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Military Vets Head for the House: Meet the Next Freshmen

A veritable platoon of military veterans, including a former Marine who participated in a rare combat mission to rescue a prisoner of war, is ready to march onto the House floor as new members of Congress.

Rep.-elect Van Taylor (R-Texas) led a 2003 mission in Iraq to evacuate 31 wounded Marines in the Battle of Al Nasiriyah in Iraq. He was part of a mission to rescue Army soldier Jessica Lynch from behind enemy lines.

It was the first successful U.S. rescue of a prisoner of war since World War II.

With some veterans in races that have yet to be called, it’s clear that the next freshman class will have at least 15 people who served in some branch of the military.

Newly elected House members also include a rap artist, a refugee from Somalia, a former NFL wide receiver and linebacker, some entrepreneurs, two — maybe three after the final counts — who grew up with a congressman dad.

-Click here to explore BGOV’s directory of members-elect-

Mitt Romney, the former presidential nominee, will be near the bottom of the seniority ranks of the Senate. Greg Pence (R-Ind.), the vice president’s big brother, will join the House, where Mike Pence served before being elected governor.

Record Number of Women

Women will have a historically high presence in the 116th Congress. With several races yet to be called, at least 95 women had been elected to the House as of early Wednesday morning. The record number of women serving is

“I hope we’ll be a part of solving problems,” said Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.), one of four women elected from her state, which currently has an all-male delegation.

Texas is sending the first two Hispanic women that state ever elected to Congress. They are Democratic Reps.-elect Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia.

And there will be two Muslim women, Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). Omar is a Somali refugee and Tlaib is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants.

Green Beret

Other military veterans include Michael Waltz (R-Fla.), a former Green Beret who led a search in Afghanistan for Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl following the soldier’s disappearance in 2009.

Former Navy pilot Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) won an open New Jersey seat of retiring Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen(N.J.), a Republican who served in the Vietnam War. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Sherrill flew helicopter missions in the Middle East and Europe, retiring as a lieutenant commander in 2003.

Rep-elect Jim Baird (R-Ind.) lost an arm in Vietnam after being drafted in the Army.

One of Baird’s future Republican House colleagues, Dan Crenshaw (Texas), is a former Navy SEAL who lost sight in his right eye when he was seriously injured in Afghanistan by the explosion of an improvised explosive device. Later Crenshaw worked as a military legislative assistant to Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), who lost his re-election bid.

Other former congressional staffers about to move up to the big office as lawmakers include Reps.-elect Lori Trahan (D-Mass.), Chip Roy (R-Texas), Kendra Horn (D-Okla.), and Ben Cline (R-Va.).

Two former Central Intelligence Agency agents won election to the House: Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), who once was deployed in combat zones of Iraq, and Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), who worked overseas managing intelligence gathering.

Omar fled Mogadishu during the civil war in Somalia and lived for four years in a refugee camp in Kenya.


Air Force veteran Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) and his wife run Silverback Distillery in Afton, Va.

Rep.-elct David Trone (D-Md.) owns Total Wine and More, a wine retailer outside Washington. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), and his wife own 10 Tulsa-area McDonald’s restaurants.

Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) ran the family distillery business before starting Talenti Gelato.

NFL Veterans

Sports figures are also will be joining the new team.

Former National Football League wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio) caught touchdown passes from Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and played on two Ohio State football teams that were Big Ten champions.

Rep.-elect Colin Allred (D-Texas) played football at Baylor University before he signed with the Tennessee Titans as a linebacker.

Sharice Davids (D-Kan.), an American Indian, is a former professional mixed martial arts fighter.

There’s also a National Teacher of the Year. That honor went to Rep.-elect Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.) in 2016.

Congressman Dad

Legacy lawmakers — offspring of former members of Congress — in the freshman class will include Andy Levin (D-Mich.), who was elected to succeed his father, 18-term Rep.Sander Levin. His uncle is former Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.).

Rep.-elect Carol Miller (R-W.Va.) is the daughter of Samuel L. Devine, who represented Ohio in the House from 1959 until 1981.

As for the rap artist, it’s Rep.-elect Antonio Delgado (D-N.Y.), who’s also a Rhodes scholar and Harvard-educated lawyer.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Rowley in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Katherine Rizzo at; Bennett Roth at; Robin Meszoly at

The post Military Vets Head for the House: Meet the Next Freshmen appeared first on Bloomberg Government.

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