Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Illinois) earlier this week became the first Hindu-American to preside over the US House of Representatives, as he oversaw floor debate from the Speaker’s chair. He is the second Indian-American to serve in this capacity, preceded by former U.S. Congressman Bobby Jindal, R-Louisiana, who took the gavel multiple times in 2005, according to Krishnamoorthi’s office. Jindal is a Christian by faith.
When serving as speaker pro tempore, meaning “temporary speaker,” a member fills the role of presiding officer of the House in the absence of the Speaker of the House. In effect, Krishnamoorthi took Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s chair April 1.
“I had to pinch myself,” Krishnamoorthi told News India Times. “When my parents came here as immigrants in the early ’70s, I didn’t think they would see this day.”
“I am honored to become the first Hindu-American to have the honor of presiding over the House,” Krishnamoorthi is quoted saying in a press release, adding, “I’m humbled to have taken on this responsibility and recognize it was only possible through the work of those who came before me and the opportunities our country presents to all of us, regardless of race, religion, and background.”
During the time he officiated as Speaker, Krishnamoorthi said, “I had to bang the gavel into session, preside over a few speeches, and then put some materials into the record, and gavel out of the session.”