WASHINGTON (AP) – The 114th Congress that convenes Tuesday will count more minorities and women than ever, although lawmakers remain overwhelmingly white and male in the Republican-controlled House and Senate.
A record 104 women will serve in Congress, and for the first time, African-American members of both genders and representing both parties will be among the ranks on Capitol Hill.
The number of female lawmakers is up slightly from 100 at the close of the last Congress, but represents about 20 per cent of the total in Congress. It’s far less than the nearly 51 per cent of the US population. A total of 96 racial minorities will serve in Congress, about 18 per cent.
There are 100 senators and 435 member of the House.
The House will have 246 Republicans and 188 Democrats. One seat is vacant following the resignation on Monday of Republican Representative Michael Grimm of New York, who pleaded guilty to a felony tax evasion charge.
The Senate will have 54 Republicans and 44 Democrats, plus two independents – Maine’s Angus King and Vermont’s Bernie Sanders. Both caucus with the Democrats.
A total of 84 women will serve in the House, compared with 80 in the last Congress. The new lawmakers include Elise Stefanik, a 30-year-old New York Republican who is the youngest woman ever elected to the House. Also making history is Mia Love, 38, whose election to a suburban Salt Lake City district made her the first black female Republican to win a seat in Congress.
Forty-four African-Americans will serve in the House, including Love and another black Republican freshman, Will Hurd of Texas. Hurd made news last month as he was named chairman of an Information Technology subcommittee on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, an unusual distinction for a freshman.
There are 34 Hispanic lawmakers, including 10 Republicans, as well as 10 Asian-Americans and two Native Americans, both Oklahoma Republicans.
The number of women in the Senate remains at 20, following the election of Republicans Joni Ernst of Iowa and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, and the defeats of Democrats Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. (Re-elected were Republican Susan Collins of Maine and Democrat Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.)
Two African-Americans serve as senators – Republican Tim Scott of South Carolina and Democrat Cory Booker of New Jersey. There are three Hispanic senators: Republicans Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas and Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey. All three are Cuban-American.
Democrat Mazie Hirono of Hawaii is the only Asian-American in the Senate.
Fifty-eight House freshmen will be sworn in on Tuesday – 43 Republicans and 15 Democrats.
Three other members are new to Congress but are considered veterans of a few weeks. Republican Representative Dave Brat of Virginia, Democratic Representative Donald Norcross of New Jersey, and Democratic Representative Alam Adams of North Carolina, took the oath shortly after November’s elections to fill the seats of lawmakers who had left Congress.
The Senate will welcome 13 new members – 12 Republicans and one Democrat, Gary Peters of Michigan.