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Friday, June 14, 2024

First Ghanaian elected to US Congress sworn in

Rep. Gabe Amo (D-R.I.) was sworn into the House, officially cementing him as the first Black individual to represent Rhode Island in Congress.

Amo, a former Obama White House aide, won a special election to succeed former Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) in the House last week, trouncing Marine veteran Gerry Leonard (R) for the seat representing the Ocean State’s First Congressional District.

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) administered the oath of office for Amo on the House floor Monday evening, which was followed by Amo’s first remarks as a congressman.

“Together, and why I’m here, is that we ensure our great hope for the future is met with profound action,” Amo said. “Action to protect and strengthen retirement security, support our seniors, create economic opportunity and good paying jobs, secure reproductive freedom and keep politics out of the doctor’s office, ensure the livability of our planet for our children and their grandchildren, ban assault weapons and end gun violence and stand up to the threats facing our democracy.”

“So this hallowed space, this House floor, is where we have always had to work vigorously towards the promise of our nation’s highest ideals and aspirations,” he continued. “And I cannot wait to work on behalf of the people of the First Congressional District.”

Amo’s swearing in brings the total number of lawmakers in the House to 434, with 221 Republicans and, now, 213 Democrats. That means for any partisan piece of legislation, Republicans can only afford to lose three votes, assuming all Democrats vote “no.”

Rep. Seth Magaziner (D-R.I.), the House’s other Rhode Island lawmaker, spoke to the historic nature of Amo’s election to Congress.

“As one of the original 13 states, Rhode Island has been electing representatives to the House since 1790. And in those 233 years, Rhode Island has never sent an African American or any person of color to Congress until today,” Magaziner said on the House floor. “But Gabe Amo will be the first to tell you, he did not come here to make history, he came here to make a difference.”

Amo will serve on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) announced Monday evening, pointing to the newly minted lawmaker’s family history.

“As the son of Liberian and Ghanaian immigrants and an experienced former Biden-Harris administration official, Congressman Amo will bring a unique perspective to this important committee during a pivotal time for America’s relationships around the world,” Jeffries said in a statement.

Cicilline retired from the House on June 1 to become the President and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation.

Amo thanked Cicilline for his contributions in Congress during his remarks on Monday.

“And of course, to my predecessor, former representative David Cicilline, I’m grateful for your service to Rhode Island. I look forward to our work together in both of our new roles,” he said.

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