Here come the freshmen: Military veterans among Congress’ newest class

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January 5, 2015
By Erica Werner
From Stripes.com

WASHINGTON — Congress’ approval rating hovers around 15 percent, but there’s one group of people excited about the institution: the newly elected lawmakers who are about to join its ranks.

The House will welcome 58 freshmen this coming week, including 43 Republicans and 15 Democrats, pushing the GOP majority to 246 members, the most since the Great Depression.

In the Senate, 13 new lawmakers, all but one of them Republican, will be sworn in, flipping control of the chamber to the GOP with a 54-vote majority.

The incoming classes will bring new gender and racial diversity to Capitol Hill, with 104 women in the House and Senate and close to 100 black, Hispanic and Asian lawmakers. The newcomers include the youngest woman elected to Congress, 30-year-old Elise Stefanik of New York, and the first black Republican woman, Mia Love of Utah.

As the new members prepared to arrive on Capitol Hill, several said they brought hopes of curbing the often partisan atmosphere in Washington, showing the public that they really can govern and, just maybe, getting Congress’ approval rating back up past 20 percent.

“This election was not an endorsement of either party, it was a condemnation of, yes, the president’s policies, but also of government dysfunction,” said GOP Rep.-elect Carlos Curbelo, who defeated a Democratic incumbent in Florida. “I hope we can be different. … I hope we focus on getting things done.”

A few of the notable new arrivals:

The military veterans

A number of the new arrivals have served in the military, something that has become increasingly rare on Capitol Hill.

Democrats Seth Moulton and Ruben Gallego both served with the Marines in Iraq, while another incoming freshman, Republican Lee Zeldin of New York, served with the Army there.

Republican Rep.-elect Martha McSally of Arizona is a retired Air Force colonel and the first female fighter pilot to fly in combat. She told “Fox News Sunday” that military veterans bring a problem-solving perspective.

“We’re very solution-oriented, we’re very pragmatic,” McSally said Sunday. “You can’t be in the war you want to be in, you got to be in the war you’re in, and you got to just get the job done.”

Click here to read the full article: stripes.com

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