diverse, congress
Senator Raphael Warnock is the first Black senator to represent Georgia and is part of the most racially and ethnically diverse Congress to date.(Shutterstock)

117th Congress is Most Racially and Ethnically Diverse in History, Pew Reports

Nearly a quarter (23%) of lawmakers in the current U.S. House of Representatives and Senate are racial and ethnic minorities, Pew Research Center reports. This 117th Congress is the sixth in a row to break the record by being more diverse than the previous.

Pew’s analysis of Congressional Research Service data shows that right now, 124 Congress members identify as Black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander or Native American. In the 107th Congress from 2001–2003, that number was just 63.

The majority of these Black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander and Native American lawmakers are Democrats, at 83%. Seventeen percent are Republicans. Republican lawmakers of color are also growing in numbers. In the last Congress, Republicans made up just 10% of non-white lawmakers.

Still, non-Hispanic white people make up the vast majority of the voting members of this Congress at 77% — a share that is not proportionate to the share of white people in the U.S. population. Non-Hispanic white people make 60% of the U.S. population overall, according to the Census as of 2019.

The House of Representatives right now has some groups whose representation is comparable to their total populations. In the House, 13% of members are Black, which Pew says is about equal to the share of Black people in the U.S. population at large. Native Americans make up 1% of the House and about 1% of the U.S. population.

Other groups in the House are still underrepresented. The U.S. population is 19% Hispanic, but the House is only 9% Hispanic. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders make up 6% of the U.S. population and only 3% of the House.

In the Senate, representation has gotten better but there is still lots of work to do to create a government body that mirrors the United States. Of the current members holding office, six senators are Hispanic, two are Asian and three are Black. Freshman Democrat Raphael Warnock is the first Black senator to represent Georgia. Freshman Democrat Alex Padilla is the first Hispanic senator to represent California, taking Vice President Kamala Harris’s place. Just three of the eleven non-white senators are Republicans: Tim Scott of South Carolina is Black and Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas are Hispanic. (There are currently 76 male Senators and just 24 female Senators.)

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