Amidst much chatter about the lack of diversity in the president’s nominee selections as he assembles his new Cabinet, it is important to note that the recent swearing in of the 113th Congress marked a historic moment for women in politics. Of the Senate’s 100 members, twenty are now female, including five who join the ranks for the first time. In the House of Representatives, 85 Republican and Democratic women now serve, accounting for nearly 20% of the body.
To mark the occasion, ABC’s Diane Sawyer sat down with 19 of the twenty female Senators from both sides of the political aisle, who spoke candidly about the need for more bipartisanship in the Senate.
In a sign of unity, the group meets quarterly for dinner – a tradition that has become far less common then it once was. Sen. Kristen Gillibrand told ABC that she has encouraged President Obama to invite the group to meet with him. “I said, Mr. President if you want to see bipartisanship in Washington, invite the women Senators to help you get it done.” These dinners mark a step in the right direction, as it seems many members have found less and less time to socialize with each other outside of the Capitol given the endless campaign cycle and growing fundraising demands.
Senator Feinstein, a Democrat from California, reiterated this point in her interview with ABC. “We don’t have that need to always be confrontational,” she said. “I think we’re problem solvers, and I think that’s what this country needs.”
In the coming months, BPC will take a look at the impact these female members of Congress are making, both on politics and civility on Capitol Hill. BPC has an impressive and bipartisan roster of women working on its projects and Board of Directors, including: Sheila Burke, Paula Dobriansky, Jane Garvey, former Governor Linda Lingle, Alice Rivlin, former Secretary Donna Shalala, Fran Townsend and former Secretary Ann Veneman.