New Faces in Congress is a diary series meant to highlight our new and diverse members of Congress in the Democratic Party. These 36 House freshmen range from political neophytes to seasoned legislative veterans. The series will run every Sunday morning, bright and early.
Last week, the New Faces in Congress series continued with a profile on Rep. Robert Garcia from California’s 42nd district. If you missed it, feel free to click on this link to read all about him!
Believe it or not, this member of Congress is only the third Democratic representative to be elected out of the state of Vermont in the last 100 years. She is also the first lesbian representative and the first woman representative out of the state as well. It seems that this member of Congress has also made a good first impression on her colleagues as well!
How did Vermont break these notable streaks you ask? Well, first Sen. Patrick Leahy had to retire after a very long senatorial career. Then, Rep. Peter Welch had to seek a promotion for said Senate seat to vacate the at-large House seat in Vermont. That set up the usual crowded primary election, in which this member of Congress romped in. It wasn’t even close!
Today, the spotlight is on Rep. Becca Balint!
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Rep. Becca Balint (Vermont At-Large)
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Rep. Becca Balint’s campaign website has the goods on her background. Parts of her family were killed in the Holocaust, amongst other facts about her background.
Born in Germany in a U.S. Army hospital, she grew up in upstate New York with her family and two siblings. She is the daughter of an immigrant dad and a working-class mom, and her parents never took for granted the rights and privileges provided by the U.S. Constitution. Her grandfather was killed in the Holocaust, and her father’s family saw firsthand the cruelties people can perpetrate when the law does not protect the most vulnerable, or when people turn away from each other and refuse to confront burgeoning division in their communities. Becca made the choice to always lead with compassion, kindness, and with a deep commitment to alleviating suffering.
This video nicely encapsulates the background of Rep. Becca Balint, as well as promotes a few of her legislative priorities. It is worth the watch, especially has some of her former students chime in!
Her official House website describes what she accomplished in the state legislature before joining Congress. It also expounds on her educational background and her role in the 118th Congress.
While Majority Leader of the Vermont State Senate, Becca led the passage of the first gun safety laws in the state’s history, aimed at keeping Vermont children, communities, and survivors of abuse safe. Becca also worked tirelessly in the state senate to secure the largest housing investment in Vermont in decades to rebuild housing stock and expand middle income housing.
This Congress, Becca will serve as Congressional Progressive Caucus Vice Chair for New Members and as a Co-Chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus. She is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, the Oversight and Accountability Committee and the Budget Committee.
She received her BA from Smith College in Northampton, MA, graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. Becca earned her masters in education from Harvard University in 1995 and her MA in history from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 2001.
As with many of her colleagues, CSPAN has interviewed her. It is about 9:00 long, but it perfectly captures her background and her hobbies. Apparently, she is an avid motorcycle rider amongst other things!
Vermont has never been represented by someone with the background similar to Rep. Becca Balint. Sure, they’ve elected staunch progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders before, but an openly lesbian woman representative? That’s a new frontier for the state!
Notable Media Headlines
With the notoriety of Sen. Bernie Sanders in the state and the nation, it may be difficult for another Vermont based politician such as Rep. Becca Balint to break through. She has managed to do so on several occasions, especially surrounding the debt limit debate, the attempt to expel Rep. “George Santos”, and most recently an attempt to censure Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.
First came the attempt to expel “George Santos”. Balint was one of the leaders pushing for this expulsion, and she went on the talk show circuit to explain the reasons behind the push. Here she is with Lawrence O’Donnell.
Balint also went on the talk show circuit right around the time of the debt ceiling debacle. She didn’t like the Bipartisan Debt Ceiling Deal, but she reluctantly voted YES for it. Here she gives her reasoning for voting yes on MSNBC, as well as calling for the abolition of the debt ceiling entirely.
Finally, Rep. Becca Balint led the charge to censure Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene after the latter decided to display pornographic dick pics on the House floor. The Hill has more on this development.
First-term Rep. Becca Balint (D-Vt.) is leading a resolution to censure Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) over her controversial comments and actions, with the most recent being the Georgia Republican displaying censored sexual images of the president’s son Hunter Biden in a hearing last week.
The resolution introduced Tuesday is a laundry list of around 40 points of grievance against Greene, many of which list her specific comments and the dates on which she said them.
In addition to Greene’s showing images of Hunter Biden, the resolution takes issue with Greene visiting Jan. 6 inmates in a Washington jail and calling it the “patriot wing,” calling Muslim members of Congress part of the “Jihad Squad,” and appearing at a white nationalist event — although Greene later said she had no idea the event was linked to white nationalism and condemned its leader. The resolution also cites Greene’s comparing COVID-19 vaccinations to Nazis forcing Jewish people to wear a star, along with other grievances.
All while being a productive member of Congress, Balint was able to sit down for Teen Vogue magazine and conduct an interview. Topics include being lesbian in a hostile Congress and issues regarding LBGTQ+ rights for children.
It is clear the Rep. Becca Balint knows how to handle the media, based upon the three examples above. While she doesn’t have the star power of a Sen. Bernie Sanders, it is clear that she could easily fill his place in the Senate once Sanders decides to retire.
Bills and Legislative Priorities
Rep. Becca Balint switched from the House Oversight Committee to the House Judiciary Committee in June. That gives her less of a perch for making soundbites, but also gives her more of a chance to pass meaningful legislation — especially when the Democratic Party takes back control of Congress.
She joined the House Progressive Caucus upon entering Congress. She supports the Green New Deal and Medicare for All, as her introductory ad above cites.
In terms of her own bills, her press releases are the best way to keep track of what she is working on. That includes repealing an antiquated law preventing abortion materials to be sent through the mail.
LGBTQ+ and Women’s History Act of 2023
Invasive Species Prevention and Forest Restoration Act
Protecting Young Minds Online Act
As with many of the freshman class, Rep. Becca Balint had some strong words for the Extreme Court about their decisions — especially in her case about the rolling back of LGBTQ+ rights.
She has a grand total of 5.6k followers on Twitter, which is a nice amount for a new member of Congress. That’s pretty good, even for a dying social media platform!
Rep. Becca Balint will continue to push for full rights for all, as well as legislation that benefits the people of the United States. She is willing to work across the aisle at times to get common sense legislation passed, while other times she signs on to bills that have no chance of passing but are more geared towards sending the right message. She has the experience to go far in Congress!
Her Twitter feed is chock full of videos and media clips that I did not include in this writeup. She seems to be a regular on MSNBC, especially when LGBTQ+ issues crop up. She definitely can handle the media on her own, even if she is overshadowed by the senior senator from her home state. She will only continue to be a media presence as her seniority builds up.
In terms of Congressional longevity, I see her as a future senator of Vermont, replacing one Sen. Sanders, if she so chooses. The Senate is a totally different institution from the House, so it is possible that she decides to remain in the lower chamber and not go for a promotion, especially this early in her career. But spots from Vermont in Congress are very limited, so she would have to jump when the spot is open! Until then, Rep. Becca Balint will continue to serve diligently!
Next week, I will profile Rep. Glenn Ivey from Maryland’s 4th district. See you then!
Rep. Becca Balint (Vermont At-Large)
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Please help our Democratic freshmen in the 118th Congress raise more funds with the New Faces in Congress Fund. Until election day in 2024, we plan to regularly add new names to our list of recipients. Please share a link to this site on your social media!