Women Lawmakers See Growing Influence In Washington
During this election season the views of women voters often took center stage, and one result was more female representation on Capitol Hill. NY1's Washington reporter Erin Billups filed the following report.
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Seventeen U.S. Senators, all women, smiled and chatted before the cameras Thursday. Then the doors closed, behind which they began their post-election tradition, the Senate Women's Power Workshop. It is a group of bipartisan senators discussing everything from setting up their office to figuring out how to get on important committees and build coalitions.
"We have the ability to not talk really politics and we don't try to influence how a person would vote for their own state," said Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Republican from Texas.
The five newly-elected female senators bring the number of women in the U.S. Senate to 20.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand skipped the meeting to tour the hurricane-ravaged boroughs of New York City with President Barack Obama, but said it is with the women of Congress that one will find consensus.
"Women are uniquely gifted in being able to often consensus build and bridge partisan divides," said Gillibrand. "I'm hopeful that with these new women we can actually fix part of Washington that's so badly broken."
The growth in female population isn't only in the upper house.
"When I came to Congress 25 years ago, there were about 23 members of Congress who were women, out of 435. Today, we have over 60 House Democratic women. Very good," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday.
Pelosi pointed to her perspective as a woman as to why she decided to stay on as leader of the House Democratic Party.
"To work with the president to create jobs and grow our economy in a way that empowers women in the workplace," she said.
With this election season boosting the numbers of women on Capitol Hill, it seems both houses are taking note, working to better reflect the change within leadership ranks.
"Team, working together and solutions. Those are going to be our mantra," said Representative Virginia Foxx, a Republican from North Carolina.
Wednesday, three women were elected to House leadership posts. Over the next few weeks, as committee assignments are handed out, it is expected there will be more women chairing those committees, in both the Senate and House of Representatives.