Arizona female lawmakers make history as 116th Congress gavels in

Jan 3, 2019, 11:11 AM | Updated: 6:43 pm
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)...
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

PHOENIX — Lawmakers from Arizona were among a group of women who made history when the 116th Congress gaveled in Thursday.

Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema made history as the state’s first federal female senators, while U.S. Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick and Debbie Lesko were among the record-high 102 women who were sworn into the House.

Sinema was the first openly bisexual senator in U.S. history when she was sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence. She will also be the first Democrat to hold the office since 1988.

“Our state deserves leaders who put country above party, and I pledge to keep our state’s tradition of doing just that,” Sinema said in a statement.

Kirkpatrick and Lesko will join Reps. David Schweikert, Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar, Ruben Gallego, Tom O’Halleran, Greg Stanton and Raul Grijalva in the House.

Some of Arizona’s lawmakers shared their experience joining the new Congress on social media.

Sinema was elected to outgoing U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake’s seat over Republican McSally in November, beating her by less than 2 percent of the vote.

McSally was picked by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey last month to succeed outgoing U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl and serve out part of the late Sen. John McCain’s term.

Both Flake and Ducey praised the women on social media.

The Congress is poised to be like none other.

There are more women than ever before, and a new generation of Muslims, Latinos, Native Americans and African-Americans in the House creating what academics call a reflective democracy, more aligned with the population of the United States.

The Republican side in the House is still made up mostly of white men, and in the Senate Republicans bolstered their ranks in the majority.

The day unfolded as one of both celebration and impatience.

Newly elected lawmakers arrived, often with friends and families in tow, to take the oath of office and pose for ceremonial photos.

The Democrats planned to quickly pass legislation to reopen the government, but without the funding that President Donald Trump is demanding for his promised border wall.

Senate Republicans under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had no plans to consider the House bills to fund the government unless Trump agrees to sign them into law.

That ensures the shutdown will continue, clouding the first days of the new session.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Arizona female lawmakers make history as 116th Congress gavels in