Marie Newman was sworn in Sunday as a member of the 117th Congress representing the 3rd Congressional District, a changing of the guard, as she replaces eight-term incumbent Dan Lipinski whom she defeated in the March 2020 primary.

“It is an absolute honor and a thrill to be working for and partnering with Illinois 3 and being here and working with all the great folks here,” Newman said Monday in brief telephone interview with the Landmark. “Couldn’t be more excited to get to work.”

After being sworn in on Jan. 3, the first act of business was to elect a Speaker of the House. Newman joined with all but five Democrats in re-electing California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi as speaker.

On Jan. 4, Newman was busy with procedural votes and getting acclimated to life in Washington.

But things get serious on Jan. 6, when the House will have to deal with challenges to the Electoral College vote in the presidential election. Some Republicans are challenging the results and calling for a commission to be appointed to examine the results.

Republicans loyal to President Donald Trump have repeatedly pursued conspiracy theories about the outcome of the election and continue to push discredited claims of fraud despite more than 60 unsuccessful legal challenges at the state and federal court levels.

“We are very confident that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be inaugurated on January 20, and we’re looking forward to bigger and brighter things,” Newman said.

Newman said that her biggest initial priority will be working to get more federal aid to individuals and others affected by the pandemic.

 “We have to crush the virus, and that means in the next relief package we have to have larger direct payments to small businesses and to states,” Newman said.

In his final week in office, Lipinski voted against increasing direct federal stimulus payments of $2,000 to individuals, saying he didn’t want to increase the federal deficit. The proposed increase from $600 to $2,000 passed the House but died in the Senate, when Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stalled a vote on the measure.

Like Lipinski, Newman will be a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. She has also taken over Lipinski’s district office at 6245 S. Archer Ave. in Chicago.

The defeat of Lipinski means this is the first time in 38 years there will not be someone named Lipinski in Congress. 

Dan Lipinski’s father, William O. Lipinski, was first elected to Congress in 1982. William Lipinski served in Congress until 2004 when he resigned after the primary and engineered the selection of his son, then a political science professor at the University of Tennessee, to replace him.

Dan Lipinski served for 16 years, beating back occasional primary challenges, including one from Newman in 2018. 

But Lipinski was often seen as out of step with most of his party, and Newman narrowly defeated him last year. There is now just one pro-life Democrat serving in the House of Representatives after Colin Peterson, of Minnesota, was defeated by a Republican in November.