Women make little gains in new Congress
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Neither Republicans nor Democrats are expected to significantly expand their ranks of women in the new Congress that starts in January.

Women currently make up only about 20 percent of members in both the House and Senate. While more than a dozen new female candidates in both parties prevailed in Tuesday’s election, any net gains will be minimal.

House Democrats will be adding eight new women to their ranks in 2017, nearly all of whom will be replacing male incumbents.

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And in the Senate, four women will join the Senate Democratic caucus. 

But between retirements of female lawmakers in both chambers, those gains will mean the overall number of women in Congress will stay close to the same level as it is now. 

The lack of a major increase in women in Congress comes as Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies DNC, RNC step up cyber protections Gun proposal picks up GOP support MORE fell short in becoming the nation’s first female president.

Two of the new female senators will take the place of men. Catherine Cortez Masto will replace retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies Republicans are headed for a disappointing end to their year in power Obama's HHS secretary could testify in Menendez trial MORE (D-Nev.) and Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) will succeed Sen. Mark KirkMark KirkGiffords, Scalise highlight party differences on guns Stale, misguided, divisive: minimum wage can't win elections Immigration critics find their champion in Trump MORE (R-Ill.).

California Attorney General Kamala Harris, meanwhile, will replace Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerTrump riles Dems with pick for powerful EPA job Pelosi's chief of staff stepping down Time is now to address infrastructure needs MORE (D-Calif.) and New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan will replace Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteDems plan to make gun control an issue in Nevada Stale, misguided, divisive: minimum wage can't win elections Trump voter fraud commission sets first meeting outside DC MORE (R-N.H.).

All but one of the eight new female House members will be filling seats previously held by men. Nanette Barragan in California, Pramila Jayapal in Washington, Lisa Blunt Rochester in Delaware, Colleen Hanabusa in Hawaii, Jacky Rosen in Nevada, Stephanie Murphy in Florida, Val Demings in Florida and Carol Shea-Porter in New Hampshire will be among the new names in the House Democratic caucus.

Many of these women are also racial minorities, which offers Democrats one point of pride in an otherwise dismal election night.

Murphy is the first Vietnamese American woman elected to Congress, and Jayapal will be the first Indian American woman to serve.

Rochester and Demings are both the first women and first people of color to represent their respective districts.

“Each of these new voices is a beacon of hope for our movement,” said Stephanie Schriock, the president of EMILY’s List, which works to elect female candidates.  

But those eight gains are offset by the departures of seven female House Democrats. Duckworth and Reps. Donna Edwards (Md.), Ann KirkpatrickAnn KirkpatrickMajor progressive group endorses Martha McSally challenger Women make little gains in new Congress McCain wins sixth Senate term MORE (Ariz.) and Loretta Sanchez (Calif.) all ran for the Senate and thereby didn’t run for reelection in the House. Rep. Corrine BrownCorrine BrownGenuine veteran charities face a challenge beating the fakes Former Florida rep found guilty of tax evasion, fraud Corruption trial could roil NJ Senate race MORE (Fla.) lost her primary, while Reps. Lois Capps (Calif.) and Gwen Graham (Fla.) decided to retire this year. 

That’s compounded by the fact that the seven departing female lawmakers will be all replaced by men. Five of those incoming male lawmakers, however, are people of color. Duckworth’s successor, Raja Krishnamoorthi, is Indian-American, while Al Lawson in Florida and Anthony Brown in Maryland are both African American. 

Two more incoming California lawmakers, Salud Carbajal and Lou Correa, are both Hispanic.

Republicans managed to stave off losses of female lawmakers up for reelection in their ranks. All of the GOP women in competitive races — Reps. Barbara Comstock (Va.), Mia Love (Utah), Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), Martha McSally (Ariz.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.) — sailed to reelection.

Three female Republicans — Reps. Cynthia LummisCynthia LummisFemale lawmakers flee House for higher office, retirement Despite a battle won, 'War on Coal' far from over Dems on offense in gubernatorial races MORE (Wyo.), Candice Miller (Mich.) and Renee Ellmers (N.C.) — won’t be returning in the new Congress, which threaten to reduce their 23-member ranks in the House GOP conference.

Two new members of the House GOP conference will be women, which will help offset the three retirements. Claudia Tenney won an open seat in New York to replace retiring Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), while Liz Cheney will succeed Lummis.