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New Meat Coming Through: How ‘Mean Girls’ Explains the 113th Congress

Okay, so it's not exactly Mean Girls, but it's pretty close. Today's the first day of "class" for the new Congress (although veteran members haven't exactly had a break), and we're here to introduce you to this year's cast of characters, high school yearbook style.

School Profile

From Flickr user humbertomoreno

P.S. 113 (AKA The 113th Congress)

Superintendent: President Barack Obama
Principal: Vice President (and President of the Senate) Joe Biden

Senate queen bees: Majority Leader Harry Reid and Majority Whip Dick Durbin for the Democrats, who control the Senate; Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Whip John Cornyn for the Republicans

House queen bees: Speaker of the House John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor for the Republicans, who control the House; Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer for the Democrats

The Seniors

Representative John Boehner (R-OH)
Clique: Republicans (Mathletes)
Superlative: Most Likely to Stir Up Controversy
Known for: Currently the Speaker of the House, unofficially known as Nancy Pelosi's mortal enemy (like, seriously, you guys, they won't even say 'hi' to each other in the hall). He was (as expected) re-elected as Speaker today. Boehner's been a representative since 1990. More recently, he's been in the news for ... quite a bit. Politically, in the fight over how to solve the fiscal cliff, he lost the respect of a lot of fellow party members - and got a lot of flack when the blocked a vote on aid to states hit by Hurricane Sandy. Then he barely won enough votes to be re-elected Speaker. Does he even want to be Speaker anymore?

This is probably how Boehner feels right about now:

Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
Clique: The Democrats (Drama Dept.)
Superlative: Most Likely to Lead
Known for: Being the first-ever female Speaker of the House. Pelosi is the minority party's (the Democrats') leader in the House of Representatives. She was the Speaker of the House from 2007-2011, when it was controlled by the Democrats, and has been a representative since 1987. We know she's, like, serious most of the time, but she can totally get down when she wants to.

When she was made Speaker, she was all:

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Clique: The Republicans (Mathletes)
Superlative: Most Likely to Tow the Line
Known for: McConnell is the Senate Minority Leader. He played a big role in forging the fiscal cliff compromise-- it helped that he's buddies with Joe Biden. Some have criticized, while others praised. The Week called him "the most powerful Republican in Washington."

To the haters, McConnell's all:

Representative Eric Cantor (R-VA)
Clique: The Republicans (Mathletes)
Superlative: Most Likely to Make a Power Grab
Known for: Cantor is the Majority Leader in the House, and, most recently, voted against the Fiscal Cliff compromise, unlike the Speaker of the House. We hear he totally wants to be Speaker of the House.

When Boehner and most of the House Republicans voted for the fiscal cliff bill, Cantor was all:

Senator Charles "Chuck" Schumer (D-NY)
Clique: The Democrats (Drama Dept.)
Superlative: Most Outspoken
Known for: Schumer's been in office for a long time - since 1998 - and is a very outspoken advocate for his home state, New York. Schumer's latest battle for NY is on Sandy aid, which was denied by the House. Over $60 billion was supposed to go to hurricane victims, and Schumer is blaming the Republicans. When Representative Darrell Issa told "Fox and Friends" that the bill was "packed with pork," Schumer said, "Issa just kind of makes it up as he goes along." BOOM.

Schumer on the House Republicans:

Basically, no one is really getting along right now.

The Freshmen

Meet a couple of members of the incoming class that just started the school year today.

Representative Krysten Sinema (D-AZ)
Clique: The Democrats (Drama Dept.)
Superlative: Most Unique
Known for: Sinema has an interesting background: she's the first ever openly bisexual member of congress, spent some of her childhood living in a gas station, and has three "advanced" degrees. She's also young: only 36. In Arizona, she's known for making her opinions known, but also having conservative friends in the legislature.

Everyone keeps talking about Sinema being bisexual and she's all:

Representative Raul Ruiz (D-CA)
Clique: The Democrats (Drama Dept.)
Superlative: Most Likely to Be Doogie Howser
Known for: Dr. Ruiz is like, really, really smart. He's got three degrees from Harvard and worked as a doctor before going into politics. He even beat an incumbent for his seat in the House, which is no easy feat. When he was young, Ruiz spent a year in Mexico which likely shaped his view on immigration - many think he'll be a proponent for immigration.

You go, Raul Ruiz!

Representative Ann Wagner (R-MO)
Clique: The Republicans (Mathletes)
Superlative: Teacher's Pet
Known for: Wagner is one of the many new female faces coming into the House. Her seat was put under a microscope during this election, when Todd Akin, whose seat she was running for, made controversial remarks on "legitimate rape." (Akin was running for Senate and lost.) She's been tapped as a liaison between incoming House Republicans and veteran representatives.

The House Republicans to Ann Wagner:


The Kicker

Here's how you can get involved in some of the issues the new Congress is expected to take up:

Immigration: Join a DREAM Act group >>

Filibuster reform: Sign a petition >>

Gun control: Demand a plan >>

Image of the Capitol building used under Creative Commons licensing.

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Lily Altavena

Lily is currently a TV news producer in Dallas, Texas. Previously, she was a production assistant at MSNBC. She is also a recent NYU grad. She interned for Ann Curry’s team at NBC News, The New York Times, The Village Voice, and the education nonprofit She’s the First. Her interests range from politics to education to comedy. She is not actually a dinosaur. Follow: @lilyalta.

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