113th United States Congress convenes

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Friday, January 4, 2013

The United States Congress, consisting of the House of Representatives and Senate, convened at 12:00 PM EST Thursday at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. for the first session of the 113th United States Congress. Newly elected and re-elected members of both the House of Representatives and Senate were sworn-in as both houses debated the rules and procedures to be adhered to for the next two years.

The 113th United States Congress convened at noon EST Thursday in the United States Capitol building (pictured).
Image: Kevin McCoy.

The House of Representatives customarily elected its Speaker for the 113th Congress. Incumbent Speaker Republican John Boehner was re-elected, defeating Democrat Nancy Pelosi by a vote of 220–192. Boehner's re-election as House Speaker ended speculation that the Republican Party would split and nominate another candidate to challenge him for the gavel following internal tumult during the "fiscal cliff" negotiations last month. After Boehner was sworn-in for his second term as Speaker, he proceeded to swear-in all 435 elected and re-elected members of the House en masse.

Members of the United States Senate were sworn-in in groups of four by Vice President and President of the Senate Joe Biden. Among the membership of the U.S. Senate for the 113th Congress are a record-setting 20 female Senators, including newly-elected Democrat Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, the first openly gay member of the U.S. Senate.

Members of the Senate and House of Representatives joined Joe Biden and John Boehner, respectively, after the formal swearing-in ceremony for re-enactment ceremonies in front of photographers.

Republican Mark Kirk, United States Senator from Illinois, also officially returned to his duties after suffering a debilitating stroke last January 21st that forced him to learn how to walk again. Fulfilling a goal he had set for himself after his stroke, Kirk ascended the 45 steps leading up to the Senate wing of the United States Capitol building with assistance from both Joe Biden and fellow Senator Joe Manchin, as several other members of both houses of Congress and well-wishers looked on. He is expected to continue rehabilitation, while convenient housing arrangements have been made.

In the new congress, there are 53 Democrats, 45 Republicans and two independents in the Senate. The House of Representatives now has 234 Republicans and 201 Democrats in its membership. Having convened, the 113th Congress is expected to face issues including the debt ceiling, taxes and the federal budget deficit.

A new congress convenes every two years in January, with the next congress slated to convene in January 2015. The 1st United States Congress convened in 1789.


Some information contained in this article was obtained from television, radio, or live webcast sources. Reporter's notes and the broadcast source details are available at the collaboration page.