- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 13, 2002

A week after the political triumphs of their lives, about 50 freshman members of Congress are starting to learn the ins and outs of life on Capitol Hill.
"Goose bumps appear on all the parts of your body," said Lincoln Davis, Tennessee Democrat, as the future lawmakers yesterday filed into a palatial House office hallway to begin a week of orientation covering how to set up an office, hire staff, keep their families intact and avoid ethical problems.
"I'm not sure I understand the gravity yet," said Mr. Davis, a former state senator.
The freshman class for the new Congress to begin in January, swelled by post-census redistricting that reshuffled many seats, includes at least 18 Democrats and 32 Republicans. Four races are still undecided, with Republicans assured of a total of at least 228 seats, 10 more than needed to control the House.
Many of the new members arrived Monday, to be greeted at the airport by a Marine Corps contingent and given tools of the trade: a cell phone, a laptop and a two-way pager.
In short order they will have to start hiring staffers for district and Washington offices, with annual budgets that average about $1 million.
There will be "heart palpitations from the big task laying before you with very little time to do it," said Rep. Bob Ney, Ohio Republican, chairman of the House Administration Committee. He and Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, are heading the freshman orientation.
Mr. Ney said this year's classes will put more emphasis on security issues in light of September 11 and the anthrax scare on Capitol Hill and will include round-table discussions with spouses on family life in an age when many House members live alone in Washington, visiting their families back home on weekends.
The chairman and top Democrat on the ethics committee will brief the freshmen on "everything they need to know or be scared about" in terms of staying within the House's complex ethics rules, Mr. Ney said.
What they also must quickly become accustomed to is working out of the most cramped and inconvenient offices and failing to get seats on the sought-after Transportation, Appropriations or Ways and Means committees. "I have no illusions that a freshman from Utah can make a difference" immediately, said Republican Rob Bishop.
Rahm Emanuel, a senior adviser to President Clinton who was elected to a Chicago-area seat, said he "felt like a kid in a candy store, it's very exciting."
He also said he is ready for life as a freshman in the minority party. "I have children aged 5, 4 and 2. I've learned about frustration firsthand."
Among other notables in the freshman class are Republican Katherine Harris, the former Florida secretary of state who was a central figure in the contested 2000 presidential election.
Two freshmen are joining siblings already in Congress. California Democrats Linda Sanchez, and Loretta Sanchez, who was re-elected to a fourth term, will become the first sister combination in history, while newcomer Mario Diaz-Balart will represent Florida along with his fellow Republican brother Lincoln, who is entering his sixth term.
Also in Florida, Democrat Kendrick Meek takes over the seat held for 10 years by his mother, Carrie Meek.
Timothy Ryan, Ohio Democrat, and Devin Nunes, California Republican, are the youngest freshmen at age 29, while South Dakota Gov. William J. Janklow, a Republican, is the oldest at 63. Rick Renzi, Arizona Republican, has the most children: 12.

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