POLITICS

Despite increased diversity, Congress remains overwhelmingly white, male

  • WASHINGTON - MARCH 1:  Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi addresses U.S. legislators in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol during a joint meeting of Congress March 1, 2006 in Washington, DC. Berlusconi faces a challenging election in April and was praised by U.S. President George W. Bush yesterday for bringing ?stability to the Italian government.?  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

    WASHINGTON - MARCH 1: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi addresses U.S. legislators in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol during a joint meeting of Congress March 1, 2006 in Washington, DC. Berlusconi faces a challenging election in April and was praised by U.S. President George W. Bush yesterday for bringing ?stability to the Italian government.? (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)  (2006 Getty Images)

  • Sen.-elect Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev.

    Sen.-elect Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev.  (ap)

Meet the new Congress — the first Latina senator, three House members moving across the Capitol to the Senate and a few former lawmakers who seized their old jobs back.

Just like college freshmen, the recently elected members of the House — at least 50 — descend on Washington on Monday for a week of orientation, a class photo on the East Front steps and a lottery to secure their new offices.

The next Congress will include a record number of minority women, but even with the gains, Congress will remain overwhelmingly white, male and middle-aged.

Democrats Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Kamala Harris of California and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois are among a record 21 women who will serve in the Senate, up from 20 out of 100.

Cortez Masto will be the first Latina senator, while Harris and Duckworth will join Hawaii Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono to form the Senate's largest ever Asian-American contingent.

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Harris, the daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica, is just the second black woman elected to the Senate and the first with South Asian roots.

The House, meanwhile, will welcome its first Vietnamese-American and Indian-American women: Democrats Stephanie Murphy of Florida and Pramila Jayapal of Washington state.

Overall, the number of minority women in Congress will increase to 33 in the House from 27 and stand at four in the Senate.

A look at the new Congress:

NEW SENATORS

Six new senators join the ranks — a seventh will be chosen next month in Louisiana's runoff.

Harris, 52, a former prosecutor, currently serves as California's attorney general.

Duckworth, a two-term House member, is a veteran of the Iraq War, where as an Army pilot, she lost both legs when her helicopter was hit by a grenade. Duckworth, 48, was born in Thailand, to an American father and Thai-Chinese mother.

A former two-term Nevada attorney general, Cortez Masto, 52, also has worked as a prosecutor and chief of staff to former Nevada Gov. Bob Miller. Her father is of Mexican descent and her mother is of Italian descent.

Republican Rep. Todd Young of Indiana is a three-term congressman and former Capitol Hill aide. Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland will replace Barbara Mikulski, who is retiring after 30 years in the Senate. A key lieutenant to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Van Hollen, 57, has focused on budget issues and foreign policy.

New Hampshire's Maggie Hassan, a two-term governor, defeated freshman Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte in the nation's closest Senate race.

Hassan, 58, will be the second woman in U.S. history to serve as both governor and senator. New Hampshire's other senator, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, was the first.

WOMEN ASCEND IN SENATE, DECLINE IN HOUSE

A total of 104 women will serve in the next Congress, the same as in the current Congress and 19.4 percent of the total number of lawmakers. Twenty-one women will serve in the Senate while 83 women will serve in the House, a drop of one from the current 84.

While the number of female lawmakers will remain static, the increased number of minority women is "a landmark for women's participation in Congress," said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

In addition to Hillary Clinton's defeat in the presidential race, women saw setbacks in Congress. Maryland's 10-member congressional delegation reverted to all-male, while Pennsylvania voters rejected Democrat Katie McGinty's bid to become the first woman in the state elected to the Senate. Pennsylvania's 20-member congressional delegation remains all male.

Democrat Lisa Blunt Rochester will be Delaware's first woman and first African-American in Congress, leaving just two states — Mississippi and Vermont — that have never sent a woman to either chamber of Congress.

AFRICAN-AMERICANS GAIN

A record 48 African-Americans will serve in Congress, including 46 in the House, an overall increase of two. Eighteen black women serve in Congress, including Republican Rep. Mia Love of Utah. Love is one of three black Republicans, along with South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and Texas Rep. Will Hurd.

Democrat Val Demings, an African American and the first female police chief in Orlando, Florida, won a seat in the House.

HISPANICS, ASIAN AMERICANS GAIN

A record 39 Hispanics will serve in Congress, including 35 in the House. Seven Hispanic freshmen were elected to the House, all Democrats. Ruben Kihuen will be the first Latino to represent Nevada in the House, while New York's Adriano Espaillat will be the first Dominican-American.

Fifteen Asian Americans will serve in Congress, including 12 in the House. That's up from 10 in the current Congress.

WELCOME BACK

Three former House members, all Democrats, won their old seats back: Colleen Hanabusa of Hawaii, Brad Schneider of Illinois and Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire.

NEXT GENERATION

Republican Liz Cheney of Wyoming won a House seat formerly held by her father — former Vice President Dick Cheney — while Democrat Jimmy Panetta captured a California seat once held by his father, Leon Panetta, a former CIA director and defense secretary.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska easily won re-election to a Senate seat once held by her father, Frank Murkowski.

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