HomePoliticsRecord high 21 AANHPI members in the 118th Congress

Record high 21 AANHPI members in the 118th Congress

By Jessica Xiao, AsAmNews Staff Writer

Representative Shri Thanedar (MI-13) immigrated to the US from India at 24 years old, started eight businesses, and raised two sons. Because he had achieved the American dream, he told AsAmNews, it was time for him to give back, because a lot of people don’t have access to that dream anymore.

Yesterday, Thenedar, along with other incoming members of the 118th Congress, were sworn-in to office by Judge Florence Y. Pan in an event hosted by the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS).

According to Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies, a record 346 Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders ran for office in 2022—and there is a record high of 21 AANHPI members in the 118th Congress. Many of them were present last night.

Notably, there are two freshman members: Jill Tokuda (HI-2), who is also on the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus’ leadership as its freshman representative, and Thanedar (MI-13).

Just before the start of the ceremony, Thanedar asked if he could conduct his oath in his native language, Marathi. The APAICS team accommodated, and at the close of program, he read from a prepared translation he brought with him to Judge Pan. Depicted here standing with his wife, Shashi, and Judge Pan. Photo by Jessica Xiao.

Jim Moylan, Guam delegate, is also newly elected, and the first Republican Guam rep elected in 30 years.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8) sent a congratulatory video message expressing appreciation to the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC). Its Chair, Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-28), joked about making it through the long week (the many votes for Speaker of the House) it took to get to the swearing-in ceremony.  

Ted Lieu (CA-36) newly elected Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus (and first Asian American in that seat) lauded his colleagues for passing the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act in 2021.

“Now we have enough AAPIs at all levels of government to fight back,” he said.

Rep Chu continued to highlight recent leadership achievements of AANHPI congresspeople: Ted Lieu’s appointment as vice chair, Mark Takano (CA-41) as chair of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (“our first ‘Gaysian’,” Chu quipped), Bobby Scott (VA-3) as chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, and Pramila Jayapal as chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

She highlighted policy wins like the Hate Crimes Act, the bill to study creation of a national museum of AAPI history, ending the China Initiative that targeted Chinese American scientists, removing anti-Asian provisions in the CHIPS and Science Act, and representational wins—like the honoring of Patsy Mink with a congressional portrait, the first woman of color elected to Congress and champion of Title IX.

Representative Judy Chu, Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. Photo by John Robinson on behalf of APAICS.

She also iterated the significance of having DC circuit judge Florence Y. Pan conduct the oath: “She is the first Asian American woman to be appointed to the all-important DC Circuit Court, and that’s the court from which many Supreme Court justices arise,” Chu teased.

“CAPAC was first founded 30 years ago under the late Norman Mineta, when there was only a handful of AAPI members. Norm often joked there were so few of them, they would hold their caucus meetings in a phone booth—that is certainly no longer the case. I’m proud to lead this cause where we’ve leveraged our communities’ power on Capitol Hill,” said Chu.

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