Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez presided over the House floor this past Friday, becoming the youngest woman to ever run the House from the Speaker’s chair.
AOC’s excitement over having had the opportunity to do so was infectious, sparking viral coverage of the momentous event. “Today I presided over the House floor for the first time,” she tweeted after the experience. “Every day here is a sacred privilege + responsibility entrusted to me by my community. I never forget that, and moments like these drive it home. Thank you to the people of NY14 + beyond. This House belongs to all of us.” The congresswoman is constantly reminding her followers how to never take their civic duty for granted, and is consistently so enthusiastic about her work that you’d have to go out of your way to be a cynic about it. “That was my first time presiding. And it’s exciting. It’s certainly a view. I wish we could, I wish we were allowed to take photos,” she told reporters afterwards.
Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer, Democratic representative of Iowa’s 1st congressional district, presided over the House on Friday as well, becoming the second youngest woman ever to do so. (Finkenauer was 29 years old when she was elected and turned 30 shortly before her inauguration into office this year.) Speaker Pelosi chose Finkenauer to preside over the nearly $20 billion supplemental relief package for communities affected by natural disasters, including communities within the young congresswoman’s district that have sustained an estimated $2 billion in damage from recent floods on the Mississippi flood plains.
The bill also includes funding for Puerto Rico to apply toward the damage that still exists from Hurricane Maria, a provision to which President Trump had objected. The funding still needs to make its way through the Senate as well as get final approval from the President. Representative Nydia Velázquez of New York — if you recall, the first Puerto Rican woman to have ever been elected to Congress — urged her fellow elected officials while on the floor Friday, “I pray, pray this bill, which rightfully assists so many other parts of the union, of our nation, will motivate the Senate at last to act and the president to sign this badly needed aid into law. This is a matter of life and death for so many in Puerto Rico.”
Despite President Trump’s efforts to sway House Republicans to vote against the disaster relief package — which, by the way, would have delayed disaster relief for every community that has been awaiting relief funding — dozens of Republicans crossed party lines in order to do right by their constituents. “Folks aren’t asking for a handout — they just want a government that will have their backs,” said Finkenauer in a statement praising the bipartisan passage of the bill. “I was honored to preside over the House floor as Republicans and Democrats came together to pass this critical piece of legislation.”