“We're in the building,” the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, wrote on Instagram beneath a portrait of herself and five new colleagues whose elections broke barriers in 2018.
The image is just a snapshot of the new reality in the House of Representatives: After Thursday's official swearing in ceremony, the most female and most racially diverse Congress in history will begin governing.
More than 100 women were sworn into the House of Representatives — a new record — and many of them are breaking ground when it comes to race and sexuality, too. And House Democrats voted in Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as speaker, the only woman to have ever held the role.
"I am particularly proud to be the woman Speaker of the House of this Congress, which marks the 100th year of women winning the right to vote. And that we all have the ability and the privilege to serve with more than 100 women in the House of Representatives — the highest number in history," Pelosi said on Thursday.
Democrats Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne are the first women elected to the House by Iowa voters. Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia, both Democrats, are the first Hispanic women ever elected to federal office by Texas voters.
Escobar and Garcia are Mexican American, while Florida Democratic Rep.-elect Debbie Mucarsel-Powell makes history as the first member of Congress of South American descent.
I call this one: “A retired union pipefitter welder and retired public school secretary walk into their youngest daughter’s Congressional office” ... My first visitors. pic.twitter.com/7uHeUYt9oP
The swearing-in of Kim, Democrat TJ Cox in California and Michael San Nicolas, a non-voting representative for Guam, in the House brings the total number of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Congress to 20, a new high, according to the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC).
Chris Pappas is the first openly gay member from New Hampshire, while Angie Craig is the first openly gay member elected from Minnesota. Katie Hill is the first openly bisexual congresswoman from California. Davids, one of the first two Native American women elected, is also the first gay congresswoman from Kansas.
Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema was sworn in on Thursday as the first ever bisexual senator.
The 116th Congress has its largest Hispanic Caucus, too, with 37 members in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus this year, The Hill reported. The caucus includes elected officials from both the House and Senate.
CORRECTION (Jan. 3, 3:50 p.m. ET): An earlier version of this article misidentified the first woman elected to Congress from Iowa. It was Joni Ernst, who was elected to the Senate in 2014. It was not Abby Finkenauer or Cindy Axne, who were sworn in as representatives today as the first women from Iowa in the House.
Jane C. Timm
Jane C. Timm is a political reporter for NBC News, fact checking elections and covering voting rights.