Diversity gains in Congress have yet to equal nation’s
Washington — The 114th Congress contains more minorities and women than ever, although lawmakers remain overwhelmingly white and male in the Republican-controlled House and Senate that took office Tuesday.
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 its ranks.
The number of women is up slightly from 100 at the close of the last Congress and represents about 20 percent of the total body. It’s far less than the nearly 51 percent of the U.S. population. The new Congress also has 94 racial minorities, about 18 percent.
The Congress is comprised of 100 senators and 435 seats in the House.
The House has 246 Republicans and 188 Democrats. One seat is vacant following the resignation this week of Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., who pleaded guilty to a felony tax evasion charge.
The Senate has 54 Republicans and 44 Democrats, plus two independents — Maine’s Angus King and Vermont’s Bernie Sanders. Both caucus with Democrats.
The House contains 84 women, 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 when 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.)
The body includes two African-Americans — Republican Tim Scott of South Carolina and Democrat Cory Booker of New Jersey and three Hispanics — Republicans Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas and Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey.
Democrat Mazie Hirono of Hawaii is the only Asian-American in the Senate.
Of the 58 freshmen in the House, 43 are Republicans and 15 Democrats. Three other new members are considered veterans of a few weeks. Reps. Dave Brat, R-Virginia, Donald Norcross, D-New Jersey, and Alma Adams, D-North Carolina, took the oath shortly after November’s elections to fill vacated seats.
The 13 new members in the Senate include 12 Republicans and one Democrat, Gary Peters of Michigan.