As incoming House lawmakers flocked to the nation’s capital for new member orientation in the Capitol Visitor Center, Florida Democratic Rep.-elect Maxwell Frost said it all felt reminiscent of the first day of school.
“I’m definitely still learning my way around and got lost a couple of times,” said the youngest future member of Congress, age 25. “It’s kind of like school. You got a week, got Thanksgiving break, then you got another week.”
This year’s orientation is a return to normal after the pandemic disrupted things in 2020, and as a result, the previous freshman class missed out on most gatherings and social events. The freshman future lawmaker arrived in the nation’s capital the weekend after the Nov. 8 midterm elections and already had one orientation session under his belt with the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Frost in August won a 10-way Democratic primary in the newly created Orlando and eastern suburbs 10th Congressional District, which leans hard blue. On Nov. 8, Frost beat Republican Calvin Wimbish by 19%. He will succeed outgoing Democratic Rep. Val Demings, who vacated her seat, which has similar lines, in an unsuccessful challenge to Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.
The future lawmaker is the first Generation Z member of Congress. (Gen Z generally refers to those born in the late 1990s to the early 2010s.) The average age of House members is 58. Departing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is 82 years old, and GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, likely to become speaker when Republicans assume the majority in January, will be 58 years old shortly after the 118th Congress gavels into session.
“I didn’t run to be the first Gen Z member, but it’s a big part of the story. There needs to be younger people involved in government. We saw how the youth came out on Tuesday, so I’m excited to represent my district but also get to work,” Frost said, speaking to the Washington Examiner.
Frost took a major risk and quit his previous job during his run for Congress and drove for Uber to help pay his rent while campaigning. He was enrolled as a student at Valencia College but never finished, instead focusing on community organizing. He served as the national organizer for March for Our Lives, a group that advocates gun control policy in the wake of the Parkland school shooting in 2018. His campaign for Congress focused on issues like ending gun violence, protecting abortion rights, and addressing climate change. Frost backs many policies of the party’s left wing, like universal healthcare and expanding the Supreme Court. Democrats will be unable to enact those policies while in the minority in the 118th Congress in a narrowly split chamber likely to have a 221-214, or 222-213 GOP edge.
“It’s just the experience of growing up in this era. I call it the mass shooting generation,” Frost said. “So, just having someone who understands what it means to be an American right now, I think it’s important to have that perspective at the table.”
Frost is also making history as the first Afro-Cuban American voted to Congress. Frost was adopted as an infant. According to his campaign page, his adoptive mother and grandmother came to Florida from Cuba during the Freedom Flights with no money and only a suitcase.
“This incoming freshman class of Democrats, I think, is the youngest and has the most people of color. I’m the first Gen Z member, but so many young members are coming into Congress — people who are more than 20 years under the average age, so that’s really exciting,” Frost said.