November 10, 2020
AJC is a non-partisan organization that neither supports nor endorses candidates for elective office.
The 2020 election was unprecedented in many ways. Voter turnout reached its highest rate in more than a century, every campaign fundraising and spending record was shattered, and a record-breaking number of women candidates ran for federal office, including an all-time high of women running within the Republican Party. Two days before the election, more than 100 million votes had already been cast by mail, absentee ballot, or in early voting – roughly 70 percent of the total cast in the 2016 elections.
Those who believed that such high voter turnout would signal a blue wave were proven incorrect, judging by the congressional results. While the Senate majority might remain Republican, under the helm of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who defeated his challenger Amy McGrath, the status of a number of Senate seats is still unknown. While Mark Kelly did succeed in beating Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) and former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper defeated incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), they were the outlying Democratic wins. Democratic Senate hopefuls, including Jaime Harrison in South Carolina, former Gov. Steve Bullock in Montana, and Cal Cunningham in North Carolina, along with Jewish candidate Al Gross in Alaska, all lost their bids. Alabama Democratic incumbent Sen. Doug Jones in Alabama lost his bid for reelection. Democratic incumbent Sen. Gary Peters narrowly fended off his Republican challenger John James in Michigan in a race that was far more competitive than pollsters predicted. It is worth noting that the fundraising of a number of these Democrats trounced that of their Republican opponents. Democratic candidates and groups spent $6.9 billion, compared to $3.8 billion for Republicans. Even excluding funds from billionaire candidates Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer, Democrats spent $5.5 billion.
In the House, Democrats had expected to flip between five and fifteen seats to strengthen their majority. Rather, Republicans knocked out at least seven Democrats, mostly but not exclusively first-term moderates, giving them an early net gain of seats. Democratic control of the House, though diminished, will continue. If there is a Republican majority in the Senate, regardless of the outcome of the Presidential race, the American people can be assured of some degree of gridlock.
Issues to Watch
With the covid-19 pandemic continuing to rage on, issues related to the pandemic and its impacts will likely be the top priority for congressional lawmakers. Having been unable to pass an additional coronavirus stimulus before the election, lawmakers will likely look to pass a relief bill in short order now that reelection concerns and most unknowns related to party breakdown have been revealed. It is likely that a covid relief package will be passed during the lame duck session. There is still uncertainty surrounding a number of Senate seats; at the moment, pending election results, neither party holds the majority. If this Congress fails to pass a relief package Democrats take control of the Senate for the 117th Congress,such a package might include funding for enhanced unemployment payments, relief to state and local governments, additional money for education and childcare, and rental and mortgage assistance. Whatever measure passed during this Congress will likely be more limited.
Certainly, issues related to the broader economic and health care debates are also likely to dominate the focus of the newly elected Congress. Other top issues include immigration reform, including the fate of the DREAMERs, the border wall, and the Muslim travel ban; criminal justice reform, including measures related to policing and the question of domestic terrorism; and tax reform, including the potential reversal of some tax cuts and other changes adopted during the 115th Congress.
Foreign Policy in the 117th Congress
There’s no reason to expect any major shake-ups in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The committee make-up is expected to remain largely stable as Senator Cory Gardner was the only member to lose his bid for reelection and the partisan split in the Senate, which determines how many members of each party sit on committees, has remained essentially static. Senator Jim Risch of Idaho, who served as chairman of the committee last Congress, is poised to remain chairman, and Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey is expected to remain ranking member. Risch has not been active on AJC’s priority issues but consistently votes in support of AJC’s top legislative priorities when they come to the floor. Menendez has been a champion on issues related to strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship and on combating the threat posed by Iran. He opposed the JCPOA, supported moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and continues to oppose the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement through legislation. It is also worth noting that should Biden win the presidency, two members of the committee, Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Chris Coons of Delaware, are considered top contenders for the position of Secretary of State, along with former UN Ambassador Susan Rice.
Unlike in the Senate, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will experience a transition as Rep. Eliot Engel, the chairman of the committee, and a steadfast ally of Israel, lost his bid for reelection in the June Democratic primary in New York (more on his congressional legacy below). Top contenders for the chairmanship are Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York, Brad Sherman of California, and Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas. The priorities of the committee could shift depending on who takes the gavel.
Representative Meeks is seen as a top contender for the job and has been endorsed for the position by the Congressional Black Caucus. After some questions about whether Meeks would support conditioning of aid to Israel, during an AJC Advocacy Anywhere online webinar in August, Meeks reaffirmed his commitment to Israel’s security and discussed the paramount importance of the $3.8 billion military assistance the U.S. provides the Jewish state. As chair, he is considered likely to rebalance the agenda of the committee to focus more of its energies on the Western hemisphere, given his demonstrated interest in Latin American affairs. Should he ascend to the chairmanship, Meeks would be the first African American to hold the job.
Rep. Sherman, who is next in line by seniority, has been playing up his solidly Democratic voting record so as to not be flanked from the left for the chairmanship. Sherman, who is Jewish, has been a staunch supporter of the U.S.-Israel relationship, and would likely increase the committee’s focus on China, climate change, and issues related to U.S. military engagement. While he did not support the initial passage of the JCPOA, he opposed efforts to weaken it, once passed. He has been on the committee for 24 years, has served as a chairman or ranking member on one of the foreign affairs subcommittees for 17 years, and has experience serving on all six subcommittees at one time or another.
Rep. Castro, who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, is the most junior contender, but he has spent his time in Congress trying to build his foreign policy credentials. He chairs the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and sits on the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, and Trade. He has sought to position himself as the most progressive candidate for the chairmanship, and would be the first Mexican-American to lead the panel. In terms of AJC issues, he favors conditioning aid to Israel, has been vocal about the need for the committee to hear more Palestinian voices, and supported the JCPOA. He’s also taken a more dovish stance to foreign policy overall, saying the U.S. should reduce its reliance on sanctions as a foreign policy tool and has called for the U.S. to refrain from “wars of choice.” Like Congressman Meeks, he is also committed to putting greater focus on the Western Hemisphere should he become chair.
Both Meeks and Castro can be expected to work to ensure increased U.S. funding to Latin America to strengthen institutions, fight corruption and organized crime, and promote economic development. Congressional focus on Latin America yields a range of political consequences; it was notable that the election highlighted differences within Latino communities, with both Reps. Donna Shalala (D-FL) and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL) being defeated by Latino Republicans, Maria Elvira Salazar and Carlos Gimenez, respectively, at least in part because the constituency considered the Democratic Party soft on Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.
The Issue of Israel in the 117th
Despite consistent and overwhelming bipartisan support for Israel in the House and Senate, there are members who take positions critical of the Jewish state, including backing the so-called Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, or BDS. In 2019, a non-binding resolution condemning BDS was passed in the House by a vote of 298-17. The 17 members, 16 Democrats and one Republican, who voted against the resolution will all be returning to Congress next year.
Among the most vocal critics of Israel are members of the so-called “Squad,” including BDS supporters Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN). The Squad gained a few members in the election including Democrats Cori Bush in Missouri and Marie Newman in Illinois who have both expressed pro-BDS views. While Bush removed the page from her website, she did have a section of her campaign site which expressed support for the movement. It stated, “In these times, it is important to be specific with our language and direct in the actions we take. In our current geopolitical economy, money talks far louder than speech alone…. This is why nonviolent actions like the BDS movement are so important – and why the effort to mischaracterize and demonize the BDS movement by its opponents is so urgent.” Newman’s campaign website stated, “I support the right of the Palestinian people and their supporters to use non-violent means to oppose the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza, including the first amendment right to pursue the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign.” How the Democratic Party approaches its left flank is likely to remain a hot topic in the new Congress.
Antisemitism and hate in campaigns
During this election cycle, antisemitism, bigotry, and hatred found its way into campaigns in both subtle and overt ways. It started at the top and permeated down throughout races in the Senate and House.
In the race for the Senate, there were instances of antisemitism in campaign materials. In the Georgia race between Republican Senator David Perdue and Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff, a digital attack ad showed a picture of Ossoff, who is Jewish, with an enlarged nose, claiming that he was working collaboratively with Senator Chuck Schumer (also Jewish) and stating, “Democrats are trying to buy Georgia!” Perdue quickly distanced himself from the ad and stopped running it. However, he did not heed calls for a formal apology and demands that he fire the vendor responsible for creating the content.
In Michigan, there were also accusations of antisemitism against Republican African American candidate John James. In a radio interview, when James was asked about the Democratic Party’s advantage among Black voters, he responded, “neither party works for our vote,” and they should, “treat us the way they’re genuflecting for working-class white males and for college-educated women and for our Jewish friends.” While James has openly called for the Republican Party to repudiate racism, antisemitism, and all forms of hatred, his interview comments raised eyebrows and were condemned by the Michigan Democratic Jewish Caucus.
In Alaska, a digital ad run by Senator Dan Sullivan against his opponent Al Gross, who is Jewish, showed an illustration of him fanning out stacks of $100 bills with a sinister-looking Senator Chuck Schumer lurking behind him in the shadows.
Campaigns for the House also saw their fair share of controversy as well. Among the most notable were:
- Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican who won in Georgia’s 14th district, embraced and then distanced herself from QAnon conspiracy theories, has said that Muslims don’t belong in government, and created an ad in which she brandished a weapon and threatened Antifa protesters. In addition, she posted a video on Twitter in which she claimed, “The fake news media hates me. Big Tech censors me. The DC Swamp fears me. And George Soros and the Democrats are trying to take me down.” Invoking the name of George Soros is often a coded way to imply that Jewish money is being used in a nefarious way. She also noted that inequalities experienced among Black and Latino men in this country are a result of their “being in gangs and dealing drugs.”
- Lauren Boebert, another so-called “QAnon candidate,” secured Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District seat. She said she was “very familiar” with QAnon and though it is “more my mom’s thing,” she said she “hoped ‘Q’ is real” on a YouTube show in May. After she upset the incumbent in the Republican primary, Boebert changed her tone, saying she was not a follower of the movement.
- Burgess Owens, a Black Republican candidate in Utah, came under some fire for saying in a radio interview that QAnon “may have merit” for drawing attention to child trafficking. Owen’s race is still undecided.
- Laura Loomer, a Republican who lost her race against Lois Frankel in Florida’s 21st district, is Jewish and a self-proclaimed, proud “Islamophobe.” In this heavily Jewish district, Loomer tried to weaponize her religion by saying that the Jewish community could choose between “a Republican Jew who is going to advocate for their survival in their best interests, or they can stand with self-hating Jew Lois Frankel, who is doing the bidding for the jihadists in the Democrat Party who are just literally walking Jews to the gas chamber.” Loomer also ran an attack ad against Frankel using Yiddish words that many within the Jewish community found bizarre, if not outright offensive.
- At an AJC debate between candidates running for TX-32, incumbent African American Congressman Colin Allred accused challenger Genevieve Collins of darkening his skin tone in mailers. The Collins campaign denied the charge and Allred maintained his seat.
- Adam Schiff’s failed Republican opponent Eric Early took to Twitter to claim that Schiff is related to George Soros, a claim without a shred of truth, but made in an attempt to highlight Schiff’s Jewish background and imply that secret Jewish money was funding his campaign. For his part, Schiff didn’t just call out Early’s attack as antisemitic, he also raised the broader issue of veiled antisemitic attacks from sitting members of Congress. He specifically highlighted House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy’s tweet in 2018 that said, “We cannot allow Soros, Steyer and Bloomberg to BUY this election!” referring to the perceived religious beliefs of three prominent Democrats. McCarthy has since deleted this tweet and explained that it was not motivated by religious animus but rather conflict between political parties.
- While he did not face a congressional challenger, Democratic Congressman Jim Clyburn raised some eyebrows in March 2020 when he compared the U.S. under President Trump to Germany under Hitler in the 1930s, saying, "I used to wonder how could the people of Germany allow Hitler to exist. But with each passing day, I'm beginning to understand how. And that's why I'm trying to sound the alarm." He went on to explain that he saw parallels between the Republican Party’s coalescence around Trump with the way Nazis allowed Hitler to rise to power.
- Madison Cawthorn won Mark Meadows's old U.S. House seat representing Western North Carolina. The twenty-five-year-old got defensive during the campaign after his 2017 Instagram post surfaced. The travel post showed him visiting Adolf Hitler's vacation house. The caption referred to Hitler as “the Fuhrer” and said seeing the “Eagle’s Nest” had been on his “bucket list for awhile” and “did not disappoint.”
Israel also came into play in many races around the country. In some districts the question was which candidate would be better for Israel, with opposing candidates offering competing notions of what it means to be “pro-Israel.” In other races, the debate centered on what America’s policy should be toward Israel, in many cases calling for a reassessment of longstanding U.S. policy. This call to reevaluate the U.S.-Israel relationship has been more pronounced within the Democratic Party, with more “establishment” Democrats pitted against more “progressive” Democrats, the latter often asserting that the U.S. should take what some would call a more “even-handed” approach, a less overtly pro-Israel position.
On Long Island, two Jewish candidates battled it out for the seat in NY-1, and their positions on Israel were a major divergence. Congressman Lee Zeldin, one of Congress’s two Jewish Republicans held on to his seat in a matchup against political newcomer Nancy Goroff. Zeldin, an avid Trump supporter, has been highly visible on issues related to Israel and the Jewish community. As the Jerusalem Report noted, “The [Republican P]arty has made Zeldin its lead congressional spokesman on Israel issues,” and “Zeldin is ubiquitous on the right-wing Jewish circuit.” He supported the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem, U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and the “Peace to Prosperity Plan,” and has repeatedly referred to Israel as the “greatest ally” of the U.S. Challenger Nancy Goroff has a very different view of the pro-Israel landscape. Backed by J Street, Goroff supports the idea of Jerusalem as a shared capital, supports an “end to Israeli occupation,” and opposes settlement expansion.
When progressive candidate Jamaal Bowman defeated pro-Israel stalwart Eliot Engel in the NY-16 primary, many within this heavily Jewish district wondered what it would mean for their district’s support for Israel in Congress. Having been endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who are both critics of certain Israeli government policies, many worried that Bowman would be hostile toward the Jewish state. Bowman addressed their concerns in an open letter printed in a local newspaper saying, “I believe firmly in the right of Israelis to live in safety and peace, free from the fear of violence and terrorism from Hamas and other extremists, and support continued U.S. aid to help Israel confront these security challenges. I also believe that Palestinians are entitled to the same human rights, safety from violence and self-determination in a state of their own.” He went on to state his opposition to BDS, and his commitment to listening to the concerns of his constituents on this issue.
The Makeup of the 117th Congress
The 117th Congress will be missing some longtime AJC friends and partners. Sixteen-term Congresswoman and chair of the powerful Appropriations Committee Nita Lowey (D-NY) retired and leaves behind an unparalleled legacy. Lowey was a co-founder of the House Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism, a group devoted to shining a light on the continued prevalence of antisemitism and fighting it with education, engagement, and action. She spearheaded crucial legislative efforts to support Israel and bring greater peace and prosperity to the Middle East. In the 116th Congress, Rep. Lowey introduced the Partnership Fund for Peace Act, an AJC legislative priority, that seeks to enhance collaboration between Israeli and Palestinian businesses and improve people-to-people programs to promote dialogue, community-building, and reconciliation. She used her position as chair of the Appropriations Committee to ensure the passage of crucial aid to Israel and sponsored literally hundreds of bills of importance to the Jewish people and the Jewish state – in addition to being a steadfast advocate of adequate resources for U.S. diplomacy and foreign aid, education assistance, public broadcasting, health care reform, and other causes. AJC has long recognized her indispensable role in the House and honored her with our Congressional Leadership Award in 2007. While AJC is fortunate to have many allies on the Hill, Congresswoman Lowey is irreplaceable.
As previously mentioned, Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), outgoing chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, will also not be returning to Congress after a long and distinguished career. Just last year, AJC bestowed upon him the AJC Congressional Leadership Award for his abiding dedication to promoting U.S. leadership in the world, for being a stalwart supporter of Israel, and for being a force for good for the Jewish people. It wasn’t the first time AJC recognized Engel for his leadership on behalf of the Jewish people; in 2009 AJC’s Belfer Institute for Latino and Latin American Affairs awarded Engel the Gesher Award for building bridges between the Jewish and Latino communities. During his 32 years in Congress, he was perhaps best known for his staunch support of Israel, his efforts to halt ethnic cleansing in Kosovo in the late 1990s, his opposition to the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus, his work to aid the Northern Ireland peace process, and his tireless efforts to combat antisemitism in all its forms. Like Lowey, he was a founding member of the House Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism, and from his influential position as Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee he fought Iran’s malign influence, worked to counter BDS, and played an unparalleled role in steering U.S. policy in the Middle East.
Both Lowey and Engel are difficult losses, not just because they so adeptly fought for the Jewish people, but because throughout their careers they have exemplified Jewish values by fighting for the rights and dignity of all people around the world.
Another big loss for AJC is the retirement of Will Hurd (R-TX), a founding member of the Congressional Black-Jewish Caucus, which was launched at AJC’s 2019 Global Forum. Hurd also served as Co-Chair of the Latino-Jewish Caucus, which aims to counter the rise of antisemitism and hate crimes, and to address issues of immigration and U.S. policy in the Western Hemisphere with which AJC is intimately involved. Hurd has been supportive of key AJC advocacy priorities, serving as a cosponsor of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Act and the NO HATE Act, and has been an all-too-rare voice for bipartisanship. AJC is grateful for all Congressman Hurd has done for our community, our Congress, and our nation; his leadership will be missed.
Similarly, we offer a mournful goodbye to Congressman Pete Olson (R-TX), who is retiring after six terms in the House. Olson was the Republican sponsor of a piece of signature AJC legislation, the NO HATE Act, which seeks to improve hate crimes reporting. He was also a consistent voice and vote for Israel in Congress.
Jewish Leadership in Congress
Jewish incumbents will retain significant clout in both chambers of Congress:
In the Senate:
- Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will be the Senate Minority Leader
- Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has the potential to remain Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, although some doubts have been raised after the contentious hearing over then-Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, which will only be heightened should President Trump win reelection with a Republican-controlled Senate
- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will likely be Ranking Member of the Budget Committee; news outlets have reported that Sanders has been angling for a cabinet position should Vice President Biden win the presidency, and while it’s difficult to predict who would be tapped to join the administration, it seems more likely that he would remain in the Senate
- Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) will be Ranking Member of the Finance Committee
- Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) will be Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women's Issues on the Foreign Relations Committee
In the House:
- Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) will continue as Chair of the Committee on the Judiciary
- Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) will continue as Chair of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
- Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) will continue as Chair of the Budget Committee
- Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) will continue as Chair of the Ethics Committee and as Chair of the Middle East, North Africa, and International Terrorism Subcommittee of the Committee on Foreign Affairs
- Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) is in contention to become Chair of the Committee on Appropriations; if she does not ascend to leadership of the full committee, she will remain Chair of a Subcommittee, potentially continuing on as Chair of Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Subcommittee
- Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) will continue as Chair of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties on the Committee on Oversight and Reform
- Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) will continue as Ranking Member of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the Committee on Foreign Affairs
- Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), Chair of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship and Capital Markets, is in the running to chair the Committee on Foreign Affairs
During the 117th Congress, Jews will make up 6% of the U.S. House and Senate (roughly the same as during the 116th Congress) – a significant number considering Jews account for roughly 2 percent of the total U.S. population. (Jews will account for 5.7 percent of the House and 9 percent of the Senate.) AJC is delighted to welcome freshmen Jewish House members Sara Jacobs (D-CA-53) and Kathy Manning (D-NC-6) who will be joining the 117th Congress, set to commence on January 3, 2021. There will not be any new Jewish members of the Senate. In addition to Rep. Lowey, who is retiring, and Rep. Engel, who lost a primary battle with now-incoming Rep. Jamaal Bowman, Rep. Max Rose (D-NY-11) who lost his seat to Republican candidate Nicole Malliotakis, will be departing.
This past election cycle, 44 Jewish candidates ran for the U.S. House of Representatives. During this campaign year, several races saw two Jewish candidates pitted against one another: Rep. Lois Frankel vs. Laura Loomer, Rep. Jerry Nadler vs. Cathy Bernstein, Rep. Adam Schiff vs. Eric Early, Rep. Susan Wild vs. Lisa Scheller, and Rep. Lee Zeldin vs. Nancy Goroff.
Although Jewish challengers were all over the ideological spectrum, those who saw success on Tuesday were Democrats. Reps. Lee Zeldin (R-NY-1) and David Kustoff (R-TN-8), the only two Jewish Republican members of Congress, both won their bids for reelection.
In January, there will be eight Democratic Jewish Senators and one Independent (Sen. Sanders, who caucuses with the Democrats), the same as in the 116th Congress. Incumbents include: Senators Michael Bennet, Richard Blumenthal, Ben Cardin, Dianne Feinstein, Jacky Rosen, Bernie Sanders, Brian Schatz, Chuck Schumer, and Ron Wyden. A full list of Jewish members in the 117th Congress, incumbents and freshmen, is below.
A Senate runoff scheduled for January 5, 2021 will take place between Republican incumbent Senator David Perdue and Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff. Ossoff, should he win, would be the only Jewish Senator to join the 117th Congress.
This number does not include members of Congress who have Jewish spouses and/or children, such as incoming Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-GA-7), who has a Jewish husband and child.
Diversity in Congress
While this year’s electoral candidate pool was the most diverse in U.S. history, the 117th Congress will only be slightly more diverse than the prior Congress. The makeup of the 116th Congress was approximately 78% white, despite the fact that people of color make up 39% of the nation’s population. (While the candidate pool may represent a higher percentage of minority populations, incumbency reelection rates are high and open seats have tended to be filled by someone who “looks” like the former representative who served in the district.)
Black Members of Congress
This year’s election cycle saw numerous Black candidates running for political office; in particular, a large number of Black women. During the 116th Congress there were 55 Black members of Congress: 52 in the House and three in the Senate. Of the 55 members, there were two Republicans – Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), who is up for reelection in 2022, and Representative Will Hurd (R-TX), who is retiring at the end of the year.
One confirmed Black GOP candidate who will join the 117th Congress is Byron Donalds (R-FL-19). GOP nominee Burgess Owens (R-UT-4) may be an additional Black Republican joining the House – he is slightly ahead of Ben McAdams as of this writing. Some of the incoming Black Democrats who are joining Congress include: Reps. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY-16), Cori Bush (D-MO-1), Mondaire Jones (D-NY-17), and Ritchie Torres (D-15-NY). Raphael Warnock, a Black Democratic candidate who ran in Georgia’s special election for Senate, has advanced to the run-off election, which will take place on January 5, 2021. He will face off against the Republican incumbent, Senator Kelly Loeffler.
Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres will be the first two openly gay Black members of Congress.
Latino Members of Congress
Latinos make up 18% of the nation’s population, yet are vastly underrepresented in Congress. In the 116th Congress, 39 members were Latino, with 35 in the House and four in the Senate. Some of the new Latino members of the U.S. House include: Reps. Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-NM-3), the first Latina to represent her district; Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL-27), who unseated Rep. Donna Shalala in the seat previously long-held by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen; and Ritchie Torres (D-15-NY), mentioned above, who is an Afro-Latino of Puerto Rican descent. There is one new Latino Senator joining the 117th Congress: Ben Ray Luján, who has represented New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District in the House since 2009, will join the Senate representing New Mexico.
Muslim Members of Congress
There are currently three members of the U.S. Congress who identify as Muslim – Reps. André Carson (D-IN), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).
Women in Congress
A record number of women ran for the U.S. House of Representatives (583) and the U.S. Senate (60) this cycle. Of this number, at least 248 women candidates identified as women of color, including Cori Bush, who defeated long-time incumbent Rep. William Lacy Clay in the Democratic primary for Missouri’s 1st Congressional District. While there was a large jump in the number of women voters in 2018, much of this shift was led by Democratic women. In contrast, Republican women were responsible for the large increase in women candidates during this year’s election cycle, particularly in the U.S. House. Despite these gains, as of the 116th Congress, women were still underrepresented in Congress, making up 24% of Congress while accounting for 51% of the total population. It’s also worth noting that while the number of women candidates overall grew, there weren’t large gains in the total number of women being represented in Congress in large part because many races saw one woman competing against another.
Incoming Freshmen - Project Interchange (PI) Alumni
While PI alumni Reps. Donna Shalala and William Lacy Clay were defeated, the 117th Congress will include 22 PI alumni, including newly elected Rep. Tracey Mann (R-KS-1) and Carlos Giménez (R-FL-26). Additionally, former Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX-17), another PI alumnus, will return to Congress.
Jewish members of 117th Congress
Michael Bennet (D-CO)
Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
Ben Cardin (D-MD)
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Jacky Rosen (D-NV)
Brian Schatz (D-HI)
Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
Ron Wyden (D-OR)
House of Representatives
David Cicilline (D-RI)
Steve Cohen (D-TN)
Ted Deutch (D-FL)
Lois Frankel (D-FL)
Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ)
Sara Jacobs (D-CA-53)*
David Kustoff (R-TN)
Andy Levin (D-MI)
Mike Levin (D-CA)
Alan Lowenthal (D-CA)
Elaine Luria (D-VA)
Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)
Dean Phillips (D-MN)
Kathy Manning (D-NC-6)*
Jamie Raskin (D-MD)
Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
Adam Schiff (D-CA)
Brad Schneider (D-IL)
Kim Schrier (D-WA)
Brad Sherman (D-CA)
Elissa Slotkin (D-MI)
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)
Susan Wild (D-PA)
John Yarmuth (D-KY)
Lee Zeldin (R-NY)
This analysis was written by Jason Isaacson, Julie Rayman, Lindsey Eilon, and Jackie Subar.