The 116th U.S. Congress is already historic. It reflects the diversity of our country better than any previous Congress, with the highest numbers of women and people of color in history. Nancy Pelosi, the first and only female speaker of the House, has regained her gavel. New members include the first ever Native American Congresswomen, Muslim Congresswomen and the youngest Congresswoman in history.
This Congress is poised to make history on policy, as well. It will make significant strides in the fight to expand Social Security and Medicare. The incoming chair of the Social Security Subcommittee, Representative John Larson (D-CT), has told Social Security supporters that he will hold hearings on expanding Social Security early in the new Congress. And, on the first day of this new Congress, House Democrats announced that they will be holding hearings on Improved Medicare for All as well.
These hearings are a major development. They will mark the first time the House of Representatives has held hearings on expanding Social Security in almost half a century and the first time ever on improving Medicare and expanding it to cover all Americans. (Three-quarters of a century ago, the Senate, but not the House, held hearings on a national health insurance bill.)
The fact that the most diverse Congress in history will be prioritizing these issues, which are important to all of us, but especially to women and people of color, is no coincidence. Representation matters.
Expanding Social Security and improving Medicare and expanding it to everyone represent the strong will of the people. Indeed, in the lead-up to November’s election, two out of three voters said that they were more likely to vote for a candidate who favored expanding, not cutting, Social Security and nearly the same percentage, 64%, said that they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who favored expanding Medicare. Not surprisingly, virtually all of the new members ran on expanding Social Security and Medicare.