An Incredibly Upsetting List of All the New Republican Congress Members
From the white guy who called Black Lives Matter a "terrorist group" to the other white guy who brags that he's convinced women to carry nonviable pregnancies to term, meet your new GOP reps!
Image by Gabby Bess
Earlier this week, the new members of Congress were sworn in by their dungeon master, Paul Ryan. That means we have 27 fresh-faced Republicans in office who are ready to lavishly enjoy their party's control of all three branches of government and ruin our lives.
Meet the right-wing's freshman class:
Rep. Andy Biggs (Arizona 5th District)
Friends of Andy Biggs would call him an "impeccable conservative," but people who aren't into deficit hawks who want to enforce even more austerity measures on working people might choose different words. Biggs ran to represent Arizona's 5th district in Congress on a platform of "defeating ISIS," balancing the federal budget, harsher criminalization of immigrants, and taking away people's healthcare. He won by 27 votes.
Before that, however, Biggs rose humble beginnings as a lawyer and the winner of a $10 million sweepstakes to become the leader of the Arizona State Senate, where he was known for using petty tactics against members he didn't like. A fellow Senate member, Kelly Townsend, has said that Biggs retaliated against her after she spoke up about the need for police reform. Townsend said that Biggs blocked most of the bills she introduced and that it got so bad she voted for a bill that she was against—a measure limiting lifetime welfare eligibility in Arizona to one year, making it the harshest limit in the US—just to appease Biggs, who wanted the bill to pass.
When he wasn't said to have been bullying members of the Arizona Senate, Biggs was voting in favor of legislation that would penalize sanctuary cities for immigrants and suing to block Medicaid expansion in the state in defiance of the Affordable Care Act. He also voted for harsh abortion restrictions in the state—which included a provision that would have mandated doctors to tell women they could "reverse" a medical abortion using an unproven procedure. And, along with a few dozen other fools, he signed a letter asking Attorney General Loretta Lynch to investigate Planned Parenthood following the release of two heavily edited videos put out by anti-abortion activists. The videos purported to show Planned Parenthood representatives discussing the sale of fetal tissue and have been debunked.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (Florida 1st District)
In 2010—two years after the son of a Florida state senator had the DUI charges against him dropped from an alleged drunk driving incident—Matt Gaetz ran for his first political office and began inflicting his personal nightmare on others en masse.
During his time as a member of the Florida House of Representatives, he was a fervent supporter of Florida's Stand Your Ground law. When protests erupted after a jury declined to convict George Zimmerman for fatally shooting unarmed teen Trayvon Martin under the statute, Florida Republicans ordered hearings to review the law. But Gaetz, who was picked to chair those hearings, made it clear that he had no plans to recommend repealing Stand Your Ground or "changing one damn comma." He called on the Tea Party to drum up support at the hearings to match the number of activists who were opposed to the law and, although Stand Your Ground has been shown to perpetuate racial bias in the criminal justice system, Gaetz rebuked any effort to point this out as "divisive politics." Not surprisingly, Gaetz has called the Black Lives Matter movement a "terrorist organization."
A supporter of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, Gazetz ran for US Congress and won on the promise to "fight Washington, restore America!" His extreme views align with Trump's on most issues: On immigration, Gaetz supports building a wall and wants to "crack down on sanctuary cities and the local officials that allow them to exist." He wants to exclude medical centers that provide abortion from Medicaid reimbursements, which effectively takes away healthcare options from poor women, and he is in favor of repealing the Affordable Care Act. Gaetz also wants to "abolish the Department of Education," dismantle regulations on corporations at the expense of regular people, prevent Syrian displaced refugees from entering the US, and cut taxes for the rich.
Rep. Neal Dunn (Florida 2nd District)
As a former urologist who has not previously held public office, Dunn's top issues are classically awful. He pretty much sticks to the establishment Republican's core script: Dunn wants to repeal Obamacare, lower taxes on the rich, outlaw sanctuary cities, restrict abortions and defund Planned Parenthood, increase military spending, and promote religious freedom laws that legislate discrimination against LGBTQ Americans.
Rep. John Rutherford (Florida 4th District)
Before John Rutherford was elected to Congress, he was a Florida Sheriff. Predictably, he's pro-police and anti-police reform. During a debate on the campaign trail, he called Black Lives Matter a "hate group," and here is an amazing quote from him that shows he has never actually considered anything that Black Lives Matter activists are fighting for: "This group, if you look at the rhetoric that's coming out, marching down the streets of New York talking about frying police officers like pigs in a, bacon in a blanket or something like that. Horrible rhetoric to attack police."
As a legislator, Rutherford has promised to increase military spending, oppose background checks for firearms, ramp up incarceration and deportation of immigrants living in the US without documentation, and restrict abortion access. Rutherford's one positive attribute is that he says he supports funding programs that would prevent the criminal justice system from being the default system to care for the mentally ill.
Rep. Brian Mast (Florida 18th District)
An Army veteran, Brian Mast lost both of legs in 2010 in the war in Afghanistan that "cost the United States more than 2,200 dead, thousands more wounded and at least $640 billion," according to the Nation. For people in Afghanistan the toll was even higher, even though the US entered into what Bush called the "the war on terror" under the guise of liberating both Americans and Afghanis. But Mast, in his run for Congress, doubled down on his support for US aggression overseas and has promised to back legislation that will enable Trump to "finish what we started and defeat global jihadists" and drag the US into more endless wars in the Middle East. Mast also supports Israel's illegal settlements in West Bank, which have been condemned by the United Nations, and will be an ally for Trump's plan to surveil the US-Mexico border using drones and put up more physical barriers.
Although he supports gay marriage and believes in climate change, Mast's domestic policy stances are still troubling. He wants to overturn Roe v. Wade and defund Planned Parenthood, and doesn't believe that the federal government should protect the rights of transgender people.
Rep. Francis Rooney (Florida 19th District)
A former businessman and Republican fundraiser, Francis Rooney is pretty much your typical right-wing figure. He opposes marijuana legalization and wants to slash the federal budget, repeal Obamacare, and defund Planned Parenthood. He has also shown that he will stick by President-elect Donald Trump: During his run for Congress, Rooney came out in support of Trump when when the recording of the then-presidential nominee boasting about sexually assaulting women came to light.
Rep. Drew Ferguson (Georgia 3th District)
This guy used to be a dentist. Unfortunately, he's now a freshman congressman who stokes fears about Syrian refugees and denies racial bias in policing.
Rep. Jim Banks (Indiana 3rd District)
As an Indiana senator, Jim Banks has already shown how little he cares about poor and working class families. Banks voted against expanding Medicaid, co-sponsored a bill to require drug testing for welfare recipients—which has proven to merely stigmatize people who apply to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, who are actually far less likely to use drugs than the general population—and co-sponsored a bill to end Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood.
A staunch opponent of reproductive rights, Banks helped pass an extreme anti-abortion bill last year that was eventually deemed unconstitutional. The bill would have prohibited "an individual from performing an abortion if he or she knows that the patient is seeking an abortion solely because of the race, color, sex, national origin, ancestry," which no one does. It also would have required women to bury or cremate fetal tissue. Previously, he sponsored a bill to defund Planned Parenthood in Indiana and arbitrarily require abortion clinics to have hospital admitting privileges and provide misinformation to women who want an abortion, which was also successfully challenged in court.
Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (Indiana 9th District)
As a first-time public servant, Hollingsworth bills himself as an "outsider, businessman, and Christian conservative." But perhaps more tellingly, all the images on his campaign website look like poorly staged stock photos that one could find by searching "white man pretending to do stuff."
Rep. Roger Marshall (Kansas 1st District)
This guy right here is the freshman congressman who grounded his son for dabbing next to Paul Ryan at the congressional swearing-in ceremony. Marshall's apparent authoritarian tendencies extend to his policy platform as well.
Even though he's an OB/GYN, he is staunchly anti-abortion and is open about how he has convinced his patients to carry non-viable miscarriages. On his website, he proudly displays a testimony from a woman who he convinced to continue carrying a non-viable pregnancy: "12 years ago, before politics were even on his mind, I was in the middle of a miscarriage. After the ultrasound, it was discovered that the baby's heart was still beating," the woman wrote. "I'll never forget what Dr. Marshall said to me: 'I will not take a living baby.'" She had a miscarriage a few days later.
He also wants to get rid of the Environmental Protection Agency and repeal the Affordable Care Act to ensure that we all live in a hellhole.
Rep. Clay Higgins (Louisiana 3rd District)
Before being elected to Congress, Clay Higgins was apparently a "YouTube star" known as "Cajun John Wayne," a distinction he earned by making bad, useless videos for the local Sheriff's department that encouraged wanted criminals to turn themselves in. According to Salon, Higgins was inspired by another reality TV celebrity, Donald Trump, to parlay his name recognition to political office after he was forced to resign from the Sheriff's office due to backlash from one of his videos. And here we are today, doomed.
Higgins' campaign mirrored Trump in almost every way, in both and lack of substance. His campaign website is a spectacular example of this: "I am not a politician. I don't have to form a committee to know my opinion on something. I don't need a focus group to tell me how I feel or what I believe. I speak my mind," he writes.
He goes on to list his platform, noting he's aligned with Trump's xenophobic, anti-immigration rhetoric, which he calls an "educated opinion from the perspective of a successful American businessman who loves his country and does not intend to quietly see it destroyed by career politicians, weak policy and political correctness."
Indeed, Higgins is anti-abortion and has compared women choosing to terminate their pregnancy to the Holocaust. He also appears to be against any regulations on guns. "The modern hysteria over guns is another example of our weakened society," Higgins writes. "Guns weren't really regulated at all prior to the 60s in America. Throughout our history, prior to just 50 years ago, a child could purchase a gun fro