Historic 118th Congress: Five Indian-Americans celebrate their presence in the House of Representatives

Representatives Dr. Ami Bera, (CA-06), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08) and Shri Thanedar (MI-13) celebrated the largest representation of Indian American Members of Congress in U.S. history, January 11, 2023.

All five Indian-Americans were sworn into the 118th Congress on January 7, 2023, a first in U.S. history.

In a statement issued by all five, Bera recalled his entry into the House of Representatives 10 years ago in 2013, when he was the only Indian-American in the House, and the 3rd ever in the history of the country. His tenure came after 1957 when history was made with Dalip Singh Saund of California who was first elected to Capitol Hill and remained till 1963. The next Indian American to make it to the House was Bobby Jindal, the only Republican Indian-American, and former Governor of Louisiana.

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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,” noted Bera in a press release from the ‘Samosa Caucus’ as some have called it.

“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. 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!” Bera went on to say.

“As we enter the most diverse Congress ever, I am reminded how much representation matters, for every community and culture across our country,” Congresswoman Pramila Jaypal said. “I am a proud naturalized citizen, the first South Asian American woman elected to the House, and an immigrant woman of color.”

She said serving in Congress was a distinct honor, not only because she is able to deliver for her 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.”

She echoed Bera’s sentiments hoping that more Indian Americans would enter the halls of Congress in years to come. “I am so grateful to serve with such an inspiring cohort of fellow Indian Americans…,” she added

“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,” said Congressman Khanna. “I look forward to continuing our work together in the 118th Congress.”  

“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 Congressman Krishnamoorthi. “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 U.S. and India.”

“As a new member of Congress and the latest addition to an incredible group of Indian American law makers, I look forward to getting to work for the American people” said Congressman Shri 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,” Thanedar said, adding that he hoped to inspire future generations along with the other Indian-American lawmakers.

The lawmakers noted the outsize contributions made by this community to American society, including in tech, science, medicine, and the military.

Indian Americans currently serve as the CEOs of major companies including Microsoft (Satya Nadella), Google (Sundar Pichai), IBM (Arvind Krishna), and MasterCard (Ajay Banga).

Just last week, an Indian-American, Charania, was appointed to head technology policy at NASA; And at least two Indian-Americans, Sunita Williams and …. Chari, are astronauts.

Indian-American lawmakers in the House of Representatives pose for a photo together, from left, Representatives Ro Khanna, D-California; Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington; Shri Thanedar, D-Michigan; Dr. Ami Bera, D-California; and Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois. Photo: courtesy Office of Congressman Ami Bera.

But that is only a small number from the community which now occupies pride of place in as varied endeavors as the judicial system as judges and standup comics, theater actors, engineers, medicine and healthcare, start-ups, scientific research, heads of universities around the country, city mayors and other local and state elected officials, leaders of non-governmental organization like the right to choice organizations, civil rights groups, experts and advisors to the President, like the first Chief Technology Officer and Chief Information Officer, to mention just a few. Today, more than 130 Indian Americans serve in the Biden administration.

Following the 2016 election, Kamala Harris made history as the first Indian American to be sworn into the United States Senate. Senator Harris continued to make history in 2020 when she was elected as the first woman and first person of color in history to serve as Vice President of the United States of America.

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. 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, the lawmakers predicted in the press release.

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. And household incomes of Indian-American families are estimated as among the highest in the country.

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