Today, 20 women make history.
When they are sworn in to the 113th Congress at noon, America’s female senators will comprise the largest-ever class of women in the upper chamber.
The 20 senators (three more than in the 112th Congress) are determined to make the change apparent. Their camaraderie and collaborative approach to legislating position them to get things done in the new Congress, they say in a joint interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, which airs tonight.
“We’re in force and we’re in leadership positions, but it’s not just the position that we hold,” Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland says, according to ABC News. “I can tell you this is a can-do crowd. We are today ready to be a force in American politics.”
The 20 women — four Republicans and 16 Democrats — agree that having more women in Congress will help with legislative compromise, because women are naturally “problem solvers,” Sen.-elect Mazie Hirono, a Hawaii Democrat, says.
“When I saw President Obama a few weeks ago, I told him about our quarterly dinners and I said, ‘Mr. President, if you want to see bipartisanship in Washington, invite the women senators to help you get it done,'” says Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, referring to bipartisan dinners for Senate women. “He loved the idea and he plans to invite us to the White House.”
While the senators celebrate today’s milestone in the interview, they also say they don’t want to be defined by their gender and that their sights are set on two larger goals: A 50-50 gender split in Congress, and a woman in the White House.
“I think that until we get to 50, we still have to fight because it’s still a problem,” says Sen. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat.