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The CDC guides the 117th Congress through swearing-in day

Social distancing and masks present in both chambers as lawmakers take the oath of office
Published: Jan. 3, 2021 at 2:49 PM CST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - It is swearing-in day for the 117th Congress. Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate are taking the oath of office Sunday kicking off a new-look for both chambers on Capitol Hill. It was a swearing-in day unlike any other. As the pandemic continues, the ceremonies took on a new look this year.

“It’s unfortunate,” said freshman Rep. Kai Kahele (D-HI).

Kahele begins his freshman term with just one family member in attendance for his big day, a new rule because of COVID-19 guidelines. He considers himself lucky as returning members could not bring any family for the ceremonies. Almost all House Members took part in the CDC guideline-driven festivities Sunday. Kahele says the backdrop of a worsening pandemic makes the start to his Congressional career difficult.

“For a new freshman member that is standing up his office for the first time, bringing in staff for the first time who have never worked together before, putting them right into a telework situation...it’s going to be challenging,” said Kahele.

Senator Bill Cassidy’s (R-LA) office is already set up as he takes his oath for the second time after winning a reelection battle. He says the limited ceremony in the Senate is smart.

“Frankly members of the Senate are typically a little bit older. We’re at higher risk of COVID complications if we get infected. So…it’s just kind of wisdom but being applied to a tradition,” said Cassidy.

Cassidy’s swearing-in comes as power in the Senate hangs in the balance. Voters in Georgia still have to choose their two senators in runoff elections later this week. Cassidy says that election could determine how well the parties work together.

“I think we will have the opportunity to have both sides listened to and to find those solutions that work better because both sides are listened to,” said Cassidy.

In addition to being sworn-in Sunday House members also voted for Speaker Nancy Pelosi to stay in her role. On Wednesday lawmakers will vote to certify the general election results.

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