Women Break Barriers in 116th Congress
Maggie Middleton, Staff Writer
2018 was a big year in politics. The Midterm Elections took place, when we elect our House of Representatives and Senators. The Democrats are now the majority in the House of Representatives, while the Republicans maintain the majority of the Senate.
127 women are now serving in the House of Representatives and Senate, the largest number to ever be in these positions of power.
There are 25 new female Senators, 17 Democrats, and 8 Republicans. IIhan Omar (D - Minnesota) is one of the first Muslim congresswomen in American History. This shows those that feel religiously persecuted that they are also wanted in politics.
Rashida Tlaib (D - Michigan), who is also Muslim, is the first Somali-American to ever be elected to Congress, after taking the seat left vacant by the resignation of Rep. John Conyers Jr., who held the seat for 53 years.
Democrats Sharice Davids of Kansas and Deb Haaland of New Mexico are the first Native-American women to be elected to Congress, members of the Ho-Chunk and Laguna Pueblo Nations, respectively. Sharice Davids is also the first openly LGBTQ member of Congress from her state.
Marsha Blackburn (R) is Tennessee’s first female senator. She will work with fellow GOP member Joni Ernst from Iowa on the Senate Judiciary, weighing in on judicial nominations and women's issues such as the Violence Against Women Act.
Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is now the youngest woman ever to be elected to Congress, at 29. She worked on Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and is an outspoken, fiery critic of sitting President Donald Trump.
Jahana Hayes (D) is the first African-American congresswoman from the state of Connecticut. Awarded National Teacher of the Year in 2016, she became inspired to run for office after becoming frustrated with the situation of the current public school system.
Ayanna Pressley (D) is the first African-American congresswoman from the state of Massachusetts. Long before being elected to the House, she was the first African-American women to serve on the Boston City Council, in 2009.
Silvia Garcia and Veronica Escobar, both Democrats, are Texas’ first Latina congresswomen. This is an amazing accomplishment for Latina and Hispanic women in Texas. Even with 40% of the population in Texas being of Mexican or Latin American descent, Garcia and Escobar are now the first to serve in Congress.
Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) is Mississippi’s first female to ever be elected to Congress, she now serves in the Senate after beating out Democrat Mike Espy, who served for 32 years.
Arizona has only ever had males in the Senate, but now both of the positions are held by women. Republican Martha McSally lost the primaries to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, but now fills the spot of deceased John McCain. Sinema is not only the first female but the first Democrat to be elected to the Arizona Senate in thirty years. Sinema is also the first openly bisexual senator to be elected to the U.S. Senate.
Democrats Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne are the first women to be elected to the House from Iowa, both defeating Republicans.
Most of these women are Democrats, and are wearing brightly-colored clothing that pushes the boundaries of what is considered "appropriate" attire for the House and Senate floors, from Omar’s colorful, patterned hijabs and Ocasio-Cortez’s bright lipstick to Sinema’s bright prints and bold patterns, the governing officials of our nation are no longer solely white men in dark suits.
In the coming years, this major pattern of diversity and inclusion may just become the new normal.