The House and Senate chambers are convening right now. The 117th Congress will officially be sworn in later today.
The Constitution calls for Congress to convene on January 3 at noon ET — the reason for the rare Sunday session.
Newly elected and returning members will take the oath of office and the full House of Representatives will vote to elect a new Speaker. Nancy Pelosi, who has served as House speaker in the 116th Congress, is on track to remain in the role.
Pelosi has a slim margin for error on Sunday. After serving 17 years as the House Democratic leader, Pelosi is running unopposed. But she will have to count votes carefully to ensure that she can avoid any embarrassment on the House floor, facing the Democrats’ smallest majority in decades, a pandemic that could hinder attendance and some in her caucus agitating for new leadership, as well as unified Republican resistance.
In order to win the speakership, a member must receive a majority of votes. In 2018, 15 Democrats defected from Pelosi but she can only afford to lose a few in 2021. After losing a dozen seats in 2020, House Democrats are likely to control around 222 seats next term.
Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin and Maine Rep. Jared Golden have already said they do not plan on voting for her. And a handful of moderate and progressive Democrats, including Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger and Reps.-elect Cori Bush of Missouri and Jamaal Bowman of New York, have declined to say how they would vote.
House Democrats kept control of the House in the November elections, but will now have a narrower majority after suffering a string of losses, despite projections that they would win more seats. House Republicans, meanwhile, outperformed expectations and are now poised to add a significant number of GOP women to their ranks in the new Congress.
In the Senate, the balance of power still has yet to be decided with all eyes on a pair of Senate runoff elections taking place in Georgia on January 5 that will determine which party controls the chamber.