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A record number of women expected to serve in U.S. Congress in 2021

Balance of power beginning to take shape in Washington
Balance of power beginning to take shape in Washington 10:17

A record number of women are set to serve in the U.S. Congress next year, with at least 129 women set to join the United States House and Senate. This breaks a record first set in 2019, when 127 women served in the U.S. Congress, according to data compiled by the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University.

In the U.S. House, at least 83 Democratic women and at least 21 Republican women are expected to serve, according to CAWP. 

In Florida's 26th and 27th districts, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Maria Elvira Salazar are leading, which will up the number of Republican women to 23 and the total number of women in the House total to 106. This figure is made up of 85 incumbents and 21 non-incumbents.

As for the U.S. Senate, CAWP reports that 25 women are set to serve in 2021, which falls short of the record set in 2019. Previously, 26 Senate seats were held by women.

Even after all of the races are called, the number of women in the Senate could change next year if Senator Kelly Loeffler wins her seat in her January runoff election. The numbers might also be altered if Senator Kamala Harris becomes vice president, leaving her seat open. 

In a press release, CAWP Director Debbie Walsh said: "Women's representation in American politics has been, through struggle and persistence, on a long, if occasionally fitful, upward trajectory. With all that progress, at best women will still make up less than 30% of Congress in 2021."

"The 2018 cycle was a story of Democratic success; this year we are seeing significant gains on the Republican side. Advances for women must come from both sides of the aisle if women are to achieve equal representation in Congress," Walsh said. 

A total of 366 women have served as U.S. Representatives, Delegates, or Senators, according to the U.S. House of Representatives. Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana became he first woman to serve, joining the in 65th Congress in 1917.

The first woman Senator was 87-year-old Rebecca Latimer Felton, who was appointed to a vacant seat by Georgia's Democratic governor Thomas Hardwick in 1922, according to the U.S. Senate. 

Not only has the 2020 election brought more women into the U.S. Congress, it has also diversified it. Representatives Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley, who dubbed themselves "The Squad," all won reelection this year after joining the House in 2018. All of the squad members are progressive Democrats and women of color. 

Three Native American women won either election or reelection to the House this year. New Mexico also made history by becoming the first state to elect all women of color to its House delegation. 

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