Politics & Policy

What the First Day of Being a Senator Is Like

Ben Sasse was sworn in as Nebraska’s newest senator Tuesday.  The ceremonial event is the culmination of weeks of moving, preparation, and planning that followed his landslide victory last November.

To your average C-SPAN viewer, the day looked like this: 

But there’s a lot more that goes into your first day as a Senator than Biden, a Bible, and a fancy room. 

Ben’s first email to his staff was at 4 a.m. Tuesday. It was about coffee. 

6:45 a.m. Sasse arrives at Fox’s studios to do a live hit for Fox and Friends.

Even though it’s really early and freezing, Sasse keeps cracking jokes. 

“Can you believe I still use one of these things?” he says about his BlackBerry.  

He gets hair and makeup done and is walked into an empty studio . . .

. . . where he keeps drinking his coffee. 

7:15 a.m. Sasse talks new Congress.

7:20 a.m. Makeup off

7:25 a.m. After some major troubles with the revolving door, Sasse exits Fox.

And waits for his car. 

It is actually his family car.  It includes a child seat. 

The car ride back to the Capitol was eventful. 

Sasse had to get out in the middle of an intersection to close the trunk and no one was quite sure where or how to park.

7:30 a.m. We walk the halls of a very empty Capitol.

Down into the unceremonious, concrete sub-basement. 

Past storage, electrical equipment, and boxes . . .

. . . lies the temporary office of Senator Ben Sasse. 

It takes a very long time in the Senate to move offices.  New senators have to work out of temporary spaces like this for months until their new offices are ready. 

The office is windowless and tiny. 

The only really interesting object in the office is a gigantic rubber-band ball. 

Which Sasse promptly dribbles. 

And bounces against the walls. 

8 a.m. Sasse does three radio interviews.

Most of the time while on a balance board. 

While Sasse is in his office, his staffers frantically sort through tickets for the afternoon’s swearing-in ceremony. 

10 a.m. Sasse runs back to his apartment on Capitol Hill to round up his family.  

His family, which includes wife Melissa, daughters Alexandria and Elizabeth, and son Breck, will live part-time in a 600-square-foot studio apartment in D.C. “It’s tight, but there’s enough room to home school the kids in here,” says Sasse. 

10:15 a.m. His son Breck really does not want his hair combed.

It takes the help of both Sasse’s daughters to accomplish the task. 

Breck is eventually appeased by a model of the Sasse campaign bus and a camo sippy cup. 

10:30 a.m. The Sasse family trudges a half-mile through the snow to the Capitol. 

On the way, Sasse does another interview. 

Once inside, the Sasses brush all the snow off their children . . .

 

. . . walk them through security screeners . . .

. . . and to a reception in their honor. 

10:45 a.m. The Sasse Reception.

Includes a cake. 

The family hobnobs while a reception line forms around the room to meet Sasse. 

Other senators show up to wish the new guy well.

11:30 a.m. The family heads into the Senate gallery to watch the official swearing-in ceremony

Here, Biden swears in all new and reelected senators in front of their colleagues. 

1 p.m. Sasse does three more TV hits. 

2:30 p.m. The Sasse family is summoned to the Old Senate Chamber to meet Biden for the ceremonial swearing-in

There is a very backlogged line of other senators and their families waiting to get in to see Biden. So the Sasses wait. 

A woman with a clipboard says, “Sasse, you’re up.” 

Walking into the chamber looks like this. 

3:01 p.m. Senator Sasse.

The rest of the afternoon is non-stop caucus meetings for Sasse. 

So his family just sort of waits around. 

5 p.m. The Sasse family heads back to their reception room . . .

. . . and the kids take naps. 

5:40 p.m. Sasse finishes his afternoon meetings and meets back up with his family.

And they trudge back to their apartment in the snow.  Sasse will take another strategy meeting that night after tucking his family into bed. 

And that is the story of Ben Sasse’s first day as a senator. 

Fin. 

— Benny Johnson is digital director at National Review.

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