Tuesday 6 January 2009

First Day of the 111th Congress

Today, at Noon EST (5pm in the UK), the 111th Congress will come into being. If you want to watch events live go to C-SPAN's website - C-SPAN 1 will show the live feed from the House of Representatives while C-SPAN 2 will show the Senate. (http://www.c-span.org/).

In the House of Representatives there are certain things which must be done. The main stages of the day's events in the chamber include

  1. The Clerk of 110th Congress calls the House to order
  2. The Chaplain of the House offers a prayer
  3. Members repeat the pledge of allegiance
  4. A Roll Call vote is taken - to establish that a quorum exists. Members vote electronically
  5. Certain announcements are made - about delegates; and deaths or resignations of former Members
  6. The Speaker is elected - both parties nominate for this (and other posts), but the majority party - the Democrats in 111th Congress - win the viva voce roll call vote. [A 'viva voce' vote involves each member stating his vote after his or her name is read out]
  7. The newly elected Speaker is sworn in
  8. The Oath of Office is taken collectively by all Members in the Chamber. In the afternoon individual oath taking is repeated for the benefit of photographers.
  9. Each party announces its leaders
  10. Officers of the House are elected (usually each party has agreed its own list, but the majority party prevails)
  11. Resolutions regarding messages between the twn Houses; and also with the Presidency, are passed
  12. Rules of Procedure are adopted

For a fuller account of first day activities - read Mildred Amer's excellent CRS (Congressional Research Service) report "The First Day of a New Congress: A Guide to Proceedings on the House Floor" - http://assets.opencrs.com/rpts/RL30725_20081031.pdf

For membership information visit http://www.gpoaccess.gov/pictorial/111th/newmems.html