Senate women to watch in 2014

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.”

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(Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg)

Capitol Hill -- and especially the Senate -- was once an old boys’ club. Not anymore. Women now make up one-fifth of the Senate. And they’re making their presence felt.

In December, Washington Sen. Patty Murray was the Democrats’ standard-bearer in quiet, behind-the-scenes talks that loudly made news. Murray, the Senate Budget Committee chairwoman, and Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul D. Ryan worked out a “breakthrough $85-billion bipartisan accord,” wrote The Times. “The modest deal represents an achievement in this divided Congress.”

But Murray was not the only woman to get something done in rancorous D.C. “Women now chair or sit as ranking members of 10 of the Senate’s 20 committees and are responsible for passing the vast majority of legislation this year, whether it be the budget, the transportation bill, the farm bill, the Water Resources Development Act or the Violence Against Women Act,” according to Time magazine.

The 20 -- yes, 20 -- Senate women come from both sides of the aisle, and the list today includes more names than California’s familiar Democratic duo of Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and Maryland Democrat Barbara Mikulski.


Here’s a look at some of the Senate women who stood together, and stood out, in 2013 -- and who are likely to do more of the same in 2014. -- Sara Lessley