It shouldn’t have come as a surprise that the 117th Congress would be the most diverse ever. The past six congresses have increasingly bested the last by including more and more non-white lawmakers. And this class is not only racially and ethnically diverse, there are more women and members of the LGBTQ community, too.
With about a quarter of voting members (23 percent) in the House of Representatives and Senate now belonging to a racial or ethnic minority, and with women accounting for slightly more than a quarter of seats, Congress is getting closer to being demographically reflective of the country.
Joining this class meant immediately becoming a part of history, in more ways than one. For freshman lawmakers, their first week on the job will always be marked by a violent insurrection. January 6th was already fever-pitched for newcomers and veterans alike. Lawmakers arrived to vote to certify the election for Joe Biden, while then-President Donald Trump held a rally within earshot contesting the election results. And soon enough some of Trump’s followers stormed the Capitol.
“I had prepared remarks and I was ready my first time on the floor. And I was going to be talking about defending Georgia’s 16 Electoral College votes,” said first-term congresswoman Rep. Nikema Williams (D-Ga.). “But that opportunity didn’t come.”
The day of January 6 left a pall over the country and visual reminders around the Capitol in the form of the fenced off complex and increased military and police presence. It also left a mark on this new class of lawmakers.
RED, FRESH & BLUE is POLITICO’s video interview series that introduces first-term lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and looks at what makes them tick. This season POLITICO Playbook co-author EUGENE DANIELS sat down with five freshman members for a free-wheeling conversation on everything from the insurrection to voting rights to Bitcoin.