fallon how he feels about entering Congress, with the potential for the Democrats to control the Senate in January.
Rep.-elect Barry Moore (R-AL), a veteran and former Alabama state lawmaker, is taking over the office from Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) who did not seek reelection. Moore says he has his sights set on working on small business, military, and agriculture issues in Washington. He touts himself as one of the most conservative lawmakers in his state, but he will enter Capitol Hill in the minority.
Rep.-elect August Pfluger (R-TX), a former F-22 fighter pilot, will be replacing retiring Rep. Mike Conaway. Pfluger said he is enjoying orientation and getting to know his colleagues who he’ll be serving with in Congress for the next two years. Pfluger, a former White House national security advisor, says he’s ready to help his constituents, especially oilfield workers struggling economically because of the pandemic.
Rep.-elect Kai Kahele (D-HI) will begin his freshman term in January, taking over for outgoing Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) who did not seek reelection. Kahele, like Gabbard, has a military background and plans on bringing that expertise to Capitol Hill. Kahele says on a divided Capitol Hill, he thinks military issues can be a unifying force. As a pilot, he is also eyeing work on transportation and infrastructure.
Rep.-elect Tony Gonzales (R-TX) will be replacing Rep. Will Hurd in the 23rd District in Texas. The district is located in southwest Texas, bordering Mexico. Gonzales said he is excited to get started in the nation’s capital. He said he is in the process of finding the best staff for his office who reflect his values, and who will work to give his constituents an immediate response to their issues.
Sen.-elect Bill Hagerty (R-TN) is stepping in to replace longtime Tennessee public servant Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) who did not seek reelection. Hagerty says he is entering his freshman term with an eye on the economy as the coronavirus pandemic continues to cripple American business.
Rep.-elect Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) will inherit the title of youngest member of Congress when he takes the oath of office this January. The 25-year-old just meets the legal age requirement for the office and will be the youngest to serve in the House in modern history. He takes over the seat vacated when President Donald Trump tapped former Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) to be his chief of staff.
Rep.-elect Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) is the first woman to represent Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. She is a defender of Americans' right to bear arms. She said she is working to develop a “tremendous team" that can help her constituents on agricultural issues and energy needs.
New senators were also in the nation’s capital for orientation.
Sen.-elect Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) is returning to D.C. after representing Wyoming in the U.S. House from 2009 to 2017. She said in an interview Thursday she and her team have a temporary office in the basement of one of the Senate office buildings while they wait for an office to open up. Lummis said she and other senators-elect are participating in training throughout the week on topics like ethics and sexual harassment.
Sen.-elect Ben Ray Luján is currently a House lawmaker representing the 3rd Congressional District in New Mexico. Lujan said his top priority is helping his constituents with coronavirus relief, especially as cases continue to rise across the country. He said he also wants to help New Mexico farmers and ranchers who are struggling with drought conditions. Lujan was in D.C. for training with other Sens.-elect.
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