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 UnderwoodHere are the Democrats who aren't co-sponsoring an assault weapons ban Khanna calls out progressives who haven't endorsed Lipinski challenger Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley dance to Lizzo's 'Truth Hurts' in video 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 StefanikBarbra Streisand calls for end to 'antiquated' Electoral College Republican lawmakers ask Trump not to delay Pentagon cloud-computing contract Rising number of GOP lawmakers criticize Trump remarks about minority Dems MORE (R-Calif.), Abby FinkenauerAbby Lea FinkenauerLobbying world Finish the work of building a renewable fuels industry GOP scores procedural win by securing more funding to enforce Iran sanctions MORE (D-Iowa) and Katie HillKatherine (Katie) Lauren HillLawmakers beat reporters in annual spelling bee competition Young insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight Polling director: Young voters swayed by health care, economy, gun control MORE (D-Calif.), as well as the youngest congresswoman ever elected, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezMarkey fundraises ahead of Kennedy primary challenge The Hill's Campaign Report: De Blasio drops out | Warren gains support from black voters | Sanders retools campaign team | Warning signs for Tillis in NC Progressives push for changes to Pelosi drug pricing plan 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."