Spanberger sworn in as U.S. representative in 7th District, says constituents ‘want Congress to start functioning’


Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, was sworn in with other members of the 116th Congress on Thursday and voted for Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., for House speaker, keeping a campaign promise she made not to support House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi was elected speaker for a second time as Democrats took control of the House as a result of the November election.

Spanberger said in a phone interview Thursday that she’s looking forward to focusing on the things affecting day-to-day life for her constituents.

“For most people across the district, they want Congress to start functioning,” she said.

Spanberger, 39, of Henrico County, upset former Rep. Dave Brat, who was seeking a third term, outraising him in a district that includes Democratic strength in the Richmond suburbs and Republican votes in rural portions of a district that stretches from Culpeper County down to Nottoway County.

“It’s incredibly exciting, and there’s just so much energy on the floor of Congress,” Spanberger said in her first interview since becoming a member of the House, just a few hours after being sworn in.

The former CIA officer and federal postal inspector ran on issues like health care, energizing suburban Democrats while trying to siphon Republican votes in rural areas in order to win in a district Republicans had held since 1971. Brat repeatedly tried to tie Spanberger to Pelosi, but Spanberger said she would not support Pelosi for speaker.

Spanberger said her vote for Bustos was straightforward — she was either going to do what she had said, or not. She said Bustos is what leadership in Congress should look like. Bustos, who has represented the district since 2013, is a former journalist, health care executive and member of the East Moline City Council.

Pelosi was aware Spanberger was not going to vote for her. “It is fantastic to have a woman speaker of the House again,” Spanberger said of Pelosi.

Spanberger held an open house for supporters at her office in the Longworth House Office Building on Thursday morning before heading to the Capitol with her husband, Adam; daughters, Catherine, Charlotte and Claire; and her parents and other family members.

The girls were on the House floor when members were sworn in as a group. Other family joined for a ceremonial swearing-in by Pelosi, held in the Rayburn room in the Capitol.

The House voted Thursday to end a partial government shutdown now in its 13th day, although the GOP-controlled Senate was not expected to follow suit.

The shutdown affects security agencies such as the FBI and Transportation Security Administration. “It is incredibly impactful on the functioning of our government,” Spanberger said.

“I’m proud that on the same day we’re sworn in … we’re taking the necessary actions to reopen the government.”

Spanberger awaits her committee assignments. In November, she named Roscoe Jones Jr. as her chief of staff. He was previously the legislative director for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

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