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On January 3rd at noon at Washington, D.C., the sworn in 116th Congress has officially convened. This historical congress has a Democratic majority, the first time in eight years, and comprises a record number of women and minorities. Nancy Pelosi, who was re-elected as House Speaker and remains the first woman to serve in the position, remarked that this Congress “will be transparent, bipartisan and unifying.”
Over 118 women now serve in the 116th Congress, an increase from the current number of 107. Likewise, women have increased their representation in Congress by at least 2 percent. Also, many of these women were first-time candidates, inspired by the recent political climate to get involved and make a difference.
The 116th Congress features a number of firsts due to the uptick in women elects, including a record number of non-incumbents and women of color, the youngest woman ever to be elected to Congress, 29-year-old Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for New York’s 14th District, and the first Muslim women, Democrat Rashida Tlaib for Michigan’s 13th District, and Democrat Ilhan Omar for Minnesota’s 5th District. Tlaib is also the first Palestinian-American to serve in Congress.
In addition, Democrat Sharice Davids won the House seat in Kansas’s 3rd District, and Democrat Deb Haaland won in New Mexico’s 1st District, making them both the first Native American women to be elected into Congress.
Women made history in their respective states, as well. Democrat Ayanna Pressley became the first black women to be elected from Massachusetts; Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne, both Democrats, are the first women to be elected into the House from Iowa; Democrats Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia are the first Latina congress members from Texas; and Republican Kim Reynolds became first woman governor of Iowa.
In its first few days, the House plans to address topics such as the on-going government shutdown, corruption, drug prices, income disparity, infrastructure, climate change and more.
This same day, new Senators have been sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence. The Senate remains Republican-led with a 53-47 majority.