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Rep. Mayra Flores (R-Texas) was sworn in as the newest House member on Tuesday after making headlines last week for flipping Texas’s 34th Congressional District red.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) held a ceremonial swearing-in ceremony for Flores on the House floor at just after 6:30 p.m. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) stood beside her as she recited the oath of office. She was surrounded by members of the Texas delegation.
The House chamber erupted in cheers and applause when Flores completed the oath.
Flores was elected to fill the seat held by Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela (Texas), who resigned from office in March. She made headlines when she won the special election in the 34th Congressional District, which has traditionally been a Democratic stronghold.
The Texas Republican secured 51 percent of the vote, according to The New York Times. Democrat Dan Sanchez was her closest competitor, with 43.3 percent.
Flores’s victory made her the first Mexican-born congresswoman in American history. She left Mexico for the U.S. when she was 6 years old.
The win in the Lone Star State drove Republican optimism about Hispanic voters in the party.
National Republican Congressional Committee Executive Director John Billings wrote in a post-election memo that her win “is proof that Republicans have a winning message with Hispanic voters and that no Democrat is safe in the current political environment.”
Flores’s term expires at the end of January. In November, she will face off against Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas), who currently represents Texas’ 15th Congressional District. After redistricting, Gonzalez said he would run for reelection in the 34th Congressional District, which leans heavily Democratic.
In remarks from the House floor after her swearing in, Flores said, “I rise today to give a voice to the voiceless.”
“To say that the people who live and work in South Texas have had enough. We want to be heard and we are tired of being treated like second-class citizens,” she added.
The new congresswoman pointed to her journey from working in cotton fields to representing Texas in Congress.
“I have risen from working in the cotton fields to representing the community I love in the United States Congress. And I will give them a voice,” Flores said.
“I will use it to say our lives are not a game. Our people deserve to have opportunity, security, and freedom. And I will work every day to give it to them,” she added.
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) on the House floor called Flores’s swearing-in “inspiring.”
“On this day in 1788 the United States Constitution was ratified, making that remarkable document the law of this land. And it began with those immortal words, we the people,” Brady said.
“So 234 years to the day after that call to create a more perfect union, the U.S. House of Representatives makes history today with the inspiring swearing-in of the first Mexico-born member of congress, Mayra Flores of Texas,” he added.