118th Congress includes most Indian American members in US history
‘Samosa Caucus,’ as Indian American lawmakers have nicknamed themselves, celebrated their historic representation in the US Congress with India-born entrepreneur-turned-politician Shri Thanedar taking their strength to five — the highest in US history.
Thanedar, newly elected Democratic US House member from Michigan joined all four re-elected Indian American Democratic lawmakers — Dr. Ami Bera, Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna and Raja Krishnamoorthi — in celebrating the landmark on Jan 11.
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“When I first took office in 2013, I was the only Indian American member of Congress and the third ever in history,” recalled Bera, a physician who represents California’s 6th Congressional district, in a joint statement.
“Since that day, I have been committed to ensuring we grow our representation in Congress. In the past decade, I am proud to be joined by incredible Indian American colleagues from around the country—Representatives Jayapal, Khanna, and Krishnamoorthi.”
“With the swearing-in of the 118th Congress, our coalition has grown to a record number with the election of Representative Thanedar,” noted the doyen of Indian American lawmakers.
“It’s important that we reflect on the historic progress our country is making. I look forward to welcoming even more Indian American members of Congress in the future!”
“As we enter the most diverse Congress ever, I am reminded how much representation matters, for every community and culture across our country,” said Rep Jayapal, who represents Washington state’s 7th Congressional district. “I am a proud naturalized citizen, the first South Asian American woman elected to the House, and an immigrant woman of color.”
“Serving in Congress is a distinct honor, not only because I am able to deliver for my constituents, but because I am able to show other South Asians that if I can make it into the halls of Congress, so can they,” said Jayapal. “I am so grateful to serve with such an inspiring cohort of fellow Indian Americans and I look forward to seeing our numbers continue to grow!”
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“I’m so proud to serve in this diverse Congress alongside a record number of Indian Americans. Representation is crucial to serving Indian American communities and working to strengthen America’s defense and strategic partnership with India. I look forward to continuing our work together in the 118th Congress,” said Khanna, who represents California’s 17th district.
“As the Indian-American community remains one of our nation’s fastest growing, with a population of more than four million, I am excited to see our representation expanding in Congress as well,” said Raja Krishnamoorthi from Illinois, who coined the ‘Samosa Caucus’ phrase.
“I look forward to working with Reps. Bera, Jayapal, Khanna, and now Thanedar to continue to address the key issues facing our community, including high-skilled immigration reform and strengthening the partnership between the US and India,” he stated.
“As a new member of Congress and the latest addition to an incredible group of Indian American lawmakers, I look forward to getting to work for the American people” stated Thanedar.
“The American dream is alive when an immigrant from India can come to this country, earn a degree, become a citizen, start a business, and be elected by the people to represent them in the Michigan State House and the United States House of Representatives.”
“I hope to join Representatives Bera, Jayapal, Khanna, and Krishnamoorthi in growing our historic representation in Congress by inspiring future generations,” he added.
Indian Americans have made countless contributions to American society, including in tech, science, medicine, and the military, the joint statement noted.
Indian Americans currently serve as the CEOs of major companies including Microsoft (Satya Nadella), Google (Sundar Pichai), IMB (Arvind Krishna), and MasterCard (Ajay Banga). As of the 2010 census, 70% of Indian Americans over the age of 25 had college degrees, 2.5 times higher than the national average.
The first Asian American and Indian American Member of Congress was Dalip Singh Saund, who served in the US House of Representatives from 1957 to 1963.
In the 66 years between Saund’s election and the 2012 election of Ami Bera, Piyush “Bobby” Jindal was the only other member of Indian American descent elected to the legislative branch of the federal government.
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Following the 2016 election, Kamala Harris made history as the first Indian American to be sworn into the US Senate. Harris made history again in 2020 with her election as the first woman and first person of color in history to serve as US Vice President.
Harris’ historic success opened a door with Indian Americans across the country running for office at every level of government to ensure the community’s voice continues to be at the decision-making table, the statement noted.
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In the past decade, the number of Indian American voices in government has grown rapidly, with signs that the next decade will see the representation expanded even further, it said.
Bera, Jayapal, Khanna, Krishnamoorthi, and Thanedar were sworn into the 118th Congress on Jan 7.
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