As the 115th Congress got underway on Tuesday, there was a very familiar vibe in the hallways of the U.S. Capitol, part of it like the optimism you might feel on Opening Day of the baseball season, combined with a dose of the first day of school for your kids, and a holiday gathering with your relatives.
Yes, it’s about politics – but it’s also about family.
Around almost every corner of the Capitol and the House and Senate office buildings, there were little kids running all over the place, lawmakers and grandparents holding babies, proud parents celebrating the success of their own children, and a general feeling of excitement as the new Congress got underway.
Throughout the roll call vote for Speaker of the House, you could hear the squealing of a small child, as it wasn’t hard to find a lawmaker paying more attention to the movements of a kid than any political issues.
“Get over against the wall,” Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) said with the firm tone of a parent to a somewhat mischievous young boy who had escaped the clutches of his relatives, while navigating their way through the tunnels to the Capitol.
And there were many more family type moments on this first day of the 115th Congress:
As I threaded my way past strollers and more in the basement tunnels going to and from the Capitol, there were also some familiar faces who were on hand.
Among them, former Vice President Dick Cheney – once a Congressman from Wyoming, and later Defense Secretary – he was here to see his daughter Lynne sworn in to the U.S. House.
No more than a minute later in the same basement tunnel, there was ex-Rep. Leon Panetta – who also served as Defense Secretary, and then CIA Director – Panetta was there with his son, Jimmy, who is now a member of the U.S. House.
Yes, there are a lot of strong beliefs on both sides when it comes to the right course for the United States of America – but on this first day of a new Congress, there was also time to step back and realize that there is a lot more at work here as well – like this note to Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) from his granddaughter.