- Mia Penner
The 117th Congress Will Contain a Record Number of Female Delegates. Here Are Five Standouts:
Updated: Dec 1, 2020
With ballots from the 2020 election still being counted across the country, at least 141 women—the greatest number in American history—are expected to serve in the 117th Congress. Even in polarizing times, women are making tremendous strides in a political environment once dominated by men. Here are five newly-elected congresswomen who prove that female strength and ingenuity transcend party lines:
Once she assumes office, Cori Bush will be the first African American woman to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives from Missouri. “It’s unbelievable,” she told St. Louis Public Radio about her election. “It’s amazing. But it’s also sad. Because it’s 2020, and I’ll be the first woman in the district and the first Black congresswoman ever for the state.” As a progressive Democrat, she promotes social, economic, and environmental justice through support for policies such as police reform, abortion rights, Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and free college. But Bush’s political success has not come without considerable difficulty: she is a single mother of two who previously raised her children while homeless. Bush’s poverty-stricken past should serve as a source of inspiration to all feminists, illustrating how strong-willed women can rise from the depths of despair to Capitol Hill.
As a congresswoman-elect from New Mexico’s 2nd district, Yvette Herrell will become the first Cherokee woman and the first Republican Native American woman in Congress. As a staunch conservative, she supports immigration reform, Second Amendment rights, free market healthcare, middle-class tax relief, and job creation. Along with Democrats Deb Haaland and Teresa Leger Fernandez, Herrell is part of a historic New Mexico House delegation consisting entirely of women of color.
Former Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland will become the first Black representative from Washington state and the first Korean-American woman in Congress. As a member of the Democratic Party, Strickland has been described as a political moderate or centrist. She is a staunch supporter of women’s reproductive rights along with other Democratic causes including gun control, affordable healthcare, and criminal justice reform. Above all, Strickland sees the value of bipartisan cooperation and will attempt to legislate across party lines once she assumes office. “Our campaign was focused on the issues — not labels and partisanship — and I will take that same approach to our nation’s capital,” she said. “Just as I have always done, I will work with anyone who is willing to work with me to get results.”
Along with Marilyn Strickland and Michelle Steel, Young Kim is the first Korean-American woman elected to Congress. As a moderate Republican and fiscal conservative, Kim has voiced support for tax relief, job creation, moderate police reform, increased educational funding, immigration reform, private health insurance, and affordable housing. Her top priority as a representative from California is to work across the aisle in order to pass effective legislation. “Bipartisanship is really important especially when you're elected to represent the people,” she said.
In the November general election, Carolyn Bourdeaux flipped Georgia’s 7th congressional district blue, defeating incumbent Republican Rep. Rob Woodal. One of Bourdeaux’s top priorities is women’s rights; in Congress, she vows to support the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Equal Rights Amendment, women’s reproductive rights, and paid leave. Bordeaux is especially concerned with maternal healthcare given that Georgia has the highest maternal mortality rate in the country. In order to combat maternal death, she supports the expansion of Medicaid, efforts to increase the number of health professionals in Georgia, and other measures.
All of these newly-elected congresswomen demonstrate how women are making steady gains in the world of politics. But the fight for equality is far from over. Although the 117th Congress will contain a record number of female delegates, women will still make up just over a quarter of Congress despite accounting for more than half of the U.S. population.