Newbie Lawmakers Arrive On Capitol Hill

Yes, Mr. Smith came to Washington this week — that's 35-year-old Rep. Adrian Smith of Nebraska — and it's not his fault that he's 45th out of 49 new members to pick a Capitol Hill office. His right-hand man drew the number -for- him.

"They give the square footage, whether or not it's due for carpet, and whether or not it has drapes," says Smith.

The neighborhood can be pretty nice. But Smith is resigned to the Capitol Hill version of a freshman dorm: fifth floor of the Cannon Building: quiet, but without a lot of extras.

Not such great real estate, which Smith understands, since he sells real estate back home.

Disappointed? Doesn't show. But overwhelmed?

"It's certainly a humbling experience," he says, "You know just coming in new. The freshmen are the only ones with the big huge badges on."

And Smith repeats a line you'd expect from a beauty pageant runner up: I'm just happy to be here.

He says it's a thrill to stand on the capitol steps — where they shot the freshmen class picture — exciting to get advice from the outgoing house speaker, and it's really cool to hang with the class rock star: former NFL quarterback Heath Shuler — even though he is a democrat.

"I'm just seeing so many of these personalities face-to-face, meeting them on a one-on-one basis."

"They're your colleagues now," says Chen.

"That's right," Smith says. "And they have one vote, and I have one vote."

There's a lot to learn — and newcomers don't get a handbook on "how to be a congressman" but there are some classes that got underway this week.

In addition Mr. Smith was also elected a sort of "class rep."

He clearly plans to be a player when the 110th congress is sworn in, in January.