About a quarter of voting members (23%) of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate are racial or ethnic minorities, making the 117th Congress the most racially and ethnically diverse in history. There has been a long-running trend toward higher numbers of non-White lawmakers on Capitol Hill: This is the sixth Congress to break the record set by the one before it.
Overall, 124 lawmakers today identify as Black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander or Native American, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the Congressional Research Service. This represents a 97% increase over the 107th Congress of 2001-03, which had 63 minority members.
Among today’s senators and representatives, the overwhelming majority of racial and ethnic minority members are Democrats (83%), while 17% are Republicans. This represents a shift from the last Congress, when just 10% of non-White lawmakers were Republicans. Our analysis reflects the 532 voting members of Congress seated as of Jan. 26, 2021.
Although recent Congresses have continued to set new highs for racial and ethnic diversity, they have still been disproportionately White when compared with the overall U.S. population. Non-Hispanic White Americans account for 77% of voting members in the new Congress, considerably larger than their 60% share of the U.S. population overall. This gap hasn’t narrowed with time: In 1981, 94% of members of Congress were White, compared with 80% of the U.S. population.
In the House of Representatives, however, representation of some racial and ethnic groups is now on par with their share of the total population. For example, 13% of House members are Black, about equal to the share of Black Americans. And Native Americans now make up about 1% of both the House and the U.S. population.
Other racial and ethnic groups in the House are somewhat less represented relative to their share of the population. The share of Hispanics in the U.S. population (19%) is about twice as high as it is in the House (9%). Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders together account for 6% of the national population and 3% of House members.
This analysis includes four representatives who are counted under more than one racial or ethnic identity: Rep. Robert Scott, D-Va., is counted as Black and Asian. Reps. Antonio Delgado and Ritchie Torres, both New York Democrats, are listed as Black and Hispanic. Rep. Marilyn Strickland, D-Wash., is both the first Black lawmaker to represent the state and one of the first Korean American women to be elected to Congress. Native Hawaiian Rep. Kai Kahele (D-Hawaii) is counted with the Native American lawmakers. Portuguese American members are not included in the Hispanic count. READ MORE
By Katherine Schaeffer | Pew Research Center
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