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The 118th Congress is off to a historic start. Here's a look at the first day

The House of Representatives holds a vote on speaker of the House on Jan. 3, the first day of the 118th Congress.
Kent Nishimura
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Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
The House of Representatives holds a vote on speaker of the House on Jan. 3, the first day of the 118th Congress.

History was made in a number of ways as the 118th Congress convened for the first time on Tuesday.

In the Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky became the longest serving Senate leader in history. Meanwhile, the House of Representatives failed to elect a speaker in a single ballot, the first time in a century. Thanks to a divide among Republicans, California Rep. Kevin McCarthy — whom the party had nominated for the role in November — failed to secure the 218 votes necessary to win. Meanwhile, Democrats were unified in support for their leader, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, for speaker — and many noted his historical nomination as the first Black lawmaker to lead a congressional chamber.

As for McCarthy, the future remains unclear, with 20 Republican defectors digging in their heels and voting for Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, who has repeatedly said he does not want the position.

Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California holds the gavel as she calls the first session of the 118th Congress to order on Tuesday.
Andrew Harnik / AP
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AP
Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California holds the gavel as she calls the first session of the 118th Congress to order on Tuesday.
GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California speaks to reporters following a meeting with House Republicans at the Capitol on Tuesday.
Kevin Dietsch / Getty Images
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Getty Images
GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California speaks to reporters following a meeting with House Republicans at the Capitol on Tuesday.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and his wife Ginger Luckey, walk in the Capitol on Tuesday.
Susan Walsh / AP
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AP
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and his wife Ginger Luckey, walk in the Capitol on Tuesday.
Vice President Harris swears in Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., along side her husband, Rob Murray, in the old Senate chamber for the ceremonial swearing on Tuesday.
Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images
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Getty Images
Vice President Harris swears in Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., along side her husband, Rob Murray, in the old Senate chamber for the ceremonial swearing on Tuesday.
A child sits on the lap of Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., during opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday.
Andrew Harnik / AP
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AP
A child sits on the lap of Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., during opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday.
A first edition Superman comic from 1939 is placed with copies of the Constitution and a variety of holy books for use in the swearing-in ceremonies of new House members.
J. Scott Applewhite / AP
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AP
A first edition Superman comic from 1939 is placed with copies of the Constitution and a variety of holy books for use in the swearing-in ceremonies of new House members.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks to his office as he talks to reporters on Capitol Hill on Jan. 3. McConnell became longest serving leader in Senate history on Tuesday.
Jose Luis Magana / AP
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AP
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks to his office as he talks to reporters on Capitol Hill on Jan. 3. McConnell became longest serving leader in Senate history on Tuesday.
A member of Congress looks at photos of members on their mobile device during opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol on Jan 3. in Washington.
Andrew Harnik / AP
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AP
A member of Congress looks at photos of members on their mobile device during opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol on Jan 3. in Washington.
Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., arrives to the House chamber before the vote for speaker of the House on the opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, on Jan. 3 in Washington.
Alex Brandon / AP
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AP
Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., arrives to the House chamber before the vote for speaker of the House on the opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, on Jan. 3 in Washington.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., waves after being nominated as speaker of the House on the opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, on Jan. 3 in Washington.
Alex Brandon / AP
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AP
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., waves after being nominated as speaker of the House on the opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, on Jan. 3 in Washington.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, attends the first session of the 118th Congress in the Capitol's House chamber.
Al Drago / Bloomberg via Getty Images
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Bloomberg via Getty Images
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, attends the first session of the 118th Congress in the Capitol's House chamber.
Incoming Rep. Robert Menendez Jr., a Democrat from New Jersey, holds his child during the first day of the 118th Congress in the U.S. Capitol's House chamber on Jan. 3.
Win McNamee / Getty Images
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Getty Images
Incoming Rep. Robert Menendez Jr., a Democrat from New Jersey, holds his child during the first day of the 118th Congress in the U.S. Capitol's House chamber on Jan. 3.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., talks with Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., during the vote for House Speaker on the opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, in Washington.
Alex Brandon / AP
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AP
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., talks with Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., during the vote for House Speaker on the opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, in Washington.
House clerks tally votes as members of the House of Representatives hold their vote for speaker on the first day of the 118th Congress.
Win McNamee / Getty Images
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Getty Images
House clerks tally votes as members of the House of Representatives hold their vote for speaker on the first day of the 118th Congress.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California listens as votes are cast for next speaker of the House during the opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol.
Alex Brandon / AP
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AP
Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California listens as votes are cast for next speaker of the House during the opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol.
Vice President Kamala Harris, right, participates in a ceremonial swearing-in of Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., left, with his wife Gisele Barreto Fetterman, in the Old Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2022.
Jacquelyn Martin / AP
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AP
Vice President Kamala Harris, right, participates in a ceremonial swearing-in of Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., left, with his wife Gisele Barreto Fetterman, in the Old Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2022.

Catie Dull photo edited this piece.

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Dustin Jones
Dustin Jones is a reporter for NPR's digital news desk. He mainly covers breaking news, but enjoys working on long-form narrative pieces.