By Heather Brown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – On Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden swore in 71 new members to the 114th Congress, including the first Black Republican woman elected to the U.S. House from Utah. This group of 535 people is now the most diverse in U.S. history.

So, who makes up our Congress? Good Question.

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When it comes to race, 83 percent are white, compared with 63 percent of the general U.S. population.  Nine percent are black, six percent are Hispanic, two percent are Asian-American and just two members are Native American.

Ninety-two percent of Congresspeople are Christian, compared with 73 percent of Americans. Five percent are Jewish and just two members are Buddhist. Two are Muslim and one is Hindu.

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“Looking at roll call votes on the House and Senate floor, party matters more than any other factor,” said Kathryn Pearson, a political science professor at the University of Minnesota. “But, if you look at bill sponsorship or the agenda that individual members try to forward, that’s where you see the effects of religion, or of race or of gender.”

Eighteen percent are veterans, compared with seven percent of the U.S. population. That percentage has dropped significantly since the 1960s and 1970s, when close to three-quarters of Congresspeople were vets.

The median net worth in Congress is $1 million and the median net worth for Americans is $45,000. Women make up 20 percent of members of Congress. The average age is 57, and there are 184 lawyers.

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“Running for office takes a lot of political connections, personal connections and a lot of resources,” Pearson said. “So, change is very slow, especially in an institution with such high reelection rates.”

Heather Brown