Patty Murray (D-Wash.)

Patty Murray, a no-nonsense lawmaker from Washington state, aptly demonstrates the growing clout of women in the Senate, who numbered three when she first ran for office two decades ago. There are now a record-high 20 women serving in the upper house. Murray, who recently became the first woman to chair the Senate Budget Committee, wields a "unique negotiating style." According to Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), the dean among the Senate's women, she sticks to her goals but builds consensus among her peers. And Murray learns from the past. Two years ago, her deficit-reduction "supercommittee" couldn't come to terms. This time, as half of the architect of a budget deal that had eluded so many, she and Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul D. Ryan tangled, but usually amicably. Early on, according to The Times, they agreed not to publicly air what they were negotiating behind closed doors, and they focused on reaching a pragmatic solution. In the end, Murray concludes: "He and I do have some major differences. We cheer for a different football team, clearly. We catch different fish.... But we agree that our country needs some certainty." ALSO: Washington's 5 biggest 'fails' of 2013 Kindness in the world of politics? 7 uplifting examples from 2013 13 biggest political blunders of 2013 -- and what they mean for the year ahead
Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg
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