A Record Number of Latinos Will Serve in Congress

PHOTO: The U.S. flag flies in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington as Congress works into the late evening Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012 to resolve the stalemate over the fiscal cliff.

J. David Ake/AP Photo

A record number of Latino lawmakers will be sworn into Congress on Thursday.

The 113th Congress will have three Hispanic senators and 33 Latino representatives, according to the House of Representative's online election results. Eleven lawmakers, including one senator, will be there for the first time.

See Also: 5 Latinos To Watch in 2013

While most, 28, are Democratic, 10 are Republican. And a handful are among the most conservative members of Congress. While most Latinos cast Democratic ballots, two of the three Latino senators, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, are Republican, and all gained widespread support outside the Latino community. Cruz, who has garnered the support of the Tea Party, a subsection of the GOP that some Republicans have derided as too far removed from the mainstream, will join the Senate, along with returning Democrat Bob Menendez and Rubio. Raúl Labrador is a conservative Mormon representative from Idaho.

Democrats will retain the Senate with a 55-45 lead, while Republicans will keep the House at 235-199, albeit with less of an advantage than they had in the last Congress.

Scandal-plagued Republican Representative David Rivera (Florida) is out, replaced by Democrat Joe Garcia, and Texas Democrat Pete Gallego will fill Republican Francisco "Quico" Canseco's seat.

While Hill stalwarts such as Representative Luis Gutiérrez (D-Illinois) and Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida), the longest serving Hispanic member of Congress, will remain, a host of charismatic freshmen will be sworn in as well. Democrat Joaquín Castro, San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro's twin brother, will represent Texas in the House, while four Latinos, three Democrats and one Republican, will begin representing California.

Latinos aren't the only group increasing the diversity of the new Congress. More women, 20, will join the Senate than ever before, while 81 will serve in the House. A handful of gay and lesbian representatives will serve in Congress, including the first openly bisexual member, Representative Kyrsten Sinema. The Senate will have its first Buddhist, and the House will have a Hindu serving for the first time.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) will remain head of the upper house, while House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is expected to remain in charge of the lower chamber. However, the speaker has had a difficult time keeping fellow Republicans in line recently. Several top party members broke with Boehner and voted against the recent fiscal cliff legislation.

He also faced the wrath of Republican lawmakers from New York and New Jersey for his failure to bring the superstorm Sandy relief package to the floor for a vote. But after he pledged that votes on relief funds would be held this month, several previously frustrated lawmakers, including Representative Pete King (R-New York), said they would once again vote to give Boehner another term as Speaker.

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Viewing America’s population through the lens of diversity, we will cover the social, cultural and political impact of various racial and ethnic groups in this country.

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