Trahan Sworn in As 3rd District Rep As Part of Record Class of Women
U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan was sworn into office Thursday -- overseen by once-again House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the only woman ever to hold that role -- amid a buzzing, enthusiastic atmosphere, part of a diverse freshman class that looks like no other the House of Representatives has ever seen.
“People often ask you: ‘When did it hit you?’” said Trahan, who succeeds U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas in the first time a Massachusetts congressional seat has been passed from one woman to another. “It hit me like a tidal wave today, and I think it was because of today. I was reminded last night that in 1918, women got the right to vote on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. One hundred years later, we have a record number of women -- 102 -- serving in the U.S. House of Representatives.”
“We elected a woman speaker of the House,” Trahan continued. “My 8-year-old daughter Grace was up on the dais while Speaker Pelosi took her oath. My daughter Caroline was in my arms as I took my oath. It’s such an important moment for our country and our history.”
The new congresswoman was called into action quickly. She spoke by phone around 6 p.m., a few hours before she expected to vote in favor of a Democratic proposal to reopen the federal government after almost two weeks of a shutdown.
Such a measure is unlikely to prompt immediate change. President Donald Trump said earlier on Thursday that he would veto a funding bill unless it met his demands of $5 billion to fund a proposed physical barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border.
But Trahan said Democrats are undeterred. She pointed out that the terms proposed by House Democrats passed unanimously in the Senate last month as a continuing resolution before Trump announced he would not sign off on any measures that did not support his desire for a wall.
More than 7,000 federal employees in Massachusetts have been furloughed or are working without pay during the shutdown, according to Trahan, including air-traffic controllers and prison workers.
“The Democrats today are being the adults in the room because they’re putting forward a solution that would end the shutdown,” Trahan said. “We lose the trust of our constituents when we fail to take the most basic duties seriously. I think the proposal that we’re voting on tonight is the right one because we’re serious about opening up the government and getting back to work.”
House Democrats also unveiled House Resolution 1 on Thursday, a large-scale package of legislation designed to combat corruption and reduce the influence of money in politics. Its chances of passing the Senate remain slim, but Trahan cited it as a key step toward restoring public trust in democracy.
Trahan penned an op-ed in the Boston Globe on Wednesday touting the bill as a “bold solution.”
Trahan had never held office before Thursday’s inauguration, but the halls of Capitol Hill are familiar. She spent a decade as an aide to former U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan, who left office in 2007.
The 116th Congress that Trahan joins is different, though, featuring more women and people of color than any before it. Most of the diversity is concentrated on the left: 89 of the 235 Democratic representatives are women and 96 are non-white. Among the 200 House Republicans, only 13 are women and 9 are non-white.
“You’re going to have more voices, more perspectives, more innovative prescriptions based on that diversity,” Trahan said. “When you harness that diversity, when you’re inclusive, in my experience, it yields better outcomes.”
Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisLisinski.