History is made today – an all-time record breaking number of women were sworn in to the US Congress. Out of the total number of 127 women elected to the Senate and House, a majority of the women are Democrats and include firsts from various minorities. They include the former Teacher of the Year, small business owners, former military helicopter pilots, activists, former CIA officers, and public servants.
The 116th class of Congress has been breaking records in other ways as well. Kansas and New Mexico sent the first Native American women to Congress, both Democrats. Two Muslim Democratic women will be serving in the US Congress. Two Latina women are representing the state of Texas for the first time, a state where 40% of the population identifies as Hispanic. And two Black women are now representing New England.
The House will be led by a historic first as well. Longtime Democratic leader, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of California, broke all barriers when she won the Speaker’s gavel and reclaimed the role she held between 2007 and 2011. She is the only woman in the history of Congress to have held the position of the Speaker of the House and is now also the first women to hold the position for a second time. She is now third in line to the Presidency of the United States.
Women from the Democratic Party are now at the leadership of four major institutions: Cheri Bustos leads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee; Tina Kotek chairs the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee; and the Democratic Governors Association is chaired by Gina Raimondo.
While this is the first time women were elected at such an impressive number, there is still a long way to go. The House consists of 235 Democrats and 199 Republicans, while in the Senate there are 53 Republicans with 47 Democrats. Men remain the majority, holding 76% of Congressional seats while women hold roughly 24%.
Media Resources: Rutgers Eagleton Institute of Politics 1/2/2019; 11/29/2018; BBC 1/2/2019