- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 14, 2006

More than 50 newly elected House members began their orientation on Capitol Hill yesterday, listening to lectures about setting up their offices, staying within ethical guidelines, following emergency procedures and handling the press.

A similar orientation began for the 10 new senators.

“It’s a very gratifying time,” said Rep.-elect Tim Walz. The Minnesota Democrat is a high school geography teacher.

His Republican colleague from Minnesota, Rep.-elect Michele Bachmann, marveled at the domed ceiling in the Cannon House Office Building and visited the National Archives on Sunday with her husband.

“That was such a thrill for us,” she said.

Attending the orientation are 41 Democrats and 13 Republicans. Both the Republican and Democratic candidates in one Florida race are participating because the results of the election are not final.

“From both parties, we all sort of have the same feeling: ‘Wow. Is this really happening?’ ” said Michael Arcuri, New York Democrat.

A lottery Friday will determine office assignments.

The two major parties will be hosting receptions for the new House and Senate members throughout the week. President Bush hosted a White House reception last night.

Meanwhile, the new members will continue to get acquainted, find their way through the maze of hallways and prepare for the tasks ahead.

Rep.-elect Joe Donnelly, an Indiana Democrat who beat the Republican incumbent, Rep. Chris Chocola, said he was mostly concerned about getting his office operating “as quickly as possible, so we can start working for the people back home.”

Two House freshmen — Democrat Albio Sires of New Jersey and Republican Shelley Sekula-Gibbs of Texas — were sworn into office last night to fill seats vacated before last week’s election.

Mrs. Sekula-Gibbs’ tenure will be brief. She won a special election to fill the Texas seat of former Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who resigned earlier this year. She lost a write-in campaign in the general election to Democrat Nick Lampson, who will take over the seat in January.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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