On Thursday January 3, history was made in the United States government as the new, diverse freshman class was sworn in as part of the 116th Congress. The group included 42 new women and raised minority numbers to 55 African-American members, 45 Hispanic members, seventeen Asian-American members, and ten openly LGBTQ+ members. The class also included other firsts such as Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn) as the first Somali-American member to serve along with one of the first Muslim women, and Rep. Debra Haaland (D-NM) as one of the first Native American members.
Among the powerful women sworn in is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who becomes the youngest woman ever elected to Congress at only the age of 29. Ocasio-Cortez’s platform includes the abolishment of ICE, medicare for all, and tuition-free public college. However, her progressive platform has not come without consequence. The representative has faced brutal attacks on her character, policies, and background from both Republicans and Democrats. Florida Republican Ron DeSantis went as far as to describe Ocasio-Cortez as “that girl … whatever she is.” Former Senator Claire McCaskill described the representative as “nothing more than a bright shiny new object.” However, Ocasio-Cortez didn’t come to Congress to mess around. She mocks her critics in a nasally voice. “We’re not scared of you,” she says, “we’re laughing at you!”
Along with Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, and Haaland, Congress will be joined by Veronica Escobar (D) and Sylvia Garcia (D), the first two Latina congresswomen from Texas. Andy Kim (D-NJ) makes strides as the first Korean-American elected from his state, along with Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass) and Jahana Hayes (D-Conn), who became the first African-American women to represent their states. Angie Craig (D-Minn) and Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) join the House as open members of the LGBTQ+ community, and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich) becomes the first Palestinian-American woman to serve. In fact, she swore in wearing traditional Palestinian attire, as did Rep. Haaland, who wore Pueblo attire.