The New Members

The 118th Congress is due to be sworn in, and like all others, this new assemblage is a unique group.

In the House, we see 85 freshmen members coming to Washington, including the dozen who won special elections during the session just ended. Additionally, one former member, Montana’s Ryan Zinke (R-Whitehall) who also served in the Trump Administration as Interior Secretary, returns to the House.

The Senate, exclusively due to retirements along with one appointed member, California Senator Alex Padilla* (D) seeking a full term, will only welcome eight new freshmen since all incumbents seeking re-election were victorious.

Of the 85 new House members, 46 are Republicans while 39 are members of the Democratic Party. Just over one-third of the incoming group will be serving in their first elected position, a total of 31. Conversely, 37 of the House freshmen have previously been elected to their respective state legislatures. The remaining 17 held other elected positions, typically at the local level as county or city officials.

In the Senate, only two of the eight incoming members have never before served in an elective office: Alabama’s Katie Britt* (R) and J.D. Vance(R) of Ohio. The six others first include Sen. Padilla who was a member of the Los Angeles City Council, the California state Senate, and served as Secretary of State before Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) appointed him to replace then-Senator Kamala Harris who resigned her California position upon election as Vice President. 

Pennsylvania’s John Fetterman (D) was the state’s Lt. Governor and a local Mayor in the Pittsburgh area. Senator Eric Schmitt* (R) held the positions of Missouri state Treasurer and Attorney General after serving as a member of the state Senate.

The remaining freshmen, Ted Budd* (R-NC), Markwayne Mullin* (R-OK), and Peter Welch (D-VT), all enter the Senate directly from serving in the House of Representatives.

Among the incoming House members are 26 females, 18 of whom are Democrats as compared to eight Republicans. Overall, 124 women will comprise the 118th House of Representatives, 91 Democrats and 33 Republicans. This aggregate number represents a regression of two seats from the previous Congress. Another female, Virginia state Senator Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond), is the prohibitive favorite to win the February special election to replace the late Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond), however.

The new Senate will feature 25 women of its 100 members, 15 Democrats, 9 Republicans, and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema who was elected as a Democrat in 2018 but has since become an Independent.

Within the new House freshman class, we see 14 African American members, a dozen of whom are Democrats. The new Hispanic members, which number 13, are more evenly divided on a partisan basis. The Hispanic caucus will add seven new Democrats and six new Republicans. 

Two new members are Asian, both Democrats, and one, Alaska at-large Rep. Mary Peltola (D-Bethel) who won the August special election to replace the late Rep. Don Young* (R), hails from the indigenous tribal regions of the state.

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