Republican Second District Congresswoman Renee Ellmers was sworn in to office Wednesday afternoon. Supporters were expected to hold a reception in her honor at a Washington hotel.
Ellmers ousted seven-term Democratic Congressman Bob Etheridge on the promise of lowering government spending.
She joins dozens of other GOP freshmen swept into office in November. The party will have a majority in the U.S. House, while Democrats will retain control of the Senate.
Even before she took office, however, Ellmers was at the center of a controversy.
She was among a dozen GOP lawmakers at a $2,500-a-ticket fundraiser Tuesday night at the swank W Hotel in Washington that was attended primarily by lobbyists and special-interest groups.
Ellmers criticized Etheridge during the campaign for taking money from interest groups. She dismissed statements from Democratic officials this week that she was hypocritical for attending Tuesday's dinner, saying she was only playing by the rules of Washington politics.
A nurse who won the support of the tea party and former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, Ellmers said she just wants to improve the country while on Capitol Hill.
"I want to get my work done. I want to do everything I can to change things, get things back on track," she said.
Ellmers will sit on the Agriculture, Small Business and Foreign Affairs committees in the 112th Congress. She said the assignments put her in a unique position to address issues important to the residents of district, which includes Fort Bragg.