4 unusual ways this Congress has made history

After just 10 months, the 118th Congress has made history − for a variety of reasons.

There were significant firsts, such as House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries becoming the first Black lawmaker to lead a party in Congress. And Democratic Rep. Jennifer McClellan also broke barriers as the first Black woman to represent Virginia in Congress.

However, the upper and lower chambers together have also sparked a host of more offbeat headlines.

From the ongoing saga over electing and removing the speaker of the House, to a senator allegedly stuffing money in his monogrammed jackets, this Congress has had no shortage of memorable moments while not even halfway through its term.

Here’s a look at some of the standouts.

Kevin McCarthy takes 15 votes to be elected speaker, is ousted in one

A hold-out faction among House Republicans stalled the vote for House speaker for four days − and 15 rounds of voting − in January.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., managed to eventually accrue enough support to win the gavel. To placate some of those hardline lawmakers, including several members of the House Freedom Caucus, McCarthy made concessions, including a House rule that would allow any one member to call for vote to remove him as speaker.

His concession came back to bite ten months later.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., brought a motion against McCarthy days after the then-speaker worked with Democrats to dodge a looming government shutdown hours before lawmakers’ deadline.

Gaetz’s motion passed with the support of eight Republicans and 208 Democrats. McCarthy is the first speaker in U.S. history to be removed.

A star volleyball player? George Santos indicted for fraud

Long Island’s Republican Rep. George Santos made history in the 2022 midterms, winning the first congressional race between two openly gay candidates.

This accomplishment was quickly overshadowed, though, by the barrage of falsehoods and exaggerations that came to light about his personal and professional life.

The embattled congressman’s unprecedented list of lies include falsely attributing his mother’s death to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks; misrepresenting himself as a college volleyball star and alleging that he lost four employees in the Pulse nightclub shooting.

Santos now faces a 23-count indictment accusing him of stealing campaign donor identities and using their credit cards to pad his pockets in unauthorized charges.

Who wore it best: Senate spars over official dress code

A quiet rule change last month garnered a swift and loud backlash, after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., first changed Senate rules to allow for casual dress in the chamber.

Much of the ensuing criticism was directed at Sen. John Fetterman, given the Pennsylvania Democrat’s signature wardrobe of hoodies and basketball shorts.

A week later, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution to codify a formal dress code for lawmakers, an effort led by Senators Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Mitt Romney, R-Utah.

“As senators, we should demonstrate a high level of reverence for the institution in which we serve — and our attire is one of the most basic expressions of that respect,” Romney said at the time.

Fetterman’s statement in response: a viral meme of actor Kevin James shrugging his shoulders.

New Jersey senator charged for gold bars and other bribes

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., was indicted last month for a second time, after he and his wife allegedly accepted bribes in the form of cash, a car and gold bars.

Along with three New Jersey businessmen, the senior senator and his wife, Nadine Arslanian Menendez, face charges including conspiracy to commit bribery and conspiracy to commit honest services fraud.

In the indictment against Menendez are photographs of jackets with his monogram, a U.S. Senate seal and cash-stuffed pockets.

Despite over half his Senate Democratic colleagues calling for his removal, Menendez has said he will not resign from office.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: From Kevin McCarthy to George Santos: How this Congress makes history

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