Two 29-year-old women take their seats in the house

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Abby Finkenauer (right) were both 29 years old when they won seats in congress (Associated Press/Facebook)

At 29, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman elected to Congress. Ocasio-Cortez has said she is still paying off her student loans and until recently had no health insurance.

Abby Finkenauer on Tuesday became the second-youngest woman elected to Congress. Also 29, she is a little more than 10 months older than Ocasio-Cortez. She is also still paying off her student loans.

Ocasio-Cortez shocked many in New York politics, including herself, when she came out of nowhere to defeat 10-term Rep. Joe Crowley in New York's Democratic congressional primary last spring. The victory made her the national face of young, discontented Democrats — often women and minorities — trying to shove their party to the left.

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Finkenauer knocked off two-term Republican incumbent Rep. Rod Blum in a fiercely contested race. She grew up in the northeastern Iowa district she will now represent and has served four years in the Iowa House representing Dubuque.

Ocasio-Cortez was born in the Bronx but raised in suburban Westchester County. Her father died while she was a student at Boston University in 2008. She got her start in politics as an organizer for Sen. Bernie Sanders. She calls herself a "Democratic socialist" and supports a national $15 minimum wage and universal health care coverage.

She takes the record for the youngest woman elected to Congress from Rep. Elise Stefanik, a Republican representing upstate New York who was elected at age 30. American voters have elected many men in their 20s to Congress.

Finkenauer has worked for a nonprofit that sought to increase the minimum wage and expand family leave.

She styled herself as a folksy champion of working-class families such as her own. A favorite of labor unions, she has frequently discussed how her father is a welder and her mother is a school district employee.

Republicans, including President Donald Trump, nicknamed her "Absent Abby" for missing some votes in the Legislature and painted her as too inexperienced.

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