You climb on the bus, your stomach churning, a mix of nerves, uncertainty and anxiousness -- first day jitters. A million thoughts race through your head as you pull away; will I like my new classmates and teachers, and where is the cafeteria?And then -- All too soon -- the bus slows and suddenly you're at your stop. This is it; you're walking into the unknown.
But this bus isn't stopping at school. It's stopping at the U.S. Capitol. You're not a young student, given to make mistakes chalked up to youthful bliss. You're an official elected to serve in the U.S. Congress.Monday morning six buses with police escorts arrived on Capitol Hill and unloaded the new kids in town; recently-elected members of Congress fresh off November 2nd wins.
They're not taking their seats in the House chamber yet, but rather starting six days of orientation.
Members will learn how to pass a bill, hire a staff, how to manage a budget, deal with security concerns and how to adhere to ethics rules and regulations.
But their priority is getting started on their new legislative agenda. Even though the current congress is only meeting in a lame-duck session, there was no hiding today's enthusiasm.
"A lot of us come from different regions of the country where we have the same issues that are going on in our state." said South Dakota Republican Kristi Noem. "We want to be true to our constituents back home but recognize the problems we have on a national level. So we need to be able to discuss that and a lot of ideas. Sitting around the table can generate a good solution."
Illinois Republican Adam Kinzinger added, "We have a good group of folks here that are going to be able to stand against special interests, that are going to be able to do the right thing and we're just getting started, so it's going to be an interesting couple of years and you know, ultimately we're going to do the right thing."
The new class of lawmakers will be officially sworn into office on January 5th, 2011.
Until then, there is a week of orientation followed by a drawing. The big prize? Who gets the prime real estate; the best office space on Capitol Hill.
It's sort of like vying for the best desk in class at the start of a new school year.