US Congress


When the 116th Congress was sworn into office on Thursday, January 10, 2019, the class made history as the most diverse group ever with a record 127 women.

Among those women was 32-year-old Democrat Lauren Underwood, who etched her name in the history book as the youngest black woman to be elected to Congress.

Underwood, who graduated from the University of Michigan and John Hopkins University, is a registered nurse who now represents Illinois’ 14th Congressional District. Her transition into politics began in 2010, when she joined the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

According to her website, she played a crucial role in implementing the Affordable Care Act. In 2014, she was appointed by the Obama administration to help with public health emergencies and disasters across the nation, including the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

Lauren Underwood, Democratic Congresswoman-elect of the 14th Congressional District, pauses before stepping on stage to give her victory speech at her Election Night party at the Kane County Fairgrounds on Tuesday, Nov. 6,  2018, in St. Charles, Ill.

Chicago Tribune | Tribune News Service | Getty Images
Lauren Underwood, Democratic Congresswoman-elect of the 14th Congressional District, pauses before stepping on stage to give her victory speech at her Election Night party at the Kane County Fairgrounds on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in St. Charles, Ill.

Born in Ohio but raised in Chicago-suburb Naperville, Illinois, Underwood says her inspiration to work in healthcare came from the doctors and nurses who helped her fight a heart condition she was diagnosed with at age 8. As someone with a pre-existing health condition, she says she knows first-hand how important it is to enact laws and policies that preserve and expand healthcare for Illinois families.

“I have a two-year opportunity to make a real difference and represent the people of the 14th, and they have placed their faith in me,” The Chicago Tribunereports Underwood saying at a recent Congressional Black Caucus event. “They’ve given us a chance. I have to prove myself, and we will, beginning on day one, where I’m leading an effort to reform this government.”

In addition to Underwood, several other Congressional newcomers are making history, including Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, the first Muslim women in Congress; Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland, the first Native American women in Congress; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman in Congress; and Jahana Hayes, Connecticut’s first black woman in Congress.

When asked by a reporter if she was excited to make history, Underwood said she was excited to be part of “a moment in history.” She explained at a CBC event that this new class of Congress “is what [she] always hoped the United States Congress could always look like.”

“Diversity of thought, geographic diversity, age, race, gender, life experience are all great things that we each bring to this Congress of the United States,” The Chicago Tribune reports her saying. “I’m really proud to be part of a caucus where I’m not ‘the only.'”


Source: cnbc.com

Ilhan Omar — one of two first  Muslim women to be elected to the US Congress, made history on Thursday, January 3rd 2019, when she wore her Hijab on the House floor.

The request of one of the first female Muslim members of the United States Congress, Ilhan Omar, to be allowed to wear hijab when she is on the floor of the House to vote and give speeches, has been granted.

Daily Mail UK reports that the incoming speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and incoming House rules committee chairman, Jim McGovern, backed Omar in her request and included it in the rules package they released on Tuesday, January 1.

Omar, who is a Democrat, tweeted in November after she was elected: “No one puts a scarf on my head but me. It’s my choice—one protected by the first amendment. And this is not the last ban I’m going to work to lift.”

Republicans will be handing over control of Congress to Democrats after eight years in power.

Omar, will become the first federal legislator to wear a religious headscarf when she’s sworn in on Thursday, January 3.

Omar is joined by Rep-elect Rashida Tlaib of Michigan as the first two Muslim women in Congress.

The Congresswoman from Minnesota was all smiles as she was sworn in on Capitol Hill … where she was surrounded by a throng of supporters, many of whom were also wearing hijabs. Omar’s no stranger to politics — she served in the state legislature before making her historic run for Congress.


Omar — the first Somali-American in Congress — has also never shied away from her religion in public. In fact, during her victory speech on Election night, she dropped the Arabic phrase, “alhamdulillah” … which means “all praise to God.”

The 37-year-old — who came from a refugee camp in Kenya some 23 years ago — ran on very progressive platforms … such as hiking the minimum wage, universal healthcare and free college tuition.

United States Congress will now allow Muslim women to wear hijab on the floor of the House to vote and give speeches.


Credit: TMZ, UK Daily Mail

Palestinian-American Rashida Tlaib and Somali-American Ilhan Omar have become the first Muslim women elected to US Congress.

Tlaib took Michigan’s 13th congressional district in a race in which she was the sole major party candidate. Omar won Minnesota’s strongly Democratic fifth congressional district, replacing the first Muslim congressman, Keith Ellison, who vacated his seat to run in the state’s attorney general race.

Who are Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar?

Tlaib, 42, was born in Detroit to Palestinian immigrant parents.

She made history in 2008 by winning a seat on the Michigan Legislature, becoming the first Muslim woman to do so.

Her campaign platform included pledges to secure a $15 minimum wage, preventing cuts to welfare programmes, such as Medicare and Social Security, as well as stopping tax relief to large corporations.

Omar, who arrived in the US at the age of 14 after fleeing civil war in Somalia, campaigned on a similarly progressive platform, which calls for universal healthcare and tuition-free colleges.

She said her political life began attending local Democratic Farmer Labor party caucuses with her grandfather after arriving in the US.


Credit: Al Jazeera