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A New Congress

ROLL CALL Lawmakers stand to be counted in the House chamber on opening day of the U.S. Congress. JABIN BOTSFORD—THE WASHINGTON POST/GETTY IMAGES

The 118th United States Congress opened on January 3. Eighty-two new lawmakers were scheduled to be sworn in: 75 in the House of Representatives and seven in the Senate. These were the winners in November’s midterm elections. This year, the Republican party won a majority in the House. Democrats kept control of the Senate.

The number of women in Congress has continued to grow. This Congress has 149 of them, making up 28% of the lawmaking body, the most ever. Fifty-eight are women of color, another record.

The first task for each party was to swear in its leaders. House Democrats had elected Hakeem Jeffries, of New York, as theirs, making him the first Black party leader in Congress. At press time, Republicans had not agreed on a leader. Without a Speaker of the House, the chamber can’t swear in its new members, nor can it begin the work of governing.

Chuck Schumer returned as majority leader of the Senate Democrats, and Republican Mitch McConnell returned as minority leader. Vice President Kamala Harris administered the oath of office to senators. “You all belong,” she said. “That’s the beauty of our democracy.”

Stop and Think! What does “at press time” mean? Why is this phrase used in the story? What does it tell us about the news?