Vice President Joe Biden swore in new members of the Senate Thursday. Among them is Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer.
Fischer was escorted by Nebraska’s Senior senator, Mike Johanns, and former Nebraska Senator David Karnes. The ceremony marked the official commencement of Fischer’s six-year term, as well as the start of the 113th Congress.
Senator Fischer, a lifelong Nebraskan and former two-term state senator, was joined for the swearing-in ceremony by her husband Bruce, family, and friends. Upon conclusion of the ceremony, Senator Fischer released the following statement:
“Today, I placed my hand on the Bible and swore to ‘support and defend’ the Constitution – a sacred charge I take with great humility. I am committed to working with my colleagues – Republicans and Democrats – to restore America’s fidelity to her constitutional principles. This requires policies that limit the size of government, revitalize our ailing economy, and respect the liberties and hard-earned money of American taxpayers. The road ahead requires tough choices, and I will cast my votes solely on the merits of policies and their impact on Nebraskans and the nation.
“I look forward to serving all Nebraskans and encourage them to remain engaged in the democratic process beyond just participating in elections. A healthy democracy requires an ongoing conversation between lawmakers and constituents. I will actively reach out to citizens across Nebraska as we seek to shape public policy. In turn, I hope that constituents will contact me directly through phone calls, letters, and e-mails. Their wisdom comes from years spent running businesses, maintaining farms and ranches, and raising families – not time in Washington. Together, we can bring a strong dose of Nebraska common sense to Washington, D.C.
“I am thankful for this opportunity, I am honored by the trust placed in me, and I am proud to represent the interests of all Nebraskans.”
Additionally, Senator Fischer announced her committee assignments for the 113th Congress:
Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Environment and Public Works
The House also opened with dozens of new lawmakers ready to work. Former Congressman Jim Nussle says the first order of business is the most basic.
"Certainly the first challenge for any new member of Congress is just finding their way around, where's my new office, where's my new committee, where's my new office, where's the bathroom," said Nussel.
The new congress is one of the most diverse ever elected - including a record number of women. But new lawmakers are facing the same old fights.
In the coming months legislators will debate spending cuts, the debt limit and gun control.
The 113th Congress starts work after one of the least productive terms in history. The last group passed just 151 bills, the fewest in 65 years.
That left Congress with an approval rating of 10 percent last year, lower than past approval ratings for the IRS, lawyers and even Paris Hilton.
Jeff Flake is starting his first day in the Senate after serving six terms in the House. The new Senator from Arizona believes the fiscal cliff fight was a preview of things to come.
"This will not be the last high wire act and something that we do right before a deadline. We can't seem to do things in advance here," said Flake.
But Senator Mark Kirk showed new members that challenges can be overcome. The Illinois lawmaker walked up the capitol steps after spending nearly a year rehabbing from a stroke.
The 113th Congress includes 13 new Senators and 82 new House members.