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Inaugural Web site
The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies has launched a website to provide up-to-date information about the 2013 Presidential Inauguration and related ceremonies along with historical information and photos of inaugurals past.
Civil War Sesquicentennial
The Great Uprising of the North--An Anniversary Picture--April 12, 1862.
In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, a continuing series of online features explores the Senate's wartime experience.
This Week in Senate History
Image of Senator John Crittenden
January 4, 1859

John Crittenden (KY), the Senate's senior member, rose to speak  in a chamber packed to capacity. "This place, which has known us for so long, is to know us no more forever as a Senate." Vice President John Breckinridge, following his fellow Kentuckian, offered his own farewell. The vice president then led a solemn file of senators out of that room (now known as the Old Senate chamber) and down the hall forty-five paces to the newly constructed chamber that the Senate continues to occupy today.

2013 Session Schedule
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Floor Schedule

Monday, Jan 21, 2013

11:30 a.m.: Convene for the joint session for the Inaugural Ceremonies.

Previous Meeting

Friday, Jan 04, 2013

The Senate convened at 12:30 p.m. and recessed at 2:11 p.m. No record votes were taken.

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When a New Congress Begins

On January 3, 2013, the Senate convenes its first session of the 113th Congress. The proceedings of this first day follow a well established routine. Having presented their credentials to the Senate, newly elected and reelected senators are sworn in by the vice president. The Senate is divided into three classes for election purposes, and every two years one-third of the Senate is elected or reelected. For this reason, only a third of the senators will take the oath on January 3.

Taking the Senate Oath

Because photography is prohibited in the Senate Chamber, following the official oath ceremony new senators join the vice president in the Old Senate Chamber, where a reenactment of the swearing-in ceremony takes place. With this opening ceremony complete, the Senate proceeds with other business, such as the election of the president pro tempore and other officers as well as the assignment of desks in the chamber.

The Opening of the United States Senate

Unlike the House of Representatives, where all members face election every two years, the Senate does not have to reorganize itself following each election, but it will adopt an organizing resolution early in the new Congress to set procedures for operating the Senate during the next two years. Typically, the adoption of this resolution is routine, but there have been occasions when the Senate faced unique challenges, making organization difficult. As January continues, the Senate turns to legislative business. With each new Congress, all pending legislation of the previous Congress expires (with the exception of treaties), so many bills and resolutions are reintroduced. During the first weeks of the new Congress, most freshman senators mark an important milestone in their Senate careers by delivering their maiden speeches.

To learn more about the opening day of a new Congress or other Senate traditions, visit these web pages: Frequently Asked Questions about a New Congress, Guide to Senate Traditions, or Learn about the Senate.

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