Everyone in Congress came from somewhere. It's possible that they were once in local or state government or active in major social causes, but that's not a safe assumption. The problems and procedures faced in the Capitol are uniquely complicated, and I'm not sure how much practice you'd get in the seven weeks between election and inauguration.

What training (if any) does Congress provide to newly elected legislators on rules, procedures, or relevant skills? If there are no formal programs, how does the new blood get up to speed while still fulfilling their duties?

  • 5
    Most of the congressmen's job is to get elected and they're obviously qualified for that part. In every other area they're usually amateurs as the public rarely picks the best candidates for the position. Mar 25, 2018 at 5:48
  • Is there any evidence that "being active in major social causes" somehow makes one more qualified to cast votes on random topics than having a real productive job?
    – user4012
    Mar 25, 2018 at 13:36
  • 2
    @user4012 What makes a job "real"/"productive"?
    – JAB
    Mar 25, 2018 at 14:58
  • 3
    No, the lobbyists do the training.
    – Tony Ennis
    Mar 25, 2018 at 18:54
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    @user4012 Domain expertise would be very useful on a relevant committee.
    – JesseTG
    Mar 25, 2018 at 19:19

3 Answers 3


The Democratic and Republican parties, and major think-tanks, host orientations for entering "freshmen" Congressmen. These symposiums are normally held after the Congressmen-elect know that they are likely to be certified as winning their seats, but before their inaugurations. For example, this C-SPAN video discusses the 1994 Republican freshman class's orientation, which was hosted in Baltimore during December 1994 by the Heritage Foundation.

Each such "class" of representatives typically forms a caucus, so that they can discuss common concerns with each other. For example, this C-SPAN video discusses a meeting of the 1994 Republican freshman class.

  • Huh. Not technically official but close enough. Thank you for the information.
    – JesseTG
    Mar 25, 2018 at 4:16

If there are no formal programs, how does the new blood get up to speed while still fulfilling their duties?

I don't know about formal training, but members of Congress have staffs. Those staff members will often have experience, particularly those in senior positions like legislative advisor or policy director.

I can also tell you that new members of Congress are assigned to existing members for support. So a brand new member at least has one person with experience who will take a call asking for help. The existing members who do this a lot can use this to connect to other members, which can lead to leadership positions.

They may or may not have formal training. I don't know. But they certainly have informal methods to get new people up to speed.

  • I know that there are lots of mentor/mentee relationships in Congress, but I didn't know that they were codified into the system!
    – JesseTG
    Mar 25, 2018 at 3:38
  • Also, not quite an answer to my question (because you don't mention anything concrete about formal training), but still an insightful answer. So thank you.
    – JesseTG
    Mar 25, 2018 at 4:20

Congress is two separate bodies - the House of Representatives and the Senate which will act independently in this manner.

https://www.npr.org/2017/11/09/562912713/senate-mandates-sexual-harassment-training-house-conducting-review-including-hea shows that both the House and the Senate offer training to legislators. In fact, it appears that even for Senators there is some mandatory training.

Yes, the problems and procedures are uniquely complicated, but you just spent the last several months convincing the voters of your district that you are uniquely qualified to "drain the swamp", "make America great again", "represent their values", etc. Why are you suddenly unsure of your ability?

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