House Republicans boast diversity, conservatives
WASHINGTON (AP) — Meet the new Republicans in the House of Representatives.
There’s Mia Love from Utah, the first black Republican woman to serve in the House.
At 30, Elise Stefanik of New York state is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.
Carlos Curbelo is the son of Cuban exiles in Florida.
“We’re back with youth, we’re back with diversity and we’re back with women,” Rep. Greg Walden, head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said after Tuesday’s elections, when House Republicans increased their majority to levels not seen in decades.
But Republicans also are welcoming some vocal new members; some are replacing more moderate lawmakers who retired. These new members could increase the ranks of tea party conservatives who have created persistent trouble for House Speaker John Boehner.
In North Carolina, Mark Walker is a pastor who suggested using fighter jets to deal with illegal immigration. He says his comments were taken out of context and that he was talking about a way to oppose drug cartels.
In Wisconsin, Glenn Grothman referred to protesters at the state Capitol as “a bunch of slobs” and has opposed equal-pay legislation because “you could argue that money is more important for men.”
In Georgia, Jody Hice, a Baptist minister and conservative talk show host, has said that being gay is a lifestyle that “enslaves” people and that he doesn’t have a problem with a woman being in politics as long as she’s “within the authority of her husband.”
Ryan Zinke, a former Navy SEAL elected in Montana, has gotten attention for calling Hillary Rodham Clinton “the antichrist.”
“Do I really believe that she is the antichrist? That answer would be ‘no,’” Zinke said in an interview. “But I do get a little emotional about Benghazi, and I, like the rest of America, want answers.”
In September 2012, when Clinton was secretary of state, the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed in Benghazi when militants stormed a U.S. diplomatic post and fired on a CIA compound nearby. Some Republicans argue the U.S. military held back assets that could have saved lives and that President Barack Obama and Clinton lied to the public about the nature of the attack.
Boehner laughed off questions about some of the incendiary comments from newly elected lawmakers.
“When you look at the vast majority of the new members that are coming in here, they’re really solid members,” he told reporters this past week.
The class of 2014, with a dozen new Republican seats and counting, pales in comparison to the 2010 midterms when Republicans picked up 63 seats and tea party members who immediately began challenging Republican leaders. Since then, Republican leadership aides believe some of the more strident lawmakers have calmed down, learning the hard way through last year’s politically disastrous government shutdown that they can’t only say “no.”
Associated Press writers Erica Werner in Washington and M.L. Johnson in Milwaukee contributed to this report.