Will a New Congress Shake Up The Political Agenda?
By: Olivia Frasca
The 2018 midterm elections were historic to say the least. 435 seats in the House and one third of the seats in the Senate were up for grabs. Voter turnout was roughly 49.3%, a level that hasn’t been reached in a midterm election since the 1960s, according to Vox.
High voter turnout wasn’t the only reason this election was considered historic. The 116th Congress will be the most diverse yet. Jared Polis was elected to be the first openly gay governor in Colorado.
Ilhan Omar won Minnesota’s 5th district, and Rashida Tlaib won Michigan’s 13th district. They will be the first Muslim women to enter Congress.
In New Mexico’s 1st district, Debra Haaland won. Sharice Davids also won Kansas’ 3rd district. Haaland and Davids will be the first Native American women in Congress. Joe Neguse will be the first African American from Colorado to be elected to the House too, reported Vox.
The midterm elections were a victory for women, too. As of now, 107 women serve in Congress. In January, more women will be serving in Congress than ever before.
In the Arizona Senate race, women ran in both major parties; Kyrsten Sinema, a moderate Democrat, won the seat. Kristi Noem was elected the first woman governor of South Dakota, and Michelle Lujan Grisham became New Mexico’s first Democratic Latina governor.
Democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won New York’s 14th district by 78%, Vox reported. The district includes parts of the Bronx and Queens. At 29, she is the youngest woman to be elected to Congress.
Ayanna Pressley is the first African American woman to be elected to Congress from Massachusetts. Pressley ran uncontested in the 7th district.
Several veterans, women and men, were elected too. Mikie Sherrill, a former US Navy pilot and lawyer, will represent New Jersey’s 11th district. Dan Crenshaw, a retired Lieutenant Commander, was elected to represent Texas’ 2nd district.
On Staten Island and south Brooklyn, Max Rose flipped New York’s 11th district from red to blue. The 31-year old Democrat served as an active duty officer in Afghanistan. Rose won 52% of the election and defeated Republican incumbent Dan Donovan.
Rose’s campaign focused on ending gun violence, lowering healthcare costs, and reforming taxes for the working and middle class. On a more local level, Rose has promised to tackle the opioid crisis, improve public schools, and pass an infrastructure bill that will improve Staten Island transportation, as outlined on his official website.
The Staten Island veteran will use his House seat to fight corporate interests in Washington. After his military service, he worked in several public service positions, including as Chief of Staff for a non-profit healthcare organization and as a special assistant to a Brooklyn DA.
In New York City, Democrats won all House districts in this election.
As expected, incumbent Andrew Cuomo and Kathy Hochul won the election for Governor and Lieutenant Governor of New York. Kirsten Gillibrand will be rejoining the Senate.
The Democrats have gained control of the House with 232 seats, while Republicans hold 199 seats. The GOP makes up for this loss in the Senate, where Republicans have 52 seats and Democrats have 47 seats.
In order for a bill to pass, it must be approved by a majority in the House and Senate. The elected Democratic House and GOP Senate may change the lawmaking process, as Congress is currently dominated by the Republican Party.
The House cannot stop any Presidential appointments, such as Supreme Court nominations. Such appointments are approved by the Senate. The House can conduct investigations, and the Democrats will likely use this power to investigate the Trump administration.
The 2018 historic midterm elections gave power to both major parties. Members of the 116th Congress will take office on January 3rd, 2019. Election season may be over, but changes in Washington are just getting started.