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Freshman orientation

From NBC's Mike Viqueira
Two lessons that House authorities have included to the newest members: how to cover your rear end (ethically), and how to duck and cover.

Newly elected members of the House, some wide-eyed in awe of the their surroundings, are here on Capitol Hill today for freshman orientation. The morning portion of the program was devoted to advice on how to run an office and an organization within the ethical boundaries of the House. On the way into the closed-door confab, congresspersons-elect were handed a pamphlet from the Hill's Office of Emergency planning that featured instructions on how to cover your head with a bio-hazard mask in the event of attack, replete with photographs of smiling models with the plastic sheaths over their faces. "It's fine, especially if I were having a bad hair day," said member-elect Nancy Boyda (D-Kansas).

Zack Space (D-Ohio), who won the seat vacated by Bob Ney (R), pronounced himself "overwhelmed" by the Capitol and his new place therein. The one question that reporters had for the new Democratic members-to-be, fresh off their own grueling campaigns, was about their preference in the House majority leader race. An informal poll of about six of them did not find one vote for John Murtha, who is gunning for that post. Opponent Steny Hoyer apparently laid a lot of groundwork in visiting these races during the campaign.

Also in attendance were at least three people who aren't sure yet if they are members. One is Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), who at last count was up by about five dozen votes over incumbent Rob Simmons (R). The others are Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) and Christine Jennings (D-Fla.), who areĀ locked in a race being recountedĀ and are said by staff to be here today.