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Word on the Hill: And They’re Off

115th Congress is underway

An aide walks on the fourth floor of the Russell Senate Office Building on the first day of the 115th Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
An aide walks on the fourth floor of the Russell Senate Office Building on the first day of the 115th Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It was the last Senate swearing-in for Joseph R. Biden Jr., and by now you’ve seen many photos and videos of the famously friendly vice president conducting the day. 

Word on the Hill’s favorite is a moment at the mock swearing-in in the old Senate chamber when Biden went in for a full kiss on the lips with Barbara Grassley, Iowa Republican Charles E. Grassley’s wife.

The reporter who tweeted the image at first incorrectly said it was the senator’s mother.

Todd Young staffs up

Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., announced key staff appointments in his new Senate office. John Connell, who was Young’s chief of staff in the House for six years, will fill the same role in the Senate. Adam Hechavarria, onetime legislative director for former Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., takes over the same position in Young’s office. Cassie Smedlie is his communications director. She previously worked for Rep. Sean P. Duffy, R-Wis.

Joe Wilson putting it all on the table

Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., barnstormed across his district between Christmas and New Year’s to share his 2017 legislative agenda. He made about five stops in a day and highlighted his travels in a YouTube video.

Staffer shuffle

Rachel McCleery, who worked at the Treasury Department, is returning to the Hill to work for Senate Democrats as chief communications adviser for tax, oversight and investigations on the Finance Committee.


“Man, welcome back.”

— House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., after a reporter suggested he and Speaker Paul D. Ryan are weak leaders for not being able to convince the conference to vote down the Office of Congressional Ethics amendment they opposed.

“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.”

— Biden while greeting Sen. Patrick J. Leahy’s, D-Vt., brother-in-law, a priest, for the mock swearing-in in the old Senate chamber.

“I did the same thing 38 years ago when she was 12 years old.”

— Former Vice President Dick Cheney on the swearing-in of his daughter, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., after the ceremony.

What’s going on?

Have any tips, announcements or Hill happenings? Send them to AlexGangitano@cqrollcall.comLindsey McPherson, Niels Lesniewski and Bridget Bowman contributed to this report.

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