Congress ushers in new and old on Thursday with dozens of eager freshmen determined to change Washington and the harsh reality of another stretch of bitterly divided government.
The 113th Congress will convene at the constitutionally required time of noon for pomp, pageantry and politics as newly elected members of the House and Senate are sworn in and the speaker of the House is chosen. The traditions come against the backdrop of a mean season that closed out an angry election year.
The new Congress still faces the ideological disputes that plagued the dysfunctional 112th Congress, one of the least productive in more than 60 years. Tea partyers within the Republican ranks are insisting on fiscal discipline, while Democrats envision a government with enough resources to help the less fortunate.
The new members are expected to bring a different perspective. For the first time in the House, white males will be the minority in the Democratic Party. 20 women will be sworn in, the most ever; among them is Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, the first openly bisexual member of Congress. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii will also make history as the first Hindu ever elected and one of the first female combat veterans.