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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is one of several freshmen in Congress who were named finalists in the Democracy Awards competition, which highlights congressional offices that are well run and offer exceptional constituent service.

Ocasio-Cortez, Shalala lead finalists for democracy awards

Freshman members of Congress, particularly the newest female lawmakers, are leading the way on Capitol Hill in how they run their offices and serve constituent needs.

The Congressional Management Foundation announced Thursday the finalists for its Democracy Awards and nine people in their first terms — the most in the three years the awards have been handed out — made the cut.

Seven women are among the finalists, again the most in the short history of the awards, which honor members of Congress for their work in four categories: constituent service; workplace environment; transparency and accountability; and innovation and modernization.

Also for the first time, two members were chosen as finalists in two categories — prominent first-term House Democrats Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, an icon of the progressive movement, and Donna Shalala of Florida, who was Health and Human Services secretary in the Clinton administration.

"Now, more than ever, Americans need to hear about examples of their government officials performing at their best," said foundation CEO Bradford Fitch.

A committee, made up mostly of former members and staffers, will choose one Republican and one Democrat as winners in each category. The winners will be announced in a few months.

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Here are the finalists:

Constituent Service

Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill.

Rep. Kendra Horn, D-Okla.

Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass.

Rep. Donna Shalala, D-Fla.

Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas

Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Penn.

Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va.

Workplace environment

Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

Rep. Donna Shalala, D-Fla.

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont.

Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb.

Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich.

Transparency and accountability

Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa

Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-Pa.

Rep. Tom O'Halleran, D-Ariz.

Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas

Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas

Rep. Van Taylor, R-Texas

Innovation and modernization

Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif.

Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas

Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga.

Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga.

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