WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — Lawmakers are taking their official oath of office on Capitol Hill Sunday in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 117th Congress was gaveled in a noon, despite two of the 435 seats of the House unfilled.
The first is in New York District 22 where the race, at last check, had not been called and less than three dozen votes separate the two candidates.
The second is a vacancy left by 41-year-old Congressman Elect Luke Letlow of Louisiana, who passed away last week from COVID-19.
Several lawmakers, including Rep. Barry Moore (R-AL), wore a Louisiana pin in his remembrance. “We are wearing this in his honor, his family’s honor,” said Moore.
The new Congress faces a difficult 2021, taking an oath of office in the middle of a pandemic and an economic crisis. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) said the first priority for the new Congress is helping Americans navigate the pandemic.
“We need a strategy that I believe the Biden administration will lead on and all of us need to pitch in on,” said Doggett.
But dozens of House Republicans are still battling against a Biden administration and promise to object to electoral ballots from swing states when Congress meets to certify the vote on Wednesday.
“This is about fighting for the Americans voice to be heard when we vote,” added Moore.
Other Republicans are not so sure.
“I respect those who do object and those who don’t,” said Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR). “Everybody has to look at it from their own personal perspective.”
The most important item of business Sunday was choosing the speaker, where the slim Democratic majority re-elected incumbent House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.