Nation’s Youngest Congresswoman Touts Bipartisanship

By John Celock

The youngest woman ever elected to Congress is touting bipartisanship in a new ad as she seeks a second term.

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) released an ad Thursday touting her bipartisan work on medical care for veterans. Stefanik, 32, is running against Democrat Mike Derrick, a retired Army officer, in her bid for a second term representing New York’s North Country.

“A lot of people talk about bipartisanship but few people practice it,” Stefanik said in the new ad.

Stefanik is referencing her legislation to address the family caregivers program within the Department of Veterans Affairs. The bill, which Stefanik says she worked on with Republicans and Democrats, passed the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year.

Stefanik has taken a bipartisan approach to her work, including introducing several bills with one of the youngest Democrats in Congress. Last year, Stefanik teamed up with Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) to introduce legislation to expand online job training programs and earlier this year, Swalwell, 35, co-sponsored a Stefanik bill to reinstate the year-round Pell Grant program. The Pell Grant bill garnered support from multiple Democrats and Republicans.

Swalwell, who is leading millennial outreach for House Democrats, is the third youngest congressional Democrat and fourth youngest member of Congress currently serving.

Stefanik became the youngest currently serving member of Congress and the youngest woman ever elected to Congress when she was elected in 2014 at the age of 30. Prior to Stefanik’s election, the youngest woman to Congress ever elected was former Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman (D-N.Y.), who was 31 when she was first elected in 1972.

Former Rep. William Charles Cole Claiborne of Tennessee is the youngest ever member of Congress, first elected at the age of 22 in 1797. While under the constitutional minimum age of 25 to serve, Claiborne was seated by the House and served until 1801. Claiborne later served as governor of the Mississippi Territory, governor of the Orleans Territory and the first governor of Louisiana.

Stefanik stressed in the ad that she wanted to work on the issues facing veterans and their families.

“It is critical we do what we can to take care of our wounded warriors and those who care for them,” she said. “I will cross party lines any day to do that.”