Duckworth, Krishnamoorthi, Schneider sworn into 115th Congress

Two Democrats hailing from neighboring Northwest suburbs made history Tuesday, broadening the diversity of Congress with their Asian-American heritage.

Schaumburg Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi was sworn in to represent the 8th Congressional District in the 115th Congress, replacing Tammy Duckworth, of Hoffman Estates, who was sworn into the U.S. Senate.

Krishnamoorthi, a 43-year-old businessman, is one of four Indian-Americans to serve in the 435-member U.S. House this term and the first from Illinois. Duckworth, a 48-year-old veteran who lost her legs in the Iraq War, is only the second Asian-American woman to be elected to the Senate. She defeated Republican Mark Kirk of Highland Park in November.

The 8th District, roughly centered in Schaumburg, includes parts of northwest Cook, northeast Kane and northeast DuPage counties.

Roughly 30 percent of its residents were born outside the United States, with high numbers of Hispanic and south Asian residents, according to estimates by Krishnamoorthi's office.

"Electing a guy named Raja Krishnamoorthi, where most people couldn't pronounce my name, is a strong signal that the people of my district and the people of Illinois are good, decent people who want to get past the fault lines of the past," Krishnamoorthi said.

With the district serving as home to both himself and Duckworth, he said he hoped constituents will have an "important voice" on the national stage.

Krishnamoorthi, his wife Priya, their three children and a "busload" of relatives arrived in Washington for the swearing-in Tuesday morning.

Also joining Illinois' 18-member delegation is Deerfield Democrat Brad Schneider, 55, who is returning to the House after defeating Republican Bob Dold of Kenilworth in November to represent the North suburban 10th District.

Schneider was joined by his wife, Julie, and his parents for the ceremony. He described his swearing-in, this time, as a moment when the nation "is divided and so much is at stake."

"I don't think anyone really knows what to expect," Schneider said of Republican business tycoon Donald Trump's upcoming presidential term.

Duckworth was one of seven new senators who took the oath in a ceremony officiated by Vice President Joe Biden. Wearing a leather suit, she held the arm of Illinois' senior Sen. Dick Durbin of Springfield as she walked, using a cane, up to the well of the Senate chamber. She was joined by her husband, Bryan Bowlsbey, and 2-year-old daughter Abigail.

With both the House and Senate under Republican control, as well as the presidency, the suburban Democrats vowed to reach across the aisle to pursue their goals. Duckworth has noted she served two terms in the House under Republican control and plans to approach her work in the Senate in the same fashion.

Krishnamoorthi echoed similar thoughts of bipartisanship.

"In the 8th District, we've learned how to get along and to work productively across ethnic lines, religious lines, even party lines to get things done at the local level," Krishnamoorthi said. "The question is how do we export that spirit of compromise and productive dialogue to Washington?"

Vice President Joe Biden reacts with Abigail O'kalani Bowlsbey, in the arms of her mother, U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates, after a swearing-in ceremony in the Old Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington. Associated Press
  Raja Krishnamoorthi Bob Chwedyk/
  Brad Schneider Gilbert R. Boucher II/
Congressman and Deerfield Democrat Brad Schneider, right, takes the oath of office Tuesday in Washington from House Speaker Paul Ryan. Scheider's wife Julie is in the center. Courtesy of Brad Schneider
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