Heard on the Hill

Fist Bumps and Bagels in 40-Degree Weather: The Next Congress Has Arrived

Members-elect take line up for their traditional class photograph as part of New Member Orientation

Members-elect from left, Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., and Chrissy Houlahan, D-Pa., take a selfie after the freshman class photo on the East Front of the Capitol. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Freshly elected members of Congress from warmer climates got their first taste of D.C. winters on Wednesday.

But chilly November temperatures couldn’t derail their first class photo — a ritual in which dozens of newcomers squeeze onto risers as the Capitol looms in the background.

As the new class jostled for position on the House steps, they hugged and shook hands. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took off her coat for the photograph and the 29-year-old New Yorker stood in the front row in a short sleeve dress. Most of the front row was made up of women, including Texas Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones, whose race hasn’t been called yet against Rep. Will Hurd.

[A Father Drops Off His Son for Congress’ Freshman Orientation]

Scaffolding is up on the House steps, but the angle of the photograph avoided it. A House photographer on a ladder yelled, “This is your best shot right here!” and all the members-elect laughed and looked at him.

Spouses and aides huddled next to the media to get a shot as well. When the photograph was done, everyone applauded, some high-fived, and Michigan Democrat Haley Stevens waved at the press.

Members-elect and spouses had to head to a lunch after the photograph. But some clearly hadn’t had time for breakfast.

Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania sat down on the risers and quickly ate a bagel, with cream cheese on the side, while she looked at her phone.

Others took some time to mingle before the next activity.

Vice President Mike Pence’s brother, Indiana Republican Greg Pence, got a fist bump from Tim Burchett of Tennessee. Dan Crenshaw of Texas, who is already “Saturday Night Live” famous, joined their huddle.

The media swarmed Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar, who is one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, and Democrats Abby Finkenauer of Iowa and Colin Allred of Texas took a photograph together with the Capitol in the background.

The new member orientation is a biennial tradition that gives newly elected representatives their first taste of what life will be like on Capitol Hill, from interacting with media to hiring staff. Incoming lawmakers travel from their respective districts to stay in Washington.

Hugs, Luggage and Getting Dropped Off By Dad: New Members Arrive For Orientation

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