In the House, courtesy of the Office of the Majority Leader:
House Meets at... 12:00 p.m. to convene the 111th Congress
Last Vote Predicted... 7:00 p.m.
Quorum Call. There will be a recorded Quorum Call vote at approximately 12:00 p.m. following the Pledge of Allegiance.
Election of the Speaker of the House. This election is held by manual roll call vote, with each Member called individually, in alphabetical order, by the clerk.
Swearing-in of Members. After the Speaker is elected, the Oath of Office is administered to Members and Delegates.
H.Res. 5 – House Rules Package for the 111th Congress (Rep. Slaughter – Subject to a Rule – Begin Consideration)
In the Senate, courtesy of the Office of the Majority Leader:
Swearing in of newly elected and reelected senators.
Following the swearing in, senators are encouraged to remain on the floor to establish a quorum. If a quorum is not present, there would be a roll call vote. If a quorum is established, no vote would be necessary.
That's what's on tap if things go by the books. And speaking of the books, if you missed your "viewer's guides" yesterday, here they are again:
Things to watch today:
The House votes for Speaker. This is a rarity in how it's conducted. They actually call each Representative by name and they shout out their vote for Speaker, sort of like they do voting in the Senate. Only instead of 100 of them, there are 435. Kind of a neat thing, especially if you're a fan of a particular brand new Member of the House, and you get to hear his or her name called for the first time. The choices for Speaker are, of course, Nancy Pelosi for the Democrats and John Boehner for the Republicans. But on occasion, you get a few creative votes. The Members aren't limited in their choices to the recommendations of their parties, nor even to their colleagues in the House, technically. Every once in a while you get a protest vote -- lately it's been a conservative Democrat or two either voting present, or shouting out another name other than Pelosi's, as was Gene Taylor's (D-MS-04) habit up until two years ago. In the past few Congresses, he had voted present, or even for Jack Murtha (D-PA-12). But when the Democrats regained the majority in the 110th Congress, he did dutifully vote for Pelosi along with his fellow Democrats, who actually applauded him while he smiled sheepishly.
The House also adopts its new Rules package today, with some interesting changes. They'll be reforming our old pal, the motion to recommit, eliminating the "promptly" reporting instruction so that the minority can't use it to surreptitiously kill legislation. Also being eliminated, term limits for committee chairs.
There's more good stuff in there, too, some of which I'll cover separately, and some of which you might be able to discover for yourself if you flip through the Rules package (PDF).
Over in the Senate, they don't need to adopt new rules, since the old ones carry over unless they're changed. That's because only 1/3 of the Senate will be "new," whereas everyone in the House is elected and reelected together. The majority and minority leaders are selected by the party organizations, and are recognized on the floor by the presiding officer (usually the Vice President on opening day), but there's no election proceeding on the floor like in the House.
The only fireworks looming for the Senate would be in the case of any attempt to seat Roland Burris (D-IL) or Al Franken (D-MN), neither of which is anticipated. Also unlikely (but possible) are any contentious rules changes. A rules change in the Senate normally requires a 2/3 vote, pretty much guaranteeing they're rare and less than controversial. But the very beginning of a new Congress presents a strange, mystic portal to another world, where rules changes can, in theory, be made by a majority vote. And it's happened before, and can even be used to eliminate the filibuster or lower the threshold for cloture.
But don't look for that to happen this time. (Though it's a fun thought.)