A New Congress
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were not the only federal officials elected in November. Voters made important decisions on the future direction of Congress as well. For the first time since 2010, the Democratic Party controls the White House, the House of Representatives, and the Senate.
The U.S. Senate is currently a 50-50 Democrat-Republican split after five Senate seats previously occupied by Republicans were won by Democrats. The most notable of these changes came in Georgia, where a unique runoff election held in January ousted two Republican incumbents and brought the chamber to a tie. Vice President Kamala Harris serves as president of the Senate, and she will be the tie-breaking vote in the chamber, giving Democrats control. While Democrats now have control of the Senate, the Republicans will still be able to use the filibuster, which in effect requires Senate legislation to have 60 votes to pass, and not just a simple majority. Senator Charles Schumer of New York will be Senate majority leader for the next two years.
In the House of Representatives, Democrats retained control through the election, but their majority shrunk by 10 seats. Democrats now hold a slim 222 to 213 majority. Representative Nancy Pelosi of California will continue her leadership as speaker of the House during the 117th Congress.
New Members of Congress Bring Diversity
After the recent elections, there are a total of 60 new U.S. representatives and seven new senators. Of the new members of Congress, 18 are Democrats and 49 are Republicans. There are now 118 women in the House of Representatives, the most in U.S. history. Black representation Congress is at an all-time high, with 58 representatives in the House and two senators. Additionally, Representatives Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones, both from New York, are the first Black men in Congress who identify as gay. There is also a record of members of Congress (45) who are Latinos; 39 in the House and six in the Senate. Newly-elected Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina is the first member of Congress to be born in the 1990s. At 25, Rep. Cawthorn is the youngest member of Congress.