“It’s not just Democrat women that have the monopoly on breaking glass ceilings; Republican women have been doing it all their lives,” said Ms. Mace, the first woman to graduate from the Citadel, who last week defeated Representative Joe Cunningham, a centrist Democrat, to become the first woman to represent her state in Congress. “It doesn’t matter what your political affiliation is. If you want women to have a seat at the table, if you want to be in office, we have to run in order to win.”
But as the new members arrived on Capitol Hill, Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California and the minority leader, found himself defending a pair of newly elected members on his party’s far right: Ms. Greene, a QAnon follower, and Lauren Boebert of Colorado, who has made supportive comments about the viral conspiracy movement.
Mr. McCarthy claimed both had disavowed the group, which has been labeled a potential domestic terrorism threat, and urged reporters to “give them an opportunity” before seeking to characterize them. While Ms. Boebert has said she is not a follower of QAnon and Ms. Greene recently said she had chosen to follow “another path,” Ms. Greene has never denounced the group, whose convoluted theory claims falsely that a cabal of Satan-worshiping, pedophile Democrats is plotting against President Trump.
In an interview with reporters, Ms. Boebert, a Glock-toting conservative firebrand, stressed the historic nature of Republican gains for women. Just 13 Republican women held seats in the House this year, while at least 27 will when new members take office in January — surpassing a record high of 25.
“I am not only the first female to represent that district, but I am the first mom,” Ms. Boebert said. “It’s an incredible honor to bring those values to Washington, D.C., in a time where I think we need more common sense.”
In addition to a surge of Republican women, the freshman class diversifies Congress’s ranks: Marilyn Strickland, Democrat of Washington, is the first Black woman to represent her state in Congress and the first Korean-American elected; Ms. Bush is the first Black woman to represent Missouri; and Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres, both Democrats of New York, are the first openly gay Black men to serve in Congress.
Additionally, at least seven new members of Congress — including Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, the youngest member of Congress in the modern era — do not have college degrees.