Women to watch in the 114th Congress

WASHINGTON (ABC) – The new Republican Senate majority is not the only change the 114th Congress will see when it convenes Tuesday. There has also been a shift in the gender breakdown.

A record 107 women will serve in the newest Congress, with several notable firsts.

The Senate will have six Republican female senators more than ever before. That count includes Iowa and Virginia, two states that have never sent female senators to Washington.

Below are some female members of Congress — both incumbents and freshman — worth watching in 2015.

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa

Joni Ernst already made history — and headlines — this past election cycle. Her ad “Squeal,” in which she linked her experience castrating hogs with an ability to “cut pork” in Washington, increased her name recognition around the country. When she defeated Rep. Bruce Braley, she simultaneously became first female Iowa ever sent to Congress and first female combat veteran to serve in Congress. As a freshman congresswoman, she has a busy schedule: She will serve on the Armed Services Committee, the Homeland Security and Government Committee, and the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee.

Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah

Love made history this past election when she defeated Doug Owen to represent Utah’s 4th District in Congress, becoming the first black female Republican to serve in Congress. Although Love served as the mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, from 2010 to January 2014, she first appeared on the national political scene at the 2012 Republican National Convention. So far, she has been assigned to serve on the House Committee on Financial Services, and is already becoming a vocal advocate for her party. She told Martha Raddatz on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” that she still thinks House Majority Whip Steve Scalise should remain a leader in the Republican Party, despite recent reports that he attended a workshop organized by a group of alleged white supremacists in 2002.

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y.

Stefanik became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress when she defeated Aaron Woolf to represent New York’s 21st District. She also became the first Republican to ever represent that district. She has been appointed to the House Armed Services Committee and the Education and Workforce Committee. Her fellow freshman congressional colleagues also elected her to serve on the House Republican Policy Committee.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

Following what many deemed the disastrous midterm elections for the Democrats, Harry Reid tapped Warren for the newly created position of “strategic policy adviser to the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.” In this position, Warren will liaise with liberal groups to ensure they are effectively represented. In addition, her supporters are trying to draft her to run for president. Warren has said she isn’t running. But as ABC News’ Jon Karl noted, her responses are in the present tense and don’t necessarily preclude a run in 2016. But it likely means that every move she makes and every vote she casts will be watched carefully for any implications of presidential aspirations.

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

Earlier in the year, the New York senator and the Missouri senator were at odds. They both wanted to reform the military’s policies on sexual assault, but with two different pieces of legislation. Although McCaskill’s won out, the two have subsequently joined forces, channeling their efforts toward combating sexual assault on campus, an issue that came to the forefront of national discussion this fall following Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s controversial article on an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia. The bill they co-sponsored, the Campus Safety and Accountability Act, was introduced last July, with the most recent hearings this past December. Expect the two trailblazers to push for this bill until President Obama has signed it into law.

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