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Georgetown alumni maintain strong presence in 117th Congress

Published November 19, 2020


Healy Hall. Wikimedia Commons.

This January, Georgetown will send 26 incumbents and one newcomer to be inducted into the 117th Congress of the United States, continuing the legacy of Georgetown alumni in the federal legislative body.

After a landslide election in Texas’ 11th district, Republican August Pfluger (MSB ‘19) is the newest Georgetown alum to be elected to the House of Representatives. The win came as no surprise, as he was running to fill the vacancy of a Republican predecessor in rural midwestern Texas. Pfluger received his M.S. in International Business and Policy on the Hilltop following multiple degrees from the Air Force university system. The native Texan, who was endorsed in a tweet by President Donald Trump this February, ran on a conservative platform prioritizing tighter border security and oil industry expansion. He joins six other Republicans in filling the seven vacant Congressional seats that were up for grabs this election.

The November 2020 elections also mark the departure of three Hoyas from Congress, with the retirement of Reps. Pete Visclosky (LAW ‘82) and Frank Rooney  (COL ‘75, LAW ‘78) and the defeat of first-term Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (SFS ‘07). 

In her second faceoff against Republican opponent Yvette Herrell, Torres Small lost her seat representing southern New Mexico’s 2nd district by 20,000 votes. This defeat was much more concrete than her own win over Herrell in 2018, which was determined by a mere four thousand votes. Torres Small ran as a moderate and is rated as one of the most conservative representatives among House Democrats. However, in a region of New Mexico that has supported every Republican presidential candidate for over 20 years, the seat was a toss-up. In a tele-rally call with Herrell, President Trump called Torres Small a “radical left puppet” and “puppet of Nancy Pelosi.” 

Torres Small made attempts to distance herself from President-elect Joe Biden via Twitter following his statements on the oil industry and pollution in the October presidential debates. “We need to work together to promote responsible energy production and stop climate change, not demonize a single industry,” she wrote, adding that she will “continue to stand up to my party when they’re out of touch with the reality on the ground in #NM02.”

Visclosky, who has represented Indiana’s industrial 1st district for 35 years, announced his retirement plans late last year. The Democrat is the current Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Committee and joins a slew of senior appropriators exiting Congress this year. Although he was at one time caught in a Justice Department criminal investigation probing lobbying firm PMA Group, he and other representatives involved were cleared of any misconduct allegations by the House Ethics Committee in 2011. During his tenure, Visclosky has been championed by the manufacturing associations of his blue-collar district. 

Rooney, a businessman and Republican fundraiser representing Florida’s 19th district, made it clear upon his arrival to office that he planned on staying for no longer than three terms. Rooney is among the growing number of Republicans who support climate action. Last January, he introduced a bill to ban off-shore drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. It successfully passed last September, marking the last of Rooney’s Congressional objectives to be fulfilled. 

I had accomplished the things that I had told the people in my district I wanted to do,” Rooney said in an interview with USA Today. “I had no interest in being a career politician.”

Although he has openly campaigned alongside the president before, Rooney is one of the few conservatives to criticize Trump’s actions throughout the last four years. In an op-ed for The Hill published on Nov. 15, Rooney called on Trump to concede the 2020 presidential election and initiate the peaceful transfer of power. “I am concerned that by questioning the integrity of the 2020 election without reliable proof of wrongdoing we undermine the principles of free and fair elections and leave our country distracted and exposed to our enemies,” he wrote. Rooney is succeeded by Republican Byron Donalds and has yet to publicize any post-retirement plans.

Representative-elect Pfluger may be joined in Congress by fellow Georgetown alum Jon Ossoff (SFS ‘07), pending a Senate runoff election this January in Georgia. Both Democrat Ossoff and Republican incumbent David Perdue failed to achieve the over 50 percent needed to declare victory. Alongside the concurrent special Senatorial race in Georgia, the results of Ossoff’s race will determine party control of the Senate.

All newly elected and re-elected Congressional officials will be sworn into office on Jan. 3rd, 2021.



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