Peninsula Daily News
and The Associated Press
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Politically, the 213th Congress that was sworn in today won't be much of a change from 212th Congress it replaces:
Democrats picked up a few seats in the House and Senate, but the balance of power is unchanged, with Republicans controlling the House and Democrats holding a majority in the Senate.
Yet a closer look finds that Congress is undergoing some of the changes that have altered the face of America in general, with women and minorities playing increasingly more prominent roles.
Here's a breakdown.
The House has 233 Republicans and 200 Democrats. Each party should pick up one mo
re seat when two vacancies are filled. Going into the election, the GOP edge was 242-193. Senate Democrats will have a caucus of 55, including two independents, Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Republicans have 45. That's a pickup of two seats for Democrats.
The House will have 79 women, including 60 Democrats. At the end of the last session, there were 50 Democratic women and 24 Republican women.
The new Senate will have 20 women members, an increase of three. That consists of 16 Democrats and four Republicans.
The last Senate had 12 Democratic women and five Republicans.
With two vacancies to be filled, the House has 82 freshmen; 47 Democrats and 35 Republicans. As of the end of the last session, 87 of 103 freshmen were Republicans.
The Senate will include 14 new faces, with nine Democrats and the independent King. Five are women.
New senators include Brian Schatz, who was sworn in on Dec. 27 to fill the seat of the late Hawaii Democrat Daniel Inouye.
The House will have 40 African Americans, all Democrats. The number of Democrats is unchanged, although two Republicans will be gone:
Allen West, R-Fla., lost his re-election bid, and Tim Scott, R-S.C., was appointed to fill the Senate seat of Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who is retiring. Scott will be the first black lawmaker in the Senate since Roland Burris, who retired in 2010 after filling the Illinois Senate seat of Barack Obama for almost two years.
The new House will have 33 Hispanics, with 25 Democrats and eight Republicans. That's up slightly from last year.
The Senate will have three Hispanics: Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Republican Marco Rubio of Florida and Republican freshman Ted Cruz of Texas.
The new House will have nine Asian Americans, all Democrats. There are two Native Americans: Tom Cole, R-Okla., and Ben Lujan, D-N.M.
According to CQ Roll Call newspaper, the average age of House members in the 113th Congress is 57; the average age of senators is 62. It estimates that the House will include some 277 Protestants and Catholics, 22 Jews, two Muslims and two Buddhists.
The Senate will have 80 Protestants and Catholics and 10 Jews.
The House will have its first Hindu, Rep.Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii. Senate freshman Mazie Hirono, also of Hawaii, will be the Senate's only Buddhist.
Also for the first time, white men will be a minority among House Democrats.
The Ohio lawmaker won a second, two-year term as leader with 220 votes, losing just a handful of votes in the Republican-controlled chamber.
The election of the speaker came as the House and Senate ushered in a new Congress today.
The 113th Congress convened at noon Washington, D.C., time (9 a.m. PST), the constitutionally mandated time, with pomp, pageantry — and of course, politics — on both sides of the Capitol.
In the Senate, Vice President Joe Biden swore in 12 new members elected in November, lawmakers who won another term and South Carolina Republican Tim Scott. The former House member was tapped by Gov. Nikki Haley to fill the remaining term of Sen. Jim DeMint, who resigned to head a Washington think tank.
Applause from members and the gallery marked every oath-taking. Looking on was former Vice President Walter Mondale.
In the House, Boehner swore in the lawmakers in the afternoon, including freshman Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, the 39-year-old Port Angeles native who succeeds Norm Dicks as 6th Congressional District representative. Dicks did not seek re-election after holding a congressional seat since 1977.
Addressing the 80-plus new members, Boehner told them that if they came “to see your name in lights or to pass off political victory as accomplishment, you have come to the wrong place. The door is behind you.”
“If you have come here humbled by the opportunity to serve; if you have come here to be the determined voice of the people; if you have come here to carry the standard of leadership demanded not just by our constituents but by the times, then you have come to the right place,” he said.