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The number of Latter-day Saints in Congress is dropping

Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, questions Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett during the second day of her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, questions Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett during the second day of her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Susan Walsh, Associated Press
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The number of Latter-day Saints serving in the U.S. Congress has dropped 44% in the past five years.

The 117th Congress convened on Sunday to serve as the legislative branch of the government until Jan. 3, 2023. It includes nine members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one fewer than the 116th Congress due to the retirement of Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico.

This marks the lowest number of church members in Congress since the 1960s, according to the Pew Research Center. However, Latter-day Saints still make up 1.7% of Congress, roughly equal to the 2% share of Americans who belong to the church.

Latter-day Saints have made up an outsized portion of Congress for many years. In 1999-2000, 17 church members served in the Senate and House of Representatives.

The number of Latter-day Saints in Congress held steady between 13 and 15 from 2009 to 2018 before it began to drop, chiefly due to retirements.

In 2015, Latter-day Saints served in senior leadership on opposite sides of the aisle. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, was the Senate Minority Leader for the Democrats and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, was president pro tempore of the Senate, third in the line of presidential succession.

Reid retired in 2017, Hatch in 2019, the same year two other Latter-day Saints left the Senate — Arizona’s Jeff Flake, who did not run for reelection, and Nevada’s Dean Heller, who was defeated in his bid for a second full term.

For the next two years, the Senate will have three Latter-day Saints. They are:

  • Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, 69, is completing his fourth term.
  • Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, 49, is finishing his second term.
  • Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, 73, is in the middle of his first term.

The House has six Latter-day Saint members:

  • Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, 70, first elected in 1998, is entering his 12th term
  • Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, 60, begins his fifth term.
  • Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Arizona, 62, is starting his third term.
  • Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, 60, begins his second full term.
  • Rep. Blake Moore, R-Utah, 40, is starting his first term, replacing Rob Bishop.
  • Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah, 69, is beginning his first term, having defeated fellow Latter-day Saint Ben McAdams, a Democrat.

McAdams’ loss and Udall’s retirement mean that all nine Latter-day Saints in this Congress are Republicans.

They also are all men.

One Latter-day Saint woman has served in the U.S. Senate, the late Paula Hawkins, a Republican from Florida who served one term.

Two women have served in the U.S. House, both from Utah: Enid Greene Waldholtz, who served a single term, and Mia Love, who served two.

Also noteworthy: Owens is the first Black male Latter-day Saint to serve in Congress.

Read more about the religious makeup of this Congress in my colleague Mya Jaradat’s report here.

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