Here’s Why Barbara Mikulski is Making History

The November 2012 election wasn’t just about putting more women in office, it was putting more women in leadership.

It’s fitting then that Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski is set to become the first woman to chair the prestigious Senate Appropriations Committee. Last year Mikulski became the longest-serving woman in Senate history and Appropriations is a notoriously male-dominated realm in much need of a different perspective. “It is especially gratifying to be the first woman to lead this powerful committee,” the 76-year-old lawmaker said in a statement. “I am grateful for this opportunity to fight for the day-to-day needs of the American people and the long-range needs of the nation.”

Mikulski takes the position after the death of Sen. Daniel Inouye, (D-HI) a civil rights warrior in his own right. Inouye served in the Senate for more than fifty years and was always on the right side of civil rights. He was the last sitting senator to vote on the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. Inouye led the fight for the Americans with Disabilities Act and voted against the Defense of Marriage Act.

The transition of power, from Inouye to Mikulski is itself a significant civil rights achievement. It is visible, real institutionalized change to have the son of Japanese immigrants followed in leadership by a former-social worker turned longest-serving woman in Senate history. It demonstrates real institutional change in Washington. Yes, it is incremental, but it is change, and the significance of it can’t be lost.

“As the first Democratic woman to be elected to the Senate in her own right, and the longest serving woman senator, Barbara Mikulski has already made history twice,” said Stephanie Schriock, President of EMILY’s List.”And now, after decades as a dedicated public servant, she will make history again as the first woman to chair the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee. When women voters went to the polls this election cycle, this is the kind of progress that they had in mind — pro-choice Democratic women taking on leadership positions where they can fight even harder to get Washington working again. I am so thrilled that Senator Mikulski will be named to this position where she can continue fighting for policies that benefit women and families.”

By chairing the committee Mikulski has a lot of power in setting the agenda for domestic spending projects coming out of Congress. She is exactly the kind of leader we want in this position as other members of Congress, and perhaps even the Obama administration, plays political chicken with social safety net cuts. For decades poor women and families have borne the greatest economic burdens in the name of “progress” and “reform.” The impact of that policy is coming home to roost and the budgetary priorities we set now will guide policy for decades to come. And for that we should all be thrilled Mikulski is where she is today.


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Tammy Taylor
Tammy Taylor3 years ago

thanks ... now I'm really confused, I like how Stephan S. is thinking!

Stephen S.
Stephen L.3 years ago

Take a look at Mikulski's voting record before you tell me that she is a model.

Or maybe its good enough that she is a woman, never mind what she actually does? Talk about sexism.

Shirley Townsend
Shirley T.3 years ago

She is the type women we want as role models for our girls and young women. Congratulations to her and I as a woman thank her for all she has done for women.

John Hablinski
John Hablinski3 years ago

Sheri, I sincerely wish I didn’t have to agree with you on this but the thing is, you’re right.

Stephen S.
Stephen L.3 years ago

You call spending billions of dollars in Iraq to kill people "curbing spending"? I don't.

Stephen S.
Stephen L.3 years ago

Mikulski sure didn't say no to George Bush's demand for money to slaughter Iraqi men, women and children! In fact, she was his lap dog, enabling him to commit his war crimes. People like her running any government, anywhere at any time, would be a disaster. She is a danger to American and Maryland ideals.

Sheri Schongold
Sheri Schongold3 years ago

It's about time women ran the government. You can be sure that they would be able to balance the budget, curb spending and say no to the outrageous requests of males and lobbyists. We can say no to our children/husbands.

John S.
Past Member 3 years ago

Let's hope she does well.

Stephen S.
Stephen L.3 years ago

It's hard to see how giving Mikulksi power is good for anyone, given how she did George Bush's bidding and voted in lock-step to fund his criminal Iraq invasion

Jane H.
Jane H.3 years ago

Thanks for the very good news!