A record number of women have been elected to Congress this year—but just barely. In the 118th Congress, there will be 149 women serving in the US House and Senate, which is a two-member increase over the previous record set by this Congress.
When Alaska decided on Wednesday night that Rep. Mary Peltola, a Democrat, will represent the state’s at-large House seat for a full term after winning the special election earlier this year, while Sen. Lisa Murkowski will win reelection, the state carried women over that threshold.
With 124 women taking office in the House in January, a record number of women will be broken.
And not only will the 118th Congress see record numbers of women of color, but there will also be a record number of Latinas and Black women in the House alone. The number of Black women in the House will increase from 26 to 27, and there will be one more Latina, for a total of 18 – the highest number ever.
With 22 freshman women in the House, more than half of that group will be women of color, demonstrating the growing diversity of that body.
One of those fresh voices entering the House is California‘s newly elected representative Sydney Kamlager. She was chosen to serve as a state senator in place of retiring Rep. Karen Bass, who will go on to lead Los Angeles as the city’s first female mayor. While Kamlager expressed excitement about the diversity of the freshman class, she acknowledged that more work remains.
Yadira Caraveo, a Democrat, is the first Latina from Colorado to be elected to Congress. She will be only the second female doctor to serve as a voting member of Congress in addition to being a state lawmaker and the daughter of Mexican immigrants. (In Washington State, the first candidate, Democratic Rep. Kim Schrier, was re-elected.)
Republicans will set a record by electing 42 women to Congress, breaking the record set by their Democratic counterparts. There are now nine Republican women in the Senate thanks to Murkowski and Republican Sen.-elect Katie Britt of Alabama. The number of Republican women serving in the House will increase to 33 in 2019 from 32 in 2018.
Three Latinas are among the seven new House Republican freshmen, so there are now a total of five Republican Latinas in the House.