Washington — This week, the 116th Congress bought right down to enterprise regardless of the federal government shutdown. One new member has a novel perspective. Illinois’ Lauren Underwood spoke from the Home flooring for the primary time Wednesday. 

She’s a former federal worker who was furloughed throughout a shutdown in 2013. At 32, she’s the youngest black lady ever elected to Congress.

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One in every of Underwood’s first orders of enterprise was choosing an workplace. Getting an area massive sufficient for her new workers is a recreation of likelihood. All 85 new members actually draw numbers out of a field. The decrease the quantity, the higher the workplace. Underwood drew quantity 70.

New members at all times come into Washington satisfied they will change the place and Underwood isn’t any stranger. She was a congressional intern simply 13 years in the past and she or he’s a former Obama administration official, who helped implement the Reasonably priced Care Act.

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As a registered nurse and somebody with a pre-existing situation, well being care — the subject on the high of most voters minds — can be on hers.

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“It is very clear well being care is the primary situation on this election. Pushed primarily round affordability. I believe we have to shortly present the American people who we’re severe about fixing the well being care system,” Underwood mentioned.

The sheer variety of new, younger, feminine lawmakers like Underwood is injecting a brand new degree of power and depth into Washington.

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Rep. Lauren Underwood speaks with CBS Information’ Ed O’Keefe.

CBS Information


“I’m in a automotive on my manner, dashing late to the Capitol,” she mentioned in a video diary for CBS Information. “We have now to select up our voting playing cards, our particular member pins and get mainly lined up so we could be on the ground of the Home for the midday convening.”

However the hope and optimism of those new freshmen — who normally haven’t got a lot sway — is tempered by actuality, this time within the type of a partial authorities shutdown.

Strolling via the basement of the Capitol, Underwood spoke about being a furloughed federal worker. Again in 2013, she was compelled to remain house for about three weeks with out pay.

“I understand how unacceptable it’s, that is the nuclear choice,” she mentioned. “It is ridiculous.”

Minutes after being sworn in, Underwood took time to greet supporters in her new workplace. She is not letting the cruel realities of Washington get to her — at the very least not but.

“The day of enterprise as ordinary on this Congress is completed and the chance when the folks of the 14th elect a 32-year-old lady to Congress and we discover issues that folks assume have been dealt with or not. We’re right here for enterprise, and I am able to get began,” Underwood mentioned.

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