The 2018 election was the beginning of a progressive movement shaking up Congress. The outcome of it resulted in more than 100 women serving in the House of Representatives, a historic number. Throughout this last congressional term, four of the newly elected women have attracted a lot of attention: “The Squad,” a group attacked by the president and the right. Despite the attention — good and bad — they frequently receive, Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) are just the nucleus of a burgeoning progressive movement in the House.
In addition to nudging the Democratic party to take more progressive positions, they’ve frequently been the targets of right-wing attacks, whether death threats or misogynistic insults. The president attacked them in the middle of a presidential debate during this campaign, an echo of how he went after them in 2019.
“Despite the occupant of the White House’s attempts to marginalize us and to silence us, please know that we are more than four people. We ran on a mandate to advocate for and to represent those ignored, left out, and left behind,” Rep. Pressley said at a press conference following the president’s 2019 attacks. “Our squad is big. Our squad includes any person committed to building a more equitable and just world. And that is the work that we want to get back to. And given the size of this squad in this great nation, we cannot, we will not, be silenced.”
These progressives represent a more diverse future, perhaps scaring those who have benefitted from their exclusion. As the 2020 elections are showing us, the future is here and the Squad is just the beginning. As several of these well-known progressives are projected to head back to Congress, they’re set to be joined by other lawmakers beginning their second terms — and some new and exciting voices. Here are just a few of the lawmakers who could be making waves in the next Congress.
The Original Squad
Representative Omar is a Somali-American refugee who came to the United States 25 years ago. She made history in 2018 when she became the first Black Muslim woman, and first hijab-wearing woman elected to Congress. Prior to her win in Minnesota’s 5th district, Omar had already made history when, in 2016, she became the first Somali-American elected to the Minnesota state legislature.
After comfortably winning her Democratic primary in August, the AP and CNN projected she would be victorious again in the general election for Minnesota’s 5th district against Republican Lacy Johnson.
“We are building a movement that sees my struggle as inherently tied to your struggle, and sees a world where all workers can be uplifted. Together,” Omar wrote on Twitter Tuesday night. “Today’s vote – the results of this election – are not the end. This is just the beginning.”
When she was 29 years old, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), also known as AOC, made history when she became the youngest woman to ever be elected to the United States House of Representatives. Representing New York’s 14th District after defeating a 10-term incumbent, she’s had a significant impact on the conversations happening in Washington.
“Serving NY-14 and fighting for working-class families in Congress has been the greatest honor, privilege, & responsibility of my life,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter Tuesday. “Thank you to the Bronx & Queens for re-electing me to the House despite the millions spent against us, & trusting me to represent you once more.”
With her 2018 win, Representative Pressley became the first Black woman to represent Massachusetts in the House of Representatives. Pressley beat a 10-term incumbent to win the primary, before going on to run unopposed in that November election. She promotes Medicare-for-all, abolishing Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), raising the minimum wage, and defunding the police.
Pressley was unopposed in her Democratic primary for Massachusetts’s 7th district. The AP and CNN projected her victory Tuesday.
“Together, we have fought for our shared humanity. We have organized. We have mobilized. We have legislated our values. I am so proud to be your Congresswoman & your partner in the work,” she wrote on Twitter Tuesday. “I believe in the power of us. And we’re just getting started.”
In 2018, Representative Tlaib became the first Palestinian-American woman elected to serve in Congress and quickly made waves when she said, “we’re going to impeach the motherf*cker,” the day she was sworn in. She and Omar are the first Muslim women to be elected to serve in Congress. Since her election, Tlaib has challenged Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in his testimony last year to Congress, led the push for Trump’s impeachment after the release of the Mueller report, and worked to pass environmental justice amendments.
In the 2020 primary for the 13th district, Tlaib defeated the same opponent she bested in the district’s 2018 primary contest — and by a much wider margin. AP and CNN have projected her reelection.
Representative Deb Haaland (D-NM) became one of the first two Native American women to serve in Congress when she won in 2018. Haaland, an important voice in the fights for Indigenous causes including the environment and sacred sites, is committed to standing up for various groups, writing for Teen Vogue in a 2018 op-ed, “I’ll fight against white supremacy, anti-Black racism, anti-Semitism, and colonialism. I will go to battle with special interest groups, like the National Rifle Association and the fossil fuel industry and billionaires who want to exert undue influence on our democracy.”
Haaland was uncontested in her 2020 primary and the AP and The New York Times projected her as the winner and that she’ll hold her seat against Michelle Garcia Holmes.
Representative Sharice Davids (D-KS) joined Haaland in becoming one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress. Davids, a member of the Wisconsin-based Ho-Chunk Nation, is also the first openly gay congressperson from her state.
Davids was uncontested in her primary and faced Amanda Adkins in her contest of Kansas’s third district, with the AP and The New York Times projecting Davids’s victory.
Representative Katie Porter (D-CA) may be best known for her viral exchanges during congressional hearings featuring her whiteboard. More than just shareable videos, her determination convinced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in March to agree to pay for coronavirus testing.
“I’ve so enjoyed this spirited campaign, hearing the voices of Orange County families, and I’m honored to have earned their trust for another term,” Porter wrote on Twitter Tuesday night. “I will always put working people first, and I will continue to fight for them and for accountability in Washington.”
A former Bronx middle school principal, Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) defeated a 16-term incumbent to win the Democratic primary. The progressive Congressman had a lot of support from young people, with the youth-led Sunrise Movement making 65% of the 1.3 million calls made for Bowman’s campaign. Bowman’s primary victory in July set the stage for Tuesday, which saw the AP and The New York Times project he’d win his race.
“Wow. I’m so humbled to be the next Representative of #NY16. Thank you so much,” he wrote on Twitter Tuesday night. “I’m ready to get to work to disrupt the status quo and deliver for our families. Hold me accountable. Push me and my colleagues. I’m going to need you in Congress with me. There’s so much work to do.”
“I wouldn’t have run for office if it weren’t for AOC and the Squad,” he told Vanity Fair earlier this year.
Source: Teen Vogue