On January 3rd, the 116th Congress of the United States was sworn in. It has been well publicized that this is the most diverse class of all time, with female representation up 22% from the 115th Congress. Several Republican women have already been named to crucial leadership posts and others have made their voice known moving forward. Here are 5 Republican women to watch in the 116th Congress:
Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA)
Senator Ernst, the junior senator from Iowa, will become one of two women to serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the first two to do so for the Republican side. The Senate Judiciary Committee is one of the most influential committees to sit on, since one of their roles is to review potential nominees for positions in government. Senator Ernst was elected in 2014 after serving in the Iowa Senate. Ernst isn’t a stranger to breaking barriers. She was the first woman Iowa had elected to either House of Congress and was the first female combat veteran to be elected to the Senate. Ernst served for 23 years in both the Army Reserve and the Iowa National Guard before retiring in 2015.
Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
Senator Blackburn, a freshman senator from Tennessee, will also share the title of being the first Republican woman to sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee. In addition to reviewing potential nominees, the Senate Judiciary Committee also oversees the Department of Justice and reviews potential legislation. Blackburn previously served in the Tennessee Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives representing Tennessee’s 7th district. Blackburn is also the first woman from Tennessee to be elected to the U.S. Senate.
Representative Liz Cheney (WY-At Large)
Rep. Cheney was elected head of the House Republican Conference at the end of November. As #3 in line of leadership, Cheney will be responsible for developing party messaging and organizing weekly meetings with other representatives and leadership. In a letter announcing her intent to run, Rep. Cheney said “Despite the tremendous success of the Trump economy, tax cuts, historic regulatory reform, and crucial efforts to begin rebuilding our military and restoring American strength and power, we will be in the minority in the 116th Congress. For us to prevail in this new environment, we must fundamentally overhaul and modernize our House GOP communications operation.” Cheney has had a long history with the Republican Party. She worked for the State Department and for her father’s campaign for Vice President. After a failed U.S. Senate bid in 2014, she ran for U.S. House in 2016 and won.
Representative Kay Granger (TX-12)
Rep. Granger will become the ranking Republican member of the House Appropriations Committee. Her name doesn’t pop up often, but she has represented Texas’s 16th district since 1996. Granger was previously the Chairwoman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. The House Appropriations Committee is in charge of approving all government spending measures, which will be a crucial position with the ongoing budget battle. Granger, a lifelong resident of Texas, was elected as the first female of Fort Worth in 1991. She is the first Republican woman to represent Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Representative Elise Stefanik (NY-21)
While Rep. Stefanik has not been appointed to a leadership position (yet), she has already been making waves as a millenial Republican. When Stefanik was elected in 2014, she was the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. As the first female head of recruitment for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), she recruited over 100 women to run for office, but was frustrated when only one made it through their primary. Since the NRCC refrains from participating in primaries, she left to head her own PAC to support Republican women in primaries. There is no doubt in my mind that she is a woman to watch in the next election cycle.