Even while performing routine duties in the House of Representatives, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez manages to make history. On Friday, Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman to preside over the House. She took over the gavel typically used by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and ran the chamber for approximately one hour, Reuters reported.
According to Reuters, members of the majority party in the House typically take turns presiding over the chamber on a day-to-day basis. Democrats currently have the majority in the House, so Ocasio-Cortez got to share in her party's responsibility on Friday. As the New York Daily News pointed out, Ocasio-Cortez didn't have too much to do during her time at the podium. She handled the day's "special orders," which are typically short speeches that are delivered at the end of the day.
At 29 years old, Ocasio-Cortez was already the youngest woman ever elected to Congress — and she once again set that record when she presided over the House.
“That was my first time presiding," Ocasio-Cortez told reporters shortly afterward. "And it’s exciting. It’s certainly a view. I wish we could, I wish we were allowed to take photos."
She also described her time in the House as a "sacred privilege + responsibility" in a tweet following the session:
"Every day here is a sacred privilege + responsibility entrusted to me by my community," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Friday afternoon. "I never forget that, and moments like these drive it home. Thank you to the people of NY14 + beyond. This House belongs to all of us."
Ocasio-Cortez's session largely proceeded without incident, though she did make the occasional mistake regarding her fellow lawmakers' states of origins — such as when Democratic Rep. Sean Casten took the floor, for instance.
“For what purpose does the gentleman from Ohio — um, from Illinois, excuse me, seek recognition?” Ocasio-Cortez said.
As Speaker of the House, Pelosi has the authority to designate a "Speaker pro tempore" — temporary Speaker — on days when she is not presiding over the chamber. Congress makes Speaker pro tempore designations available to the public; serving as Speaker pro tempore, as Ocasio-Cortez did on Friday, can be a way for junior members of the House to become better acquainted with the rules and proceedings of the chamber.
Ocasio-Cortez is not the only person to have made history as a Speaker pro tempore, either. Back in 2010, Rhode Island Rep. Jim Langevin — the first quadriplegic elected to Congress — served as Speaker pro tempore, and the Speaker's rostrum was reconfigured to become wheelchair accessible. Earlier this year, on the House's opening day, Democrats once again chose Langevin to preside over the chamber, USA Today reported.
Ever since she launched her Congressional bid to unseat incumbent Joe Crowley, Ocasio-Cortez has been a social media sensation. She has tried to make Congress' political proceedings more accessible to the general public by discussing policy on Instagram and publicizing House hearings on various subjects. When she took the gavel on Friday and presided over the House, Ocasio-Cortez set another record — and she made sure to share the experience with her supporters, too.