Five Black women entered Congress in January. Here’s what they’ve been up to.

Kaitlin Joshua



AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA-7) - Advocacy

Rep. Ayanna Pressley has made the news most frequently for her membership in “The Squad,” alongside Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar. However, Pressley has already sponsored 21 pieces of legislation, including bills that preclude the death penalty for federal crimes, support reproductive health, and In recent news, Rep. Pressley has filed an impeachment resolution against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh has faced numerous sexual misconduct allegations since his nomination and ultimately appointment. While other House Democrats have called for Kavanaugh’s impeachment, Pressley has taken the first major step. If enacted, the House Judiciary Committee - or its appointed task force - could investigate the Kavanaugh allegations in greater depth.


LAUREN UNDERWOOD (D-IL-14) - Health

Earlier this year, Rep. Lauren Underwood of Naperville, Illinois became the youngest Black women to ever serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. A former nurse and Department of Health and Human Services Senior Advisor, Rep. Underwood has made health a primary target. As a Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, much of her proposed legislation has centered on protecting veterans’ access to healthcare. However, she’s also sponsored legislation to instate smoke-free schools, address the links between climate and health, and require U.S. Customs and Border Protection to develop a consistent, efficient system designed to provide migrants with health screenings.


LUCY MCBATH (D-GA-6) - Social Justice

Rep. Lucy McBath became an activist after her son Jordan was killed in the “Loud Music Shooting” that rocked her community and forced a national conversation on the impact of racial and gun violence. Her work in Congress reflects her dedication to improving the livelihood and safety of students across the nation, including cosponsored legislation on school shooting safety and preparedness and self-sponsored legislation concerned with reducing the complicated language on the FAFSA and providing relief to defrauded students.


ILHAN OMAR (D-MN-5) - Progressive Politics

Rep. Ilhan Omar has spent significant time in the media lately, particularly in relation to Islamophobic comments from the President. However, beyond the Twitter and media feud, Rep. Omar has made significant legislative gains in her own right. She has already sponsored 13 pieces of legislation, among them efforts to reduce the amount of money from criminal corporate organizations funding political campaigns and cancel federal student loans. Overall Rep. Omar has been consistent with progressive policy positions that often mirror those of Democratic primary candidate Elizabeth Warren.

JAHANA HAYES (D-CT-5) - Education

Rep. Jahana Hayes grew to fame when she became Connecticut Teacher of the Year and then ultimately National Teacher of the Year in 2016. As for many of her fellow Black women lawmakers, her passions have inspired much of her legislation. In her months in office, Rep. Hayes has shown herself a staunch advocate for children and students, from seeking to keep guns out of classrooms to pushing to close the college hunger gap.

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