Legislative Figures

Since the 115th Congress, Asian/Pacific Islander American representation has been increasing. The 115th Congress had 18 A/PIA legislators and the 116th Congress had 20 A/PIA legislators. For comparison, in the 99th Congress (1985-1986), there were five A/PIA members in Congress. There are currently 21 A/PIA members serving in the 117th Congress. Notably, three—who were sworn in on January 3, 2021—are the first Korean American women to ever serve in Congress. Though representation have been slow to come, these five legislators are all important members of the A/PIA community who are paving the way for greater change to come. 

  • January 3, 2017

    Tammy Duckworth

    assumed office as United States Senator from Illinois. Duckworth is the first Thai American woman and the first person born in Thailand to be elected to the U.S. Congress. She is also the first woman with a disability to be elected to Congress and the first senator to have given birth while serving in office. Duckworth is the second of three Asian American women to have ever served in the U.S. Senate.

  • January 3, 2013

    Grace Meng

    assumed office as Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York’s 6th District. Meng is the first and only Asian American member of Congress from New York State.

  • January 3, 2013

    Mazie Hirono

    assumed office as United States Senator from Hawaii. Hirono is the first elected female senator from Hawaii, the first Asian American female senator, the first U.S. senator to be born in Japan, and the first U.S. Senator of Buddhist faith.

  • January 3, 2013

    Mark Takano

    assumed office as Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
    from California’s 41st district. Takano is the first openly gay Asian American and person of color to be elected to U.S. Congress.

  • June 28, 2010

    Daniel Inouye

    assumed office as President pro tempore of the United States Senate. Inouye is the first Japaense American to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. To date, Inouye is the only senator to recieive both the Medal of Freedom and the Medal of Honor.

  • January 3, 2009

    Joseph Cao

    assumed office as Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
    from Louisiana’s 2nd district. Cao is the first Vietnamese American and first native of Vietnam to serve in U.S. Congress. He is also the first Republican to be elected from his New Orleans-based district in over a century.

  • January 3, 1993

    Bobby Scott

    assumed office as Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
    from Virginia’s 3rd district. Scott is the first Filipino American to serve as a voting member of Congress and only the second African American representing the State of Virginia elected to Congress.

  • September 22, 1990

    Patsy Mink

    assumed office as Member of the
    United States House of Representatives
    from Hawaii. Mink is the first woman of color elected to Congress, the second woman from Hawaii, and the first Japanese-American woman to practice law in Hawaii.

  • May 16, 1990

    Daniel Akaka

    assumed office as U.S. Senator from Hawaii, becoming this first U.S. Senator of Native Hawaiian ancestry.

  • August 21, 1959

    Hiram Fong

    assumed office as United States Senator from Hawaii. Fong is the first person of Chinese descent elected to Congress, the first Asian American elected to the Senate, and the only Republican Senator ever elected from Hawaii.

  • Janurary 3, 1957

    Dalip Singh Saund

    assumed office Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
    from California’s 29th district. Saund is the first Asian American, and first Indian American to be elected to the U.S. Congress, as well as the first member of a non-Abrahamic faith to join the U.S. Congress.

Sources:

Manning, Jennifer E. “Membership of the 116th Congress: A Profile.” Congressional Research Service, December 17, 2020. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R45583.pdf.

“People Search.” US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives. Accessed January 9, 2021. https://history.house.gov/People/Search.