Reps. Ritchie Torres and Teresa Leger Fernandez welcomed as newest members of the CHC
The 117th Congress’ Hispanic Caucus sees a new chairman, and new faces on Capitol Hill.
The newest members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have just been sworn in, both with history in tow.
In the end, only two proved successful.
Newly-elected Representatives Ritchie Torres (D- NY-15) and Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-NM-03) were sworn-in on Sunday, Jan. 3, and officially became part of the 117th Congress.
Torres, who made history by becoming the first LGBTQ Afro-Latino elected to Congress, has been appointed to the Financial Services Committee, putting him in a position to tackle an issue that was at the forefront of his campaign: The affordability crisis.
In June, Torres told AL DÍA that it’s the biggest crisis plaguing his district and the nation as a whole, saying he also wants to combat the cost of healthcare and higher education.
He wants to expand the child tax credit, the earned income tax credit, and to provide essential workers during COVID-19 with hazard pay.
Recently, Torres advocated for a $2,000 stimulus check as opposed to $600, since the latter doesn’t begin to cover a month of rent in his New York City district.
But most urgently, Torres wants to combat the housing crisis.
“Whenever you’re debating affordable housing, the question that should come to mind is affordable for whom?” he said.
Torres also has his sights sent on more than one caucus.
In mid 2019, he expressed interest in joining both the CHC and the Congressional Black Caucus, though it is yet to be seen if he will join the latter.
He also seeks to join the LGBTQ Caucus and the Progressive Caucus.
Joining him in the CHC is fellow progressive Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez. She enters Congress as the first Latina to hold the seat in her New Mexico district.
Leger Fernandez is also the first woman to hold the congressional seat since its creation in 1983. Her district overlaps with portions of the Navajo Nation and other indigenous communities in Northern New Mexico.
Her victory in the general election strengthened the Democratic hold in her state, largely driven by its Latinx leaders.
Rep. Leger Fernandez documented her first day as a sworn- in member of the 117th Congress on Twitter.
“New Mexico - I’m at your service in the People’s House. Thank you and let’s get to work!” she wrote.
— Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez (@RepTeresaLF) January 4, 2021
Over the course of her congressional bid, Leger Fernandez made it clear that progressive issues like the climate crisis, public lands, healthcare, and the disparities in her district will be at the forefront of her term.
First on the calendar was to vote for House Speaker.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi garnered another win from Congress, with supporting votes by Torres and Leger Fernandez.
The new CHC leadership includes new Chair Raul Ruiz (CA-39), First Vice Chair Rep. Nanette Barragán (CA-44), Second Vice Chair Rep. Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Whip Rep. Darren Soto (FL-09), and Freshman Rep. Fernandez (NM-03).