Legislative Figures

Since the 115th Congress, Asian/Pacific Islander American representation has been increasing. The 115th Congress had 18 A/PIA legislators and the 116th Congress had 20 A/PIA legislators. For comparison, in the 99th Congress (1985-1986), there were five A/PIA members in Congress. There are currently 21 A/PIA members serving in the 117th Congress. Notably, three—who were sworn in on January 3, 2021—are the first Korean American women to ever serve in Congress. Though representation have been slow to come, these five legislators are all important members of the A/PIA community who are paving the way for greater change to come. 

January 3, 2017

Pramila Jayapal

the first Indian-American woman to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Tammy Duckworth

the first Thai American woman and the first person born in Thailand to be elected to Congress. She is also the first woman with a disability elected to Congress and the first senator to have given birth while serving in office. She is also the second (of three) Asian American women to have ever served in the United States Senate. 

January 3, 2017
January 3, 2015

Ted Lieu

the U.S. Representative for California’s 33rd congressional district, serving this third term. 

January 3, 2013

Mazie Hirono

assumed office as United States Senator from Hawaii. Hirono is the first elected female senator from Hawaii, the first Asian American female senator, the first U.S. senator to be born in Japan, and the first U.S. Senator of Buddhist faith.

Mark Takano

assumed office as Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California’s 41st district. Takano is the first openly gay Asian American and person of color to be elected to U.S. Congress.

January 3, 2013
June 28, 2010

Daniel Inouye

assumed office as President pro tempore of the United States Senate. Inouye is the first Japaense American to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. To date, Inouye is the only senator to recieive both the Medal of Freedom and the Medal of Honor.

Joseph Cao

assumed office as Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana’s 2nd district. Cao is the first Vietnamese American and first native of Vietnam to serve in U.S. Congress. He is also the first Republican to be elected from his New Orleans-based district in over a century.

January 3, 2009
January 3, 1993

Bobby Scott

assumed office as Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia’s 3rd district. Scott is the first Filipino American to serve as a voting member of Congress and only the second African American representing the State of Virginia elected to Congress.

Patsy Mink

assumed office as Member of the
United States House of Representatives
from Hawaii. Mink is the first woman of color elected to Congress, the second woman from Hawaii, and the first Japanese-American woman to practice law in Hawaii.

September 22, 1990
May 16, 1990

Daniel Akaka

assumed office as U.S. Senator from Hawaii, becoming this first U.S. Senator of Native Hawaiian ancestry.

Hiram Fong

assumed office as United States Senator from Hawaii. Fong is the first person of Chinese descent elected to Congress, the first Asian American elected to the Senate, and the only Republican Senator ever elected from Hawaii.

August 21, 1959
Janurary 3, 1957

Dalip Singh Saund

assumed office Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California’s 29th district. Saund is the first Asian American, and first Indian American to be elected to the U.S. Congress, as well as the first member of a non-Abrahamic faith to join the U.S. Congress.

Sources:

Manning, Jennifer E. “Membership of the 116th Congress: A Profile.” Congressional Research Service, December 17, 2020.

People Search.” US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives. Accessed January 9, 2021.

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