Members of the 117th Congress have been sworn in, and they’ve got their work cut out for them. From the COVID-19 vaccine rollout to climate change to institutional racism, our lawmakers are facing a formidable set of challenges.
While these challenges need to be dealt with almost simultaneously, we’re ready to work with our legislators to address these issues. We’ve written this snapshot to bring you up to speed on the new session. Read on to learn what’s new on Capitol Hill, what’s the same, and how you can engage your members of Congress.
The Big Picture
The most notable change from the 116th Congress is that control over the Senate changed hands. Sens. Raphael Warnock (GA) and John Ossoff (GA) both won their run-off elections, which means that Democrats now narrowly control the chamber. The majority leader is now Sen. Chuck Schumer (NY), and Sen. Mitch McConnell (KY) is the minority leader.
In the House, Democrats lost seats but still retain control over the chamber, with 221 members compared to 211 Republicans. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (CA-12) was reelected as Speaker of the House, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) is the minority leader.
While both chambers continue to be predominantly male and white, the 117th Congress is the most diverse in history. A record 141 women are serving in this Congress, and a record 25 Black women—all Democrats—won House seats this year. This is up from the previous high of 22 women last cycle. There are 45 Latinx members across both chambers and 19 Asian-American members. There are also 11 LGBTQ members of Congress, a record.
Faith on Capitol Hill
Congress remains overwhelmingly Christian. According to the Pew Research Center, 88% of members identify as Christian, and 55% identify as Protestant Christian. Members who identify as Jewish are the next largest group, making up 6% of the new Congress.
88% of members identify as Christian.
There are three members who identify as Muslim: Reps. Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Ilhan Omar (MN-5), and Andre Carson (IN-7). Two identify as Buddhist: Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-4) and Sen. Mazie Hirono (HI). Two others identify as Hindu: Reps. Ro Khanna (CA-17) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-8).
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) is the only member to identify as religiously unaffiliated.
How You Can Engage with the New Congress
Just as before, fcnl.org/congress is your main hub for engaging with members of Congress. You can find action alerts, identify your legislators, and use a staff look-up tool to figure out who works on the issues you’re interested in.
If you’re new to our digital action center, we’ve put together a short video on the home page to help you get oriented.
The beginning of a new session of Congress is a great time to begin building relationships with your legislators. We encourage you to reach out to your members, congratulate them on their election, and tell them that you’ll be in touch.