Why All Those Photos of Mike Pence Swearing In Newly Elected Senators Aren’t What They Seem


On Thursday, as a brand new yr started and with it a brand new Congress, Vice President Mike Pence swore in the Senate’s newly elected and re-elected members on the Senate flooring. The occasion is often a contented event that victorious candidates share with their households, a capstone to what’s typically a grueling marketing campaign season away from house.

However the celebratory photographs that flow into after the actual fact aren’t the true deal, and there’s a purpose for that: Apart from one official {photograph} annually, pictures has been formally banned within the Senate Chamber because the 1950s.

As a substitute, after Pence officiates the oath of workplace within the Senate chamber, newly inducted Senators can transfer to the Outdated Senate Chamber and do it another time alongside their households. (In the meantime, within the a lot bigger Home of Representatives, a brand new Congress is marked by Members taking the oath of workplace as a group; although that second has been photographed, the Home Speaker might also do particular person reenactments as photo-ops for Members.)

Daniel Holt, an assistant Senate historian, tells TIME that the custom of repeating the oath only for present dates again to as early because the 1930s, when Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Vice President, John Nance Garner, reenacted oaths in his ceremonial workplace for the widow of Huey Lengthy, Rose McConnell Long, who briefly grew to become a Louisiana Senator after her husband died, and for New Jersey Sen. William Smathers and Florida Sen. Claude Pepper within the 1930s.

Within the 1970s, Vice Presidents started reenacting the oaths with extra regularity for the households of newly elected Senators who needed to be nearer to the motion, as civilians are typically not permitted on the Senate flooring and have to observe from the gallery. After the Outdated Senate Chamber reopened for vacationers in 1976, Vice President Walter Mondale moved the reenactments there in 1981, Holt explains.

“From then on it grew to become extra of an ingrained custom,” Holt stated.

The ceremonial reenactments have change into an even bigger cope with the development of pictures. Individuals need keepsakes to recollect particular events by.

“This wasn’t an enormous drawback earlier than the 1950s once you didn’t have high-speed movie and handheld cameras,” Holt says.

In reality, Senators have gotten in hassle for utilizing their telephones to take pictures and movies on the ground lately. On Dec. 20, outgoing Sen. Claire McCaskill was reprimanded for posting a video of the ground whereas the Senate was not in session. “And I’m out,” the caption learn.

United States Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell’s workplace proceeded to file a complaint with the Senate Sergeant at Arms, which enforces the Senate guidelines. McCaskill had damaged Rule IV, which stipulates that “taking of images of any form is prohibited within the Senate Chamber, the Senate Studying Rooms (Marble Room and Foyer), the Senate Cloakrooms, and the Personal Eating Room of the Senate.”

Reenacting the oaths within the Outdated Senate Chamber offers Senators a means round Rule IV to allow them to have treasured moments just like the one shared by Sen. Chris Murphy and his son Rider in 2013, when the 1-year-old made headlines for elevating his hand alongside his father.

Rider Murphy raises his hand identical to his father, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) (L) as he participates in a reenacted swearing-in along with his spouse Catherine Murphy and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden within the Outdated Senate Chamber on the U.S. Capitol January 3, 2013

“I don’t assume Vice President [Joe] Biden anticipated to additionally swear in my son Rider that day,” the Democrat from Connecticut instructed TIME. “Having the ability to share that second with my spouse and youngsters meant the world to me — and it gave us one in all our favourite household photographs.”

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