The Democrats who joined the House last month continue to defy expectations.
After flipping the most seats for their party in a single election since Watergate in November’s midterms, numerous freshmen Democrats were not shy about their hopes for powerful committee assignments.
The House contains dozens of committees, but a handful are in high demand and typically require members to “pay their dues” before gaining these prime appointments.
In response to their new colleagues’ lofty ambitions, one anonymous Democrat told the Los Angeles Times last month, “That’s not how things work,” while another said “I don’t know if I want to say ‘Sit down and shut up'” in the newspaper.
But now that high-profile freshmen House Democrats have been appointed to some of the chamber’s most influential committees, it’s clear that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) views many new members of her diverse, young caucus as the futures of the party.
Here’s what some of the most important committees in the House look like now:
Oversight and Reform
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) chairs what is arguably the most formidable congressional committee due to its scope of subpoena power and status as the House’s top investigative body.
The 13-term Maryland Democrat is joined on the House Oversight and Reform Committee by several of the most visible freshmen Democrats.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) prioritized the rising costs of prescription drugs during her first hearing.
This week I conducted my first-ever line of questioning at an Oversight committee hearing, which focused on the skyrocketing costs of pharmaceuticals.
Here’s what happened ⬇️ https://t.co/M6XuL61zXN
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 1, 2019
Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) hasn’t been shy about her intentions to expose corruption in President Donald Trump’s administration.
Coming to a committee hearing near you soon: pic.twitter.com/ZUALguSult
— Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley) January 23, 2019
Americans are having sleepless nights & living a daily "nightmare" because of the stress & indignities of this shutdown brought on by Trump & the Republican Senate. We came to expose & to root out corruption, & to restore the American peoples faith in their govt. @OversightDems https://t.co/do7PAbhASV
— Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley) January 24, 2019
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) was a little more discreet upon the announcement of her appointment.
Tick tock 😉 https://t.co/dFEcEdcO4o
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) January 23, 2019
Rep. Katie Hill (D-CA) referred to her committee assignment as “all about restoring faith in government.”
Serving on Oversight is an honor — we need to ensure those entrusted with public service are also deserving of public trust. This is all about restoring faith in government, and I'm so proud to be a part of that process. https://t.co/TD8mvP5IRl
— Rep. Katie Hill (@RepKatieHill) January 23, 2019
With Rep. Harley Rouda (D-CA) also appointed to the Oversight and Reform Committee, five freshmen Democrats on the committee will face off against House Freedom Caucus members like Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Mark Meadows (R-NC), and Paul Gosar (R-AZ).
Based on the early returns, it looks like these young Democrats are up for the challenge. Ocasio-Cortez reclaimed her speaking time during the first meeting, after Meadows told her three days wouldn’t be enough notice for subpoenas because “We’re not just siting around eating bonbons.”
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) assumed control of the committee that is responsible for oversight of the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve, and entire U.S. banking system last month.
The 15-term California Democrat welcomes several freshmen colleagues who focused on economic inequalities during their successful campaigns.
Ocasio-Cortez praised “the work of grassroots organizers and activists” and mentioned a wide range of goals upon her appointment.
Personally, I’m looking forward to digging into the student loan crisis, examining for-profit prisons/ICE detention, and exploring the development of public & postal banking. To start. 🙂
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 16, 2019
I want to be very clear about how successful the work of grassroots organizers and activists have been in helping Progressives secure appointments to the powerful Financial Services Committee.
It starts, as w/ many amazing developments, w/ everyday people paying attention. https://t.co/oKBI0OXCAz
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 16, 2019
Pressley said she thought of “anyone that’s ever come home to an eviction notice, felt overwhelmed by student debt or worked the 2nd&3rd shift” when her committee assignment was announced.
To anyone that’s ever come home to an eviction notice, felt overwhelmed by student debt or worked the 2nd&3rd shift – when I learned that I was appointed to the Financial Services Committee @FSCDems tonight I thought of you. We belong everywhere. I’ll never stop fighting for you.
— Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley) January 16, 2019
Tlaib tweeted about her desire to work with Waters on “holding Wall Street accountable.”
I am honored to be able to serve on @FSCDems. I look forward to working against insurance redlining, discriminatory practices by mortgage lenders & financial institutions, & holding Wall Street accountable under the leadership of Chairwoman @RepMaxineWaters! pic.twitter.com/uQCqk81Nah
— Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (@RepRashida) January 17, 2019
Though Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) hasn’t received as much attention as some of her new colleagues, the longtime consumer protection attorney stands to make a major impact on House Financial Services.
I’m excited to announce my appointment to the House Financial Services Committee. From bringing accountability to the big banks to promoting affordable homeownership, I’m ready to work on some of the most important issues for the people of #CA45. pic.twitter.com/0DnLksWiqh
— Rep. Katie Porter (@RepKatiePorter) January 17, 2019
Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), who has served as a substitute judge and assistant commonwealth’s attorney, said she would be focused on “fighting to protect you, your family & your future from abusive financial practices” in a tweet following her appointment.
I’m honored to be appointed to @FSCDems. We’re fighting to protect you, your family & your future from abusive financial practices. We have real opportunities to ensure that commerce continues to thrive while consumers and vulnerable Americans are protected from bad actors. #VA10 https://t.co/RPlZUP1Hh9
— Rep. Jennifer Wexton (@RepWexton) January 17, 2019
Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA) touted the perspective she would bring to the committee as “a small business owner representing a rural and urban district.”
As a small business owner representing a rural and urban district, I plan to bring a unique perspective on the challenges different communities face in obtaining access to capital to the House Financial Services Committee. https://t.co/zLpHxv3ihm
— Rep. Cindy Axne (@RepCindyAxne) January 16, 2019
Rep. Jesús García (D-IL), who was born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States as a child, said he intends to focus on “unfair lending practices and decades-long, racial injustice issues.”
My appointment to the powerful Financial Services Committee gives Chicagoans a voice in shaping important banking and housing policy. I plan to address unfair lending practices and decades-long, racial injustice issues that disproportionately bar low-income communities of color
— Congressman Chuy García (@RepChuyGarcia) January 17, 2019
Reps. Ben McAdams (D-UT), Sean Casten (D-IL), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Sylvia Garcia (D-TX), and Dean Phillips (D-MN) round out the group of freshmen House Democrats that make up a fifth of the voting majority on Financial Services.
14-term Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) now leads the powerful committee that oversees federal courts, law enforcement, and impeachment proceedings.
Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA) was a Delta flight attendant when her 17-year-old son was shot and killed in 2012 because of the music being played in his car. McBath became a national spokesperson for Everytown for Gun Safety before flipping Newt Gingrich’s former seat near Atlanta in November.
McBath will be part of the judiciary committee’s hearing on gun violence Wednesday, the first in the House since Republicans gained control of the chamber eight years ago.
Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO) — the first Eritrean-American in Congress and Colorado’s first Black congressman — is also on the judiciary committee.
8 years. For the first time in 8 years, Congress will hold a hearing on gun violence prevention. Honored to participate in next week's Judiciary Committee hearing on #HR8. #EnoughIsEnough #copolitics @MomsDemand @Everytown @GiffordsCourage @AMarch4OurLives https://t.co/t8EYRtjxz9
— Joe Neguse (@JoeNeguse) February 1, 2019
Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX), a former county judge who succeeded former Rep. Beto O’Rourke in an El Paso-based district along the U.S.-Mexico border, has been one of the most vocal critics of Trump’s long-desired wall.
Honored to serve on the House Judiciary Committee. We’re about to select our subcommittees! 🤞
( w/ @RepSylviaGarcia @RepLucyMcBath @RepDean and thanks for being our Photog, @RepMGS) pic.twitter.com/uILfAQj2eN
— Rep. Veronica Escobar (@RepEscobar) January 23, 2019
Garcia, a former legal assistance lawyer and social worker, joined Escobar as Texas’ first-ever Latina congresswomen last month.
Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL), who immigrated to the United States from Ecuador at the age of 14, was a nonprofit advocate before being elected to the House last year.
Big news! My committee assignments are ….
⚖ House Judiciary
🚗 Transportation & Infrastructure Committees
Can't wait to tackle gun reform, immigration reform, sea level rise, rebuilding our roads and bridges, fighting climate change … so much to do! Let's get to work.
— Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (@RepDMP) January 18, 2019
Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY), one of the most outspoken Democratic opponents of Pelosi’s successful bid to become House Speaker for the second time, was reportedly denied a spot on House judiciary.
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) chairs the Committee on Foreign Affairs, which oversees America’s international relations.
The 16-term New York Democrat welcomes several freshmen Democrats to his ranks.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who lived in a Kenyan refugee camp as a child, tweeted about her assignment to “the committee that is responsible for overseeing our country’s—and this President’s—actions abroad.”
Since being appointed, she has faced criticism from Republicans regarding her support of the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Omar has expressed support for BDS, with reservations, though she has also advocated for boycotts against Saudi Arabia and other Muslim-majority nations accused of human rights violations.
Still, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), the committee’s ranking member, called Omar’s appointment to House Foreign Affairs “crazy” and insinuated that she was responsible for an anti-Semitic message sent to his office.
As has been the case for most conservatives who attempt to engage with the young freshmen Democrats on Twitter, it hasn’t gone too well for Zeldin.
This is heinous and hateful. I too am flooded with bigoted voicemails and calls every day.
Maybe we could meet and share notes on how to fight religious discrimination of all kinds?
Maybe over Somali tea, in your old office which I happen to be in now. https://t.co/FQ909kYSwo
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) February 1, 2019
Don’t mind him, he is just waking up to the reality of having Muslim women as colleagues who know how to stand up to bullies!
It’s gonna be fun watching him lose his marbles 😜 https://t.co/FPEtcxW4GN
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) January 31, 2019
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) January 31, 2019
Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) is a former CIA operations officer.
Wondering what I’ll be working on as a member of the U.S. House Committees on Foreign Affairs and Ag? ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/ryaCDUqr1c
— Rep. Abigail Spanberger (@RepSpanberger) January 22, 2019
Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) is an Air Force veteran whose father was a Holocaust survivor.
Proud to have secured assignments this week on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee for the 116th Congress.https://t.co/OR2n1HTmhz
— Chrissy Houlahan (@RepHoulahan) January 18, 2019
Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), who served in the State Department under former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, fled communist Poland with his mother as a child.
"As a former Assistant Secretary of State, Senior Director on the National Security Council, and Washington Director for Human Rights Watch, I hope to bring unique experience and knowledge to the Foreign Affairs Committee." https://t.co/hNQytpUSYU
— Rep. Tom Malinowski (@RepMalinowski) January 17, 2019
Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX) is an attorney and ex-NFL player who served in Obama’s Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Honored to serve North Texans on @TransportDems, @HouseForeign & @VetAffairsDems. Ready to get to work to improve the lives of everyday folks and keep Texas on the right track. https://t.co/yE4YOmAebv
— Colin Allred (@RepColinAllred) January 18, 2019
Freshmen Reps. Andy Levin (D-MI) — the son of former Rep. Sandy Levin (D-MI) — David Trone (D-MD), and Phillips also join Engel on House Foreign Affairs.
Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) chairs the committee responsible for funding and oversight of the Defense Department and portions of the Energy Department.
The 12-term Washington Democrat welcomes many of his new colleagues with military experience to Armed Services, most of whom had never run for office prior to winning their races in November’s midterms.
Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO) is a former Army captain who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and was awarded a Bronze Star.
I’m honored to be a member of the House Armed Services Committee. Our most solemn responsibility is the decision to send our young men and women into harm’s way. As a former Army Ranger, I've seen firsthand the horrors of war and understand force should always be a last resort. https://t.co/2IEz9bqnvw
— Rep. Jason Crow (@RepJasonCrow) January 16, 2019
Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME) is a former Marine Corps infantryman who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I’ll be taking my experience serving in Iraq and Afghanistan to the House Armed Services Committee. I’m honored to fight for Maine’s working people and our soldiers, sailors, and airmen. https://t.co/aH0smGKkhx
— Congressman Jared Golden (@RepGolden) January 17, 2019
Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) was a CIA analyst in Iraq before joining the State and Defense Departments.
I'm honored to be serving on the House Armed Services Committee: pic.twitter.com/OsQqxMpmG2
— Rep. Elissa Slotkin (@RepSlotkin) January 15, 2019
Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) is a former Navy commander who holds the distinction of being “the first female sailor to spend her entire career on combat ships.”
As a 20-year Navy veteran, I am honored to serve on the House Armed Services Committee. These are difficult times in a dangerous world, and our brave service members in Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District and across America deserve our strongest support. https://t.co/w6GpN4Q8Tf
— Representative Elaine Luria (@RepElaineLuria) January 15, 2019
Rep. Gil Cisneros (D-CA) is a former Navy lieutenant commander who served in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm.
Excited to announce I've been selected to serve on @HASCDemocrats. As a vet, I know how our military works & what service members require to keep our nation safe. Thousands of my constituents rely on the work of HASC & I know I can bring oversight & expertise to the committee.
— Rep. Gil Cisneros (@RepGilCisneros) January 15, 2019
Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) is a former Navy helicopter pilot and lieutenant commander.
— Rep. Mikie Sherrill (@RepSherrill) January 17, 2019
Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ) served on Obama’s National Security Council and as a diplomat in Afghanistan.
Armed Services also includes freshmen Reps. Deb Haaland (D-NM) — a daughter of U.S. military veterans and one of the first Native congresswomen — Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM), Lori Trahan (D-MA), Kendra Horn (D-OK), Escobar, Houlahan, and Hill.