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 from any seller, if daddy sent him with the money. Prior to just 50 years ago, a child could purchase a gun from any seller, if daddy sent him with the money."
Additionally, he vows to "protect marriage" and writes, "I define marriage Biblically, as between one man and one woman. That being said, I do not believe that love can be statutorily defined and I support every Americans right to pursue happiness as they see fit regarding the choice of whom they love. I have one very good gay friend, he lives in Nevada. If he decides to get married, within the legal parameters of his State, and if he invites me to the wedding, I'll attend if I am able. However... although I support the individuals freedom to marry... I also support a States right to regulate marriage and its definition according to the will of the people of that state. Further, I stand opposed to any state or federal mandate that requires an American citizen to betray their own moral fabric and be forced to participate in any endeavor or ceremony which is inconsistent with their religious convictions. Non-Traditional marriage is both an individual's rights issue and a States rights issue. I stand firmly rooted in my Constitutionally sound position on both."
Rep. Mike Johnson (Louisiana 4th District)
Mike Johnson could probably be replaced by a robot programmed to constantly talk about border security, cutting taxes, and how regulations are vaguely bad.
Rep. Jack Bergman (Michigan 1st District)
Bergman is a retired United States Marine Corps lieutenant and another standard Republican who believes in tax breaks for the wealthy and austerity for working people. He's also on board with his party's mission to repeal Obamacare, is anti-abortion, and opposes any form of amnesty for undocumented immigrants.
Rep. Paul Mitchell (Michigan 10th District)
Millionaire Paul Mitchell ran for Congress in 2014, spending $3.6 million of his own money, and lost. This year, however, he was successful on a blandly evil right-wing platform. His campaign focused on "growing the economy" by cutting taxes and regulations on businesses, a status quo policy that has historically delivered benefits to very few people, most of whom find themselves in the same tax bracket as Mitchell. Recent analysis has linked push for trickle-down economic growth to vast income inequality. In addition, Mitchell wants to further dismantle the social safety net.
He also supports reviving the Keystone XL Pipeline—which President Obama vetoed in 2015 due to its negative environmental impact—and "opening up more federal lands to energy exploration and development."
Rep. Jason Lewis (Minnesota 2nd District)
A former talk radio show host, Jason Lewis has been called a "mini-Trump." In addition to having similarly terrible hair, both men have terrible politics. According to the Atlantic, Lewis is a hard-right racist and misogynist. During a broadcast of his show in 2012, the publication reported, Lewis said white people were committing "cultural suicide" because they weren't procreating faster than Hispanic people. He also talked about how women voters who cared about birth control were "ignorant" and how people who lost everything in Hurricane Katrina were "a bunch of whiners." His policy platform is the same level of garbage.
Lewis and Trump are unfortunately similar in another way, too: The Democrats thought he would lose.
Rep. Don Bacon (Nebraska 2nd District)
Don Bacon, a former US Air Force Brigadier General, is another hype man for the balancing the budget and cutting regulations on corporations. He's also a proud pro-gun and an anti-abortion zealot: He supports 20-week abortion bans and defunding Planned Parenthood.
Rep. John Faso (New York 19th District)
On his campaign website, Jon Faso says he is a supporter for equal pay for women, but he voted against equal pay measures while he was in the New York State Assembly from 1987 to 2002. According to the New York Times, "Mr. Faso, the Republican candidate for governor, voted against bills to expand prenatal care; educate homeless children; give more generous pensions to government workers; create check-off boxes on state tax forms for contributions to diabetes research; and tree planting. When every other member of the Assembly voted for legislation declaring that men and women should get equal pay for comparable work, Mr. Faso voted no."
Also a staunch abortion opponent, Faso has called Roe v. Wade a "black mark" on the country.
Rep. Claudia Tenney (New York 22nd District)
Former New York Assemblywoman Tenney, one of two Republican women newly elected to Congress this year, has been affiliated with more hard-right factions, like the Tea Party. She's predictably anti-abortion and anti-gun control, and takes a far-right stance on most issues. She has said that "the states with the toughest gun control laws have the worst illegal gun crimes"—which is false—and has described herself as "Donald Trump and Ted Cruz before they came on the scene." In an interview with Fox News, she said that "we should not even have a minimum wage."
Rep. Ted Budd (North Carolina 13th District)
Gun shop owner Ted Budd ran for Congress by touting his "outsider status." He's never held a political office prior to this year, and that's why he wants to "take on the establishment." However, there's not much that separates him from your standard, scumbag Republican. He's anti-abortion, pro-gun, anti-gay marriage, and he wants to repeal Obamacare.
Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (Pennsylvania 8th District)
Brian Fitzpatrick is a former FBI agent who basically inherited the 8th district seat from his brother, former congressman Mike Fitzpatrick. Some reports have raised the suspicion that Mike started campaigning for his brother before Brian had resigned from the FBI, which would be in violation of the Hatch Act.
Though his campaign platform indicated that he is dedicated to "standing up for women and women's health," Fitzpatrick supports defunding Planned Parenthood. He is also against recreational marijuana legalization because he says "[marijuana] can be a gateway to other drugs."
Rep. Lloyd Smucker (Pennsylvania 16th District)
Lloyd Smucker, a former member of Pennsylvania's State Senate, takes a hardline on immigration, the federal budget, and national security. He wants to increase US military spending, already the highest in the world, "at a rate necessary to defeat ISIS," which is scarily vague. He also wants to "halt the unconscionable practice of selling fetal parts for profit," which is not a practice that actually takes place.
Rep. David Kustoff (Tennessee 18th District)
The pro-death penalty former Attorney General of Western Tennessee is bringing his "law and order" flair to Congress. When asked what his top three significant issues are, he said, "Fighting radical Islamic terrorism," "ending Illegal Immigration—securing our borders," and "repealing Obamacare." He is also in favor of overturning President Obama's executive order that granted work permits to undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children.
The "lifelong Republican" opposes marijuana legalization and supports gun rights. He is anti-abortion and wants to defund Planned Parenthood. And in addition, he supports the right of businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people and is anti-gay marriage.
Rep. Jodey Arrington (Texas 19th District)
A member of George W. Bush's gubernatorial and presidential administrations, Jodey Arrington ran for Congress on a platform of national security, limited government, and conservative values. He wants to roll back regulating bodies, like the EPA, increase the militarization of the US-Mexico border, and up military spending. He's also anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage.
Rep. Scott Taylor (Virginia 2nd District)
Scott Taylor is a former Navy SEAL and a member of the Virginia House of Delegates. During his time as a state legislator, he sponsored legislation to defund abortion clinics in Virginia.
Rep. Thomas Garrett, Jr. (Virginia 5th District)
Tom Garrett is a supporter of Trump's proposed wall at the US-Mexico border. He says he wants to "E.N.D. Illegal Immigration," or "erect the border wall," "no Benefits or employment for illegal aliens," and "defund sanctuary cities." As a Virginia State Senator, Garrett sponsored a bill to strip funding from sanctuary cities in the state, a bill that prevents in-state tuition rates from being extended to undocumented immigrants.
Garrett is also staunchly anti-abortion and has said, "I assure you that on issues of life, I will vote to protect the first and foremost inalienable right given to us by the Creator. No exceptions."
Rep. Mike Gallagher (Wisconsin 8th District)
A former Marine Corps captain who has no previous Washington experience, Gallagher is a fairly typical Republican although he billed himself as an anti-status quo candidate. He's anti-abortion, in favor of repealing Obamacare, increasing military spending, and rolling back EPA regulations. He has come out in support of limiting collective bargaining rights for public employees, like teachers, and has opposed minimum wage laws.
Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyoming at large)
Liz Cheney is the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney. Before she took over her dad's old House seat, she appeared as a commentator on Fox News. On her campaign website, Cheney says she will be "an unyielding advocate" for "our fossil fuel industry." In the past, she has been a vocal opponent of gay marriage and reproductive rights.