By Isabel Pulgarin
Congress has a new makeup from now to 2025 following the midterm elections last November. Here are your updates on the 118th Congress.
Ukrainian President Zelensky’s Winter Address
Before a joint meeting of Congress on Dec. 21, President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered a 23-minute speech pleading with America to maintain support for Ukraine during its ongoing crisis and series of attacks by Russia. History repeated itself as this was the first time a foreign leader addressed Congress during wartime since Winston Churchill’s address in 1941 during World War ll.
Kevin McCarthy as House Speaker
The Senate was kept under democratic control with a majority that was won over with the help of independents. Forty-eight seats make up the majority and 49 seats make up the minority, but the current total for Democrats tallied up to 51 with the help of three independents: Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, and Angus King of Maine.
The House of Representatives flipped majorities by a very fine margin. The GOP now holds 222 seats and the Democrats hold 213. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California subsequently stepped down Nov. 17 as majority speaker and supported New York Representative Hakeem Jeffries as House Minority Leader for the Democrats. This has come four years after her self-imposed term limit promise as House Speaker, and only weeks after her husband was brutally assaulted in their San Francisco home during an attempted kidnapping of the congresswoman of three decades.
Pelosi made history as the first female House speaker back in 2007, became minority leader in 2010, and again was elected house speaker in 2019 after the Democrats flipped the majority.
After 15 rounds of voting over four days, the most since 1859, Republican Representative Kevin McCarthy of California won the majority to become the new House Speaker on Jan. 6.
First Gen Z Member of Congress
Maxwell Alejandro Frost, a progressive from Orlando, became the first Gen Z member of the House of Representatives at age 25. Born of Puerto Rican, Lebanese, and Haitian descent, he was adopted at birth by a Kansas-born father and a Cuban mother.
Frost worked as a top organizer for March for Our Lives, the anti-violence group formed in response to the Parkland shooting in 2018, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that advocates for civil rights in court rooms, legislatures, and on the streets.
In a December Twitter thread by the Congressman-elect at the time, he wrote he applied for an apartment in Washington D.C. with a disclosed bad credit score he told was not a worry. Frost was denied the apartment and lost the application fee.
“This ain’t meant for people who don’t already have money,” he tweeted. “For those asking, I have bad credit ‘cause I ran up a lot of debt running for Congress for a year and a half. Didn’t make enough money from Uber itself to pay for my living.”
He has been couch-surfing until he earns enough from Congress to qualify for an apartment.
Frost has centered his efforts on ending gun violence, addressing climate change, protecting abortion rights and supporting Medicare for all. Now, Frost has set his eyes on curbing entertainment companies.
The Scandals of New Republican Congressman George Santos
Republican Queens Representative George Santos was elected to become the first openly gay House Republican as a non-incumbent. Though, before he was sworn-in after McCarthy won speakership, he rejected calls to step down because of lies he told while campaigning—lies made public by various news outlets and credited professionals.
His lies have included: earning a college degree from a New York college; working for Goldman Sachs and Citibank; claiming his grandparents “survived the Holocaust” and fled to Belgium as Jewish refugees to Ukraine, then again during World War II when they were both born in Brazil; claiming his mother was working in the South Tower on September 11, 2001 and survived when she was reportedly in Brazil at the time; having been a drag queen in Brazil; and being a Broadway producer of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” in 2011 that was notoriously delayed, failed, and lost millions of dollars.
In an announcement on Jan. 31, he said he will temporarily step down from his committee assignments as he faces heavy criticism from fellow Congress members and pending a Democratic-led House Ethics investigation barring him from posts.
House Investigating President Biden and Son, Hunter
The Republican-led House Oversight Committee opened an investigation into President Biden and his family’s business dealings when he was vice president in 2009. On Feb. 9, committee chairman, Kentucky Representative James Comer requested documents from Hunter Biden’s communications with intelligence agencies, travel records, and financial statements.
The day before the request, the committee was reviewing Twitter coverage on information about foreign business deals leaked from the Hunter's laptop.
In the request to Hunter Biden, Comer wrote, “You and your associates’ financial conduct raises significant ethics and national security concerns... The Committee is investigating President Biden’s knowledge and role in these foreign business deals to assess whether he has compromised our national security at the expense of the American people.”
The discovery of classified materials in President Biden’s personal possession over the past few months has only fueled the investigation further.
“The public’s not going to pay attention to that,” said Biden to PBS NewsHour. “If the only thing they can do is make up things about my family, it's not going to go very far."