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Rep. Katie Porter Knows She’s Not the ‘Typical Congress Member’: ‘My Life Does Not Look Like Yours!’

Georgia Slater

Amy Harrity California Rep. Katie Porter

It's been a busy few years for freshman Rep. Katie Porter.

In 2018, the single mother of three young children successfully ran for California seat in the House of Representatives, subsequently drew widespread notice for her questioning during hearings and now, like so many others, is grappling with a year of uncertainty and disease and a full house in quarantine.

In a new interview with Elle, the congresswoman and former lawyer, 46, opened up about how her situation differs from many of her colleagues and why she feels it's important to connect with the public on everyday issues.

"I’m acutely aware I’m nowhere near the bottom, but there’s a little bit of difference between my situation and the typical Congress member’s, or, let’s face it, a lot of difference," Porter told the magazine.

She drew a contrast between her financial situation and that of some other lawmakers: "I didn’t get elected because I’m rich and able to self-fund."

"I haven’t been in office for 20 years. And I’m about 15 years younger than the average member. All those things make me more attuned to the inequality of the universe," she said.

"I’m at least aware, as I put on my shoes every day, that they are not like everyone else’s," Porter told Elle. “I just want to scream at people like, ‘My life does not look like yours!’ ”

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Amy Harrity California Rep. Katie Porter

Amy Harrity California Rep. Katie Porter

The Iowa native — whose hometown has a population estimate of 352 — said there is a "certain model of being a congressperson that [she] resists."

"There are people who think the bicoastal thing is cool — they have a penthouse here and a mansion there. And then there’s my first apartment in D.C.: I had no closet, no cable, no Wi-Fi — just a mattress on the floor," she told Elle.

“You have to be scrappy — as a working mom, a single mom, and as someone who doesn’t have wealth and all these advantages. You have to fight to be taken seriously,” she said.

The juggling act has its own challenges. As she told The New York Times in April of life at home with her children: "For the first couple of days, it looked like a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and my kids shouting at me through the door. Once my boyfriend got here, I just kept the bedroom door closed. And he would come in, bring a tray of food, and leave."

"The school district has done a great job, but it was overwhelming," she told the Times in the spring. "I have three kids in three different grades. ... Because I’m in California time, the second I wake up, I am already three hours behind in many ways, in catching up with what’s happening in D.C."

Her first term in Congress has not gone unnoticed, particularly for how she questioned officials like the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the CEO of JPMorgan Chase.

Amy Harrity California Rep. Katie Porter

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"She is relentlessly who she is, and she is not going to change, nor should she, for this world," Porter's campaign manager, Erica Kwiatkowski, told Elle.

So much so, Porter wasn't even fazed by stepping in "dog poo" during her interview.

"I just think there are a lot of my colleagues who would never admit that they ever — in their whole life—stepped in dog poo," she said. "And it’s like, Who hasn’t? I don’t think we get anywhere trying to separate ourselves from the American people.”