On Thursday, Jan. 3, congressional candidates who were elected from the Nov. 6, 2018 midterm elections, were sworn in to the 116th Congress. Many of the new candidates included minorities that have not yet been represented in Congress.
Nancy Pelosi is the first and only female Speaker of the House and Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, the first two Muslim women to serve in Congress. Nancy Pelosi has opposed and rejected many of the president’s ideas, most famously including his plan to end the government shutdown if $5.7 billion funding for his border wall is given.
Tlaib has been criticized by many Republicans for her profanity at the president.Her and Omar have both been scrutinized for their “extreme positions” on policies, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, by Republicans and supporters of Trump.
The first two Native American women elected were Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids, with Davids being the first openly lesbian member of Congress from Kansas. Both members plan on representing the Native American community and the struggles that face them, focusing on those that have not been addressed at all by the Trump administration as a priority.
There are also two new candidates who are the youngest women to serve in history; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman to be elected at the age of 25, and the youngest black woman to be elected is Lauren Underwood at the age of 32. Ocasio-Cortez has already begun her work against Trump. She opposes many of his ideas, much like many of the members previously mentioned. Most famously, she has refused to fund the wall which means the government shutdown will continue, but she is set on not allowing it to happen. Underwood also agrees, taking to Twitter to voice that the shutdown needs to end, and the government needs to reopen.
Along with the other new members is the first Asian-American elected from New Jersey, Andy Kim. Kim has voiced his frustration at the “broken” government because of the shutdown and said, “I’ve only been in D.C. eight or nine days now, and I’ve yet to see a functioning government.”
He has voted to open the government back up every time there has been a voting session, and plans to continue to do so.
Congress also welcomed a new “rainbow” wave of LGBTQ+ members, including the first openly bisexual members, Kyrsten Sinema and Katherine Hill, Angie Craig, an openly lesbian, mother of 4; and Christopher Pappas, the first openly gay member of Congress from New Hampshire.
Senior Alex Clay, president of Mt. Hebron’s Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA) club, said, “Candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had me nervous. She speaks out enough to have her own acronym (AOC). She says things that need to be said. I’m glad people like her are getting positions in Congress. But what if something happens to her? Like something bad. It feels like it’s “them” versus her.”