A maiden speech for four freshmen

A maiden speech for four freshmen 

Posted: 10:47 pm Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

By Jamie Dupree

For those outside of the Congress, there probably isn’t much difference in how they regard the U.S. House and Senate, but inside the halls of the Capitol, they are two very different animals, with much different ways for the lawmakers who serve there.

The start of a new session of Congress means learning new faces, and new members learning the ropes. Some jump in with both feet and seem like they’ve been there for years – others wait on the sidelines to get a flavor of what’s ahead.

For example, it was noted earlier this week that Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) waited 17 months before giving his first floor speech in the Senate – that “maiden” speech used to be a big deal for new Senators, but now some hardly wait but a few days before taking the floor for the first time (Sen. Steve Daines of Montana only waited two days this year.)

In the House on Tuesday, lawmakers were starting work on a GOP plan to block the implementation of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration – a very big issue for Republicans.

And that spurred some new members from Georgia to jump into debate together.

The above photo of Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) speaking is notable because of who is sitting behind him – all four of the newly elected GOP lawmakers from his home state.

In the green tie is Rep. Buddy Carter, above Graves is Rep. Barry Loudermilk, and in the striped tie is Rep. Rick Allen, all of them Republicans from Georgia.

Not in the picture is Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia – he was right behind Graves as his fellow Republican spoke on the floor.

Carter, Allen, Loudermilk and Hice had decided in recent days they wanted to get involved in debate on immigration together, since it was such a big issue in their home districts.

They talked to Graves, who must seem like a veteran to them, even if he’s only been here in Congress since mid-2010.

Graves told me after his floor speech that he had helped his four new colleagues figure out some of the basics – how to phrase their first big floor speech, what to say, and also what not to say.

Then Graves went to the Rules Committee helped arrange 90 seconds of time for each of them during the debate on the rule for the bill, so they could speak one after the other on the Republican side.

To the average viewer, it wasn’t much of a scene.

But to these four freshmen lawmakers, it was a moment they’ll certainly remember, their first big speech on the floor of the U.S. House – and one they all gave together.