The 114th Congress began its two-year session on January 6, marked by Republican party control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate following the November 2014 midterm elections. Holding 246 seats in the 435-member House, the Republicans have their largest majority in the chamber since 1947.

American voters often elect a divided government, with a president from one political party and Congress from the other. While some complain of a gridlocked U.S. government, American voters sometimes display a spirit of refusing to allow one political party to control both the executive and legislative branches. The president’s party frequently loses congressional seats in midterm elections.

The new Congress is more diverse than you might think.

  • There are 104 women — the largest female contingent in any Congress to date.
  • Among the female representatives are 30-year-old Elise Stefanik, the youngest woman ever elected to the House, and Mia Love, the first black female Republican to serve in the House.
  • African Americans are represented in both parties in both the House and the Senate for the first time, with an overall 44 members in the House and two in the Senate.
  • The 114th Congress also includes 37 Hispanics (34 in the House, three in the Senate), 10 Asian Americans and two American Indians.

Republican control of the Senate and House means Republican leaders and Republican committee chairs will choose hearing topics and control which bills emerge from committees.

The new Congress will seek to find common ground with President Obama on issues like immigration reform, climate change and trade promotion authority that challenged the 113th Congress.