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New Democratic Hispanic House members voted party line for speaker, Republican Latinos split

10 new Hispanic Democratic Representatives voted for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, 3 Hispanic Republican Representatives voted for Rep. Kevin McCarthy and one new Latina Congresswoman with the GOP voted in line with the Freedom Caucus

January 5, 2023 8:36am

Updated: January 5, 2023 9:16am

The new Hispanic House Members who joined Congress after Jan. 3 have largely voted with their respective parties with the exception of one outlier, Republican Rep. Anna Paulina Luna from Florida’s West Coast 13th Congressional District. She is a Mexican-American originally from Santa Ana, California.

Seventeen Hispanics joined the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 3 after a Latin Wave swept the country helping the Latino community break the glass ceiling in America’s largest chamber and branch of government.

The 2022 midterm elections helped raise the number of Hispanics serving in the House from 38 to 45 with 34 Democrats and 11 Republicans, according to NALEO. 

All of the new Democratic members, which include Reps. Robert Garcia of California, Gabe Vasquez of New Mexico, Andrea Salinas of Oregon, Maxwell Alejandro Frost of  Florida, Yadira Caraveo of Colorado, Greg Casar of Texas, Delia Ramirez of Illinois, Rob Menendez Jr. of New Jersey and Gluesenkamp Perez of Washington state voted in line with the party to nominate Rep. Hakeem Jeffries.

While the new Democratic House Members voted in unity for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the new Hispanic Republicans were split 3-1 in favor of Rep. Kevin McCarthy with votes from Reps. Lori Chavez-DeRemer of Oregon, Juan Ciscomani of Arizona and Monica De La Cruz of Texas while Rep. Anna Paulina Luna of Florida voted with the Freedom Caucus against McCarthy.

Luna voted for Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio in her first three votes and then switched to Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida in line with 19 other Republicans who are currently obstructing McCarthy’s path to taking a leadership position in the lower chamber of Congress.

While Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio was a founding member of the Freedom Caucus, he has dissuaded its current membership from voting against McCarthy and even voiced his support for the former House Minority Leader in front of the entire chamber in a speech to make his position clear.

Shortly after Jordan’s speech in which he made clear he was not interested in taking the position from McCarthy, the rebelling Freedom Caucus members repositioned and threw their support behind Donalds instead.

Luna’s start to Congress has been noticeable in both her vote against McCarthy and also recent allegations she made that she was sexually harassed in the U.S. Capitol when leaving her office and that she was falsely accused of “witchcraft.”

Her comments were aimed at a Daily Beast reporter who followed her while asking questions.

"When you’re a woman who stands up to the swamp, you are sexually harassed leaving your office, accused of having sex with members, being a witch, and more lies," Luna tweeted, a social media post which included a video she made to prove she was being followed by Daily Beast reporter Zachary Petrizzo who tried to interview the new Congresswoman.

“This is why we must drain the swamp,” she said. “This is not journalism. Is this how female reps are treated?”

The video, which has now been viewed more than 1.2 million times on Twitter, shows Petrizzo peppering Luna with a series of questions as he followed her through the Capitol and into the street.

The new Hispanic numbers in Congress mark the first time Hispanic legislators will make up over 10% of the 435-member House of Representatives. 

NALEO's total count may be distinctive from the U.S. House of Representatives tally and those of other organizations because of whether candidates are identified as Latino or Hispanic.

Some groups include members of Portuguese descent in their totals, but NALEO uses the federal definition of Hispanics, defined as “individuals whose origin is Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or any other Spanish-speaking country.”