Freshman class of 116th Congress invades Washington

Incoming class is younger, browner and more female

Congress welcomes new members as races still undecided

(RNN) – There are plenty of shiny new faces on Capitol Hill this week as congressional orientation begins in Washington just a week after midterm elections.

Although the 116th Congress won’t convene until Jan. 3, the freshman class is learning how to govern in the nation’s capital and how to navigate the halls of power.

There will be lots of meals, tours and briefings.

And, of course, there’s a class photo. Incoming House members posed in front of the Capitol Wednesday morning.

The picture shows a freshman class that’s more diverse. It’s younger, browner and more female.

In all, more than 110 women have been elected to the House. Its members include 40 women of color, the first Muslim women, the first Native American women and the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, 29-year-old Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY.

When the House opens for business in the new year, a new party will hold power.

Although some seats are still up for grabs, Democrats are projected to finish with about 234 seats to 201 for the Republicans.

On the Republican side, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California won his bid to become the House minority leader Wednesday. Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, formerly the House majority whip, became the House minority whip for the new Congress. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, will be the new House GOP conference chair, the third-ranking position among Republicans in the House.

House Democrats won’t pick their leaders until later this month.

On the other side of the Hill, the Senate will stay in the hands of the GOP.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will keep his position, as will Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY.

McConnell welcomed five incoming Republican senators and a sixth who might be -- Josh Hawley, Marsha Blackburn, Kevin Cramer, Mike Braun, Mitt Romney and Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

New Republican senators visit with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Capitol Hill. Florida Gov. Rick Scott was also there, although the election for his seat is under recount.
New Republican senators visit with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Capitol Hill. Florida Gov. Rick Scott was also there, although the election for his seat is under recount. (Source: CNN)

Scott was there as the senator-elect from Florida, even though his lead over Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson is slim and a recount is underway.

"I've been through a few of these over the years,” McConnell said. “We're here … to welcome our six new Republican senators that allowed us to continue our majority.”

With the Democrats holding a narrow majority in the House and the same true for Republicans in the Senate, the 116th Congress will have to find its way in leading an America that still remains deeply divided after Election Day.

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