Jake Auchincloss framed himself as part of a generational shift in American politics as he was sworn in Sunday as Massachusetts’ newest and youngest member of the US House.
“I think this is an opportunity for the millennial generation to take on the challenges that are going to define the next decades,” the 32-year-old Marine veteran said in a phone interview shortly before he took the oath on the House floor as the representative of the state’s Fourth Congressional District.
“These are to me not the challenges of a term of or even a decade but the ones that are going to define a generation — and the work on those begins now,” said Auchincloss, a Democrat who replaced Joseph P. Kennedy III.
Auchincloss is a former Newton City Councilor who bested a crowded primary field in the strongly Democratic district before easily defeating Republican Julie Hall in November. He cast his first vote in Congress for California Democrat Nancy Pelosi to return as House Speaker and said the pandemic was “priority number 1A.”
“We need to speed up and scale up the distribution of the vaccine on an order of magnitude,” he said. “The pace that we’re at under the Trump administration would take years vaccinate the American population. It’s got to be a million shots a day for the first hundred days of the Biden administration to get to where we need to get to by the summertime.”
Auchincloss, also called for testing to be expanded at “enterprise-scale,” saying widespread tests are essential to in-person learning for schools, which he backed in an op-ed Sunday.
But he also took time to soak in the moment Sunday, reflecting on a love of American history stretching back at least to third grade, when he scrawled the words of the Declaration of Independence on his bedroom wall.
“To walk into the House Chamber under the great portrait of the signing of the Constitution is a once-in-a-lifetime memory,” Auchincloss said. “It’s a thrill. It’s the honor of a lifetime.”
With COVID-19 protocols limiting the number of people in the House Chamber, Auchincloss was allowed only one guest in the gallery for his swearing in and said his father would watch. His wife will attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
The restrictions only make the moment more unique, he said.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be elected to Congress and sworn into Congress regardless of the context around you,” he said. “But out of crisis comes opportunity, there is opportunity. And so I think of the 117th Congress as being born in crisis but becoming a term of opportunity.”
Lucas Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.