On Thursday, the most diverse new crop of lawmakers in history will be sworn in to the 116th Congress. They have shown that they did not come here to play: The Green New Deal addressing climate change, championed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has already gained momentum — and Congress isn't even in session yet. On top of that, more women — and women of color — will be in Congress than ever.
To make sure you don't miss this event, we've got all the basics you need to know.
When will the new Congress be sworn in? According to the Constitution, the U.S. Congress must be sworn in at noon on January 3.
Have the Senate and House leaders been elected? The Senate leaders — Sen. Mitch McConnell as majority leader and Sen. Chuck Schumer as minority leader — have been reelected. The House is expected to reelect Rep. Nancy Pelosi as its next leader on Thursday. During roll call, each member-elect will state who they're voting for.
How many women will be in Congress this year? According to the Pew Research Center, 102 female U.S. House members — about a quarter of all members — will be in the 116th Congress, 34.3% of them for the first time. That's a record over the previous House, which had 87 women. As for the Senate, 25 women, 20% of whom are new, will take their seats on Thursday, beating the previous record of 23. That's a quarter of the Senate.
What are some of the other historic changes in Congress? It's a year of historic firsts. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Abby Finkenauer became the youngest women ever to serve in Congress. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar became the first Muslim-American women ever elected. Ayanna Pressley will be the first Black woman to represent Massachusetts. Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia will be the first Latinas to represent Texas. And Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland are the first Indigenous women ever elected to Congress.
What about the government shutdown? That is very much still happening, as Trump continues to push for his border wall — and this is, by the way, the first time a new Congress will be seated during a government shutdown. But Rep. Pelosi says she wants to vote on a deal to reopen the government ASAP.