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Vorderbrueggen headed to the Capitol

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Friday, December 29th, 2006 at 1:06 pm in Congress.

Come Tuesday morning, you’ll find me in the security line at the airport waiting to board a flight to Washington, D.C., where I will have the opportunity to cover the first week of the 110th Congress.

The Contra Costa Times doesn’t customarily send me to Washington but this year, we have a rare event: A new congressman.

Rep.-elect Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, triumphed in November over Richard Pombo, a Republican from Tracy who held the seat for seven terms before losing in a nationwide, anti-GOP sweep.

McNerney’s first week in Congress will be a whirlwind for him and his family. His wife, Mary’ grown children, Michael, Windy and Greg; and several of his siblings — including twin brother John — will be with him to celebrate.

He’ll get the key Wednesday to his Washington, D.C., office at 312 Cannon Building.

On Thursday, he’ll take the oath of office and cast his first vote, which is expected to be on the House rules package. It spells out the House rules of engagement and will include ethics reforms, such as a ban on flying on corporate jets.

But the oath of office is more than just ceremonial event.

It marks McNerney’s official entry into Congress. Until he takes the oath, he can’t take any official actions. That includes seemingly minor but important things such as turning on the phones in his offices and obtaining official e-mail addresses. His core staff isn’t officially on the clock until he utters those words, either, although they’ve been working hard for days to prepare.

After the swearing-in on the floor of the House, McNerney will fly around the Capitol to a series of receptions and an opportunity for photos during a mock swearing-in with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco. (As you might imagine, Pelosi is under heavy demand for photos as the nation’s first woman Speaker of the House and the highest-ranking woman in U.S. government.)

In the evening, he and his family will attend one of the many events held for Pelosi, a concert-fundraiser sponsored by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee at the National Building Museum. The entertainment features Carole King, Wyclef Jean and Mickey Hart.

Watch my blog starting Tuesday for updates on the events in the Capitol.

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