Sunday, January 06, 2013
We're all familiar with the quote that "No man's life, liberty or fortune is safe while our legislature is in session," but this year poses added problems for folks with triskaidekaphobia.
That tongue twister of dread is the fear of the number 13.
This year, 2013, brings us the 113th Congress. And the shared final two digits of those reference points -- 13 -- represent this week's By the Numbers figure.
This new group of legislators enters inauspiciously.
The Republicans who hold the majority of the U.S. House seats are still fighting amongst themselves. A group of conservatives came very close to unseating House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) whom they resent for his fiscal negotiations with President Obama.
And on both sides of the aisle partisanship still rules over policy making.
This doesn't bode well for the 113th Congress to fare much better than the 112th when it comes to public opinion. Of course, with a public approval of only 10 percent and most folks rating the last Congress as the worst ever, things have got to get better, right?
So let's be hopeful. Here are some Congressional numbers to start 2013 that are more positive.
The 113th Congress is the most diverse ever.
There are 101 women in the 113th Congress, 20 in the Senate and 81 in the House, including three nonvoting members. That's a record number. And the Senate representation for three states -- California, New Hampshire and Washington -- is all female.
The new Congress has its first African-American senator from the Deep South, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), since Reconstruction.Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hi.) is the first Buddhist senator and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hi.) is the first Hindu in either chamber.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) is the first openly gay senator. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) is the first openly bisexual member of either chamber.
Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) is the first female combat veteran in Congress.
Even the numbers -- yes, that dreaded 13 -- could offer some hope for this group on Capitol Hill.
"It has been two centuries since the United States had a Congress enumerated with lucky 13," says Michael Koenigs at ABC News. The 13th Congress, which served 1813 to 1815 during the James Madison administration, ratified the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812. Not too shabby.
And elsewhere in the world, especially when connected to sports, the number 13 is considered lucky.
OK, it's not much, but I'm going forward with a positive attitude about the new Congress, at least until the sequestration and debt ceiling fights get ugly.
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