Youngest black congresswoman says millennial colleagues have 'less fighting over partisan nonsense'

Youngest black congresswoman says millennial colleagues have 'less fighting over partisan nonsense'
© Greg Nash

Rep. Lauren UnderwoodLauren UnderwoodSerena Williams, Mark Cuban invest in company working to end black maternal mortality Freshman members form bipartisan task force on election vulnerabilities ahead of 2020 The Hill's Campaign Report: Debate puts Biden on the defensive MORE (D-Ill.) said the newly elected millennials in the House are able to reach across party lines and look beyond "partisan nonsense," in a Bon Appetit interview published Monday.  

At 32, Underwood became the youngest black woman ever elected to Congress last year. But she's by no means the sole millennial representing the 35-and-under cohort, with young lawmakers elected by Republican and Democratic voters in the 2018 midterms. 

"It's a wonderful time to be able to do bipartisan work on issues that are so important to folks in our generation," the freshman representative, a nurse, told the magazine.

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Underwood said it's not "necessarily easier" to work with millennial lawmakers across the aisle, but "there's less fighting over partisan nonsense."

"We all agree that top-of-mind issues like the student loan crisis and climate change are a problem, and now we can jump over that argumentative phase and go toward a solution," she said. 

Fellow millennial freshmen lawmakers include Reps. Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikRepublican lawmakers ask Trump not to delay Pentagon cloud-computing contract Rising number of GOP lawmakers criticize Trump remarks about minority Dems Overnight Defense: Woman accusing general of sexual assault willing to testify | Joint Chiefs pick warns against early Afghan withdrawal | Tensions rise after Iran tries to block British tanker MORE (R-Calif.), Abby FinkenauerAbby Lea FinkenauerFinish the work of building a renewable fuels industry GOP scores procedural win by securing more funding to enforce Iran sanctions Youngest black congresswoman says millennial colleagues have 'less fighting over partisan nonsense' MORE (D-Iowa) and Katie HillKatherine (Katie) Lauren HillHouse Dems, Senate GOP build money edge to protect majorities Live coverage: House Oversight examines Trump family separation policy Lawmakers urge young women to run for office at DC conference MORE (D-Calif.), as well as the youngest congresswoman ever elected, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez tears into Trump's immigration agenda: 'It's about ethnicity and racism' George Takei: US has hit a new low under Trump #IStandWithErica trends after Georgia Democratic lawmaker says she was told to 'go back where you came from' MORE (D-N.Y.).

But while Underwood's age may aid her in legislating, it also poses some more day-to-day problems. 

Underwood told Bon Appetit she wears her member pin on a necklace — not wanting to poke "holes in all my stuff" — and that Capitol Police have often mistaken her for a staffer.

"So it's like, I have to make eye contact with this person and make sure they see me walking in so we don't have a problem," she said. "I think that is very much a function of being a young, black woman in a space where there hasn't been someone like me—as young as I am and probably look—ever. Every week I get stopped and told I'm not supposed to be where I am."

Underwood said that despite the hurdles, she knows this is exactly where she's meant to be. 

She told Bon Appetit her favorite moment so far has been presiding over the House for the vote regarding protecting pre-existing conditions under the Affordable Care Act. 

The vote was personal for Underwood, a nurse who has her own pre-existing heart condition.

"You know how there are those life moments where you know you're in the right place, doing exactly what you're meant to do?" she said. "I call that living your best life. And I was living my best life yesterday. I was standing there looking at my colleagues, just beaming."