America welcomes freshman class of Congress

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America welcomes freshman class of Congress

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After the loaded election last year, Congress members are taking their seats. The freshman class is the most diverse class in Congress since 2016, bringing in more women and people of color (POC) than ever before. The class also changed the focus of the House and Senate with the House being Democratic while the Senate is more Republican.

42 women were elected to Congress, 38 being Democratic and four being Republican. One of the women, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is the youngest member of Congress, and she is the first person of color to represent the 14th district of New York. Additionally, Sharice Davids and Debra Haaland, the first two Native American women to be elected to Congress, and Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, the first two Muslim American women elected, are part of the freshman class.

On the topic of diversity, 21% of the freshman class is POC. Out of those 24 people of color, 75% went to graduate school, and 33% have law degrees. 10 POC members represent mostly white districts, while 14 represent minority-majority districts.

With the addition of Krysten Sinema, Angie Craig, Sharice Davids, Katie Hill and Chris Pappas, the number of openly LGBT Congress members hits double digits. Other Congress members have shown support for their gay colleagues and constituents, such as Rep. Jennifer Wexton, who hung a transgender pride flag outside her office in honor of the community.

Georgia received a new representative as well. Lucy McBath, a Democratic-elect, defeated Karen Handel, the previous Republican-elect, in the race for House. Mcbath is the first black woman to represent the 6th district of Georgia, and she is one of the nine new black candidates elected to Congress.

With a Democratic House and a Republican Senate, many of President Trump’s plans, such as new tax cuts, Affordable Care Act changes, and stricter immigration legislation, will be tougher to pass. The Republicans in the Senate are determined to defend the president and allow his nominees to serve in the federal judiciary, whereas the Democrats in the House plan to launch investigations on President Trump.

However, there are divides within the parties as well. The Democrats in the House have a large population of progressives, such as Ocasio-Cortez, who will conflict with the moderates in the party, such as Nancy Pelosi. Progressives aim for healthcare for all, crackdowns on predatory banks and generally want to pursue radical ideas, whereas Moderates have a more fiscal conservative or social conservative mindset. The difference in party views makes it difficult for the House to unify their agenda.

Image: Boston Spirit