Old traditions mark the opening of the 113th Congress in Washington D.C.

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Courtesy Photo
In the 113th Congress, Tulsi Gabbard was sworn in as the first Samoan (and Hindu) to serve as a voting member of Congress.

Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC), an old friend from my days on the House Leadership Staff invited me to his office where he presented me with an American Flag lapel pin made of red, white and blue stones. Congressman Wilson, who chairs the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel, has Fort Jackson in his district and has met many soldiers from American Samoa and other Pacific Islands stationed there. I thanked him for his offer to help any time our people have military issues and I promised we would hold a gathering with him one day soon at Fort Jackson.

My final stop was at the office of freshman Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO) who now represents the second District of Missouri. Ann and I are long standing friends from the days she served on the RNC from Missouri and later as the RNC co-chairman before President Bush appointed her ambassador to Luxembourg. She was an energetic, charismatic, forward thinking go getter on the RNC and she will not disappoint her constituents back home. No surprise to me, she was elected freshman class representative to the House Republican Leadership.

While the day began with parties--interrupted by the formal mass swearing in of Members, election of officers, adoption of Rules and other procedural business, some of which date back to the founded of the Republic--it ended with more parties and the traditional photo reenactment of the swearing in with the Speaker that is offered to all Members regardless of party affiliation.

These photo sessions move very fast because, as you can imagine, if every one of the 441 House members (including the six delegates) took as little as one minute, it would consume seven-and-a-half hours of the Speaker’s time. For many of the House members, particularly those in the minority, this may be their only opportunity to chat briefly with the Speaker during their entire term.

The new Congress will begin in earnest next week.

(Previously published in the Samoa News.)