Before lawmakers get back to the business of arguing about taxes, deficits and other issues as they open a new session of Congress today, there was just a nice moment outside the Capitol.
Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who suffered a stroke last Jan. 21, came to the Capitol for the first time since then. And as C-SPAN cameras watched, he made a very public return — slowly walking up the steps of the Capitol with assistance from Vice President Biden and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va.
By letting the House take up the Senate's fiscal cliff-dodging legislation that raises income tax rates on the wealthiest earners, Speaker John Boehner answered affirmatively a question that had been on many minds: Would he allow an up-or-down floor vote on a bill opposed by most fellow House Republicans?
Until the New Year's Day vote, Boehner had generally operated the House under what was known as the Hastert Rule. Named for former Speaker Dennis Hastert, it required a "majority of the majority" to support legislation before the speaker approved a floor vote.
A 32-year-old Bay Area prosecutor will be sworn in to Congress on Thursday after ousting a 40-year incumbent.
California Democrat Eric Swalwell — who will be the second-youngest member of Congress — capitalized on his opponent's gaffes and used old-fashioned door-knocking and high-tech mobile phone outreach to win votes.
His first challenge in Washington might be getting people to pronounce his name correctly. Even senior members of California's congressional delegation have gotten it wrong, saying "Stallwell" instead of "Swalwell."