Women Senators, Like Barbara Mikulski, Compromised To End Shutdown

5:15 PM, Oct 21, 2013   |    comments
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CAPITOL HILL, DC (WUSA9) -- Women US senators have something the men seem to lack -- a relationship.

Time Magazine says women are the only adults left in the Senate.

When it came to re-opening the government and raising the debt ceiling, it was women who led the charge toward compromise.

In the maelstrom of modern Washington politics, Barbara Mikulski's no slouch. "Furlough means layoff!" she shouted in the midst of the shutdown to an adoring crowd of federal workers.

But the longest-serving woman Senator has long protected her fellow women. "There are more women (in the Senate now) than had served in all of American history when I arrived," she told CNN a year ago. She's been running a power dinner for years for women Senators -- Republican and Democrat. "Usually it's every man for himself, I'm going to be every woman, each one teach one."

It was at one of those dinners that women Senators developed the kernel of the deal that ended the shutdown.

"We sparked a dialogue that did not exist before we put out a plan," said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

Nearly every newly elected member of the Senate Sisterhood can remember some sexist shenanigans. Pushed out of a Senators Only elevator. Mistaken for wives. Ordered off the floor. But maybe that's brought them together.

"They've built up personal relationships that really harken back to a different time in the Senate," says Georgetown University professor Michele Swers, who just finished a book called Women in the Club.

Where the Old Boys' Club has turned nasty, the women skew moderate.

"My wife keeps saying, put women in charge, they'll solve everything," I told Swers. But she says we shouldn't expect gender miracles. "If Sarah Palin or Michele Bachman were in the Senate, they are people who tend to prefer to stand on principal."

And even women are divided over a long term budget deal.

There are now 20 women in the Senate, an historic high, but still no where near their share of the American population.

















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