The 7 Women In The Senate Leading The Resistance
These unsung heroes of Congress continue to define persistence in the Trump era.
Currently, only twenty-one senators in the United States Senate are women, something that is a lingering source of frustration for the majority of voters who also happen to have lady parts. But what this auspicious body lacks in numbers, they make up in fierce, formidable opposition. While women of all ages swell the ranks of the Resistance and take to the streets across America, these female politicians have taken up the battle cry in Washington.
And given their track record, there’s no army of advocates and lawyers better suited for the job than the women who serve in Congress. Studies confirm that women are more effective legislators than men, especially when they occupy the minority party in America. Women are 33% more likely not only to introduce legislation, but to get it passed despite roadblocks. Female politicians seem to intrinsically understand how to build consensus and compromise across the aisle, despite a lack of power. Gee, wonder where they learned that life skill from?
Here are seven ladies who are leaning into careers in Congress and becoming superheroes not just for their constituents, but for all Americans.
Kamala Harris: “The Courageous”
Kamala’s new slogan is “Courage not Courtesy,” and we’ve had the pleasure of watching her live up to it time and time again. Rather than consent to play the lead in “Girl Interrupted” at hearings, where she was told by male colleagues to adhere to a more “respectful” line of questioning, Kamala has forged ahead. This former DA of San Francisco and California Attorney General might have just a wee bit of experience with getting the truth out of men under oath and was once rumored to be an Obama pick for the Supreme Court.
As one of the first bi-racial women elected to the Senate, Kamala knows a thing or two about persistence. She attended protests at UCLA Berkley with her parents when she was knee high, then went onto to create the first Hate Crimes Task Force in San Francisco as D.A., focused on preventing hate crimes directed at the LGBTQ community. Rumor has it, Kamala the Courageous may be considering a 2020 run for the most powerful office in the country. Watch out GOP — I wouldn’t interrupt this woman again or you’ll simply propel her star power into the stratosphere.
Claire McCaskill: “The Moderate”
It’s hard to be a democrat in a state Trump swept by double digits last fall, but Senator McCaskill seems to have the hang of it. Not only is she the ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee, McCaskill is the second most likely member of the Senate to vote against her own party. Recently, Claire put her bi-partisan reputation to good use on behalf of her constituents, expressing fiery opposition to the healthcare bill that has been largely drafted behind closed doors.
Senator McCaskill comes from a long line of women in government, including her own mother who became the first woman to be elected to the City Council of Columbia, Missouri. Claire has worked relentlessly in the public sector since 1978, as a county prosecutor, state auditor, and a staunch advocate for healthcare reform. Recently, she began her own battle for health when she disclosed a breast cancer diagnosis in 2016. But Senator McCaskill has handled this personal concern as she has handled her entire public career- with quiet composure and strength.
Elizabeth Warren: “The Persistent”
Senator Warren gave us the unofficial motto of the resistance when she was voted off the US Senate floor for reciting a letter from Coretta Scott King at the Sessions confirmation hearing. In response, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted,” and a battle cry was born. Undeterred, Warren resumed her recitation on Facebook Live just outside the Senate Chamber doors.
Raising her voice as an advocate is something Warren has perfected in her career. After attending George Washington University on a debate scholarship, Elizabeth went on to to become a professor at Harvard, specializing in commercial law and bankruptcy. Previous to her career in politics, the Senator confesses she voted Republican but quickly became a progressive darling as she lobbied on behalf of her constituents for financial reform. And while Warren has amassed plenty of fans and critics on both sides of the aisle, there’s one thing she’ll never be — quiet.
Susan Collins: “The Maverick”
If you want a wild card in the Senate, Collins is it. She’s considered one of the most moderate voices in Congress, with a consecutive voting streak of over 6,000 votes. Senator Collins is firmly pro-choice, opposes the travel ban, and is also one of only six Republicans endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign for her work to support same sex marriage. She’s best known as one of the GOP Senators who voted to block the nomination of both Betsy DeVos and Scott Pruitt and she’s voted against the Trump administration more than any other Republican senator.
How does all this resistance play in her home state of Maine? While the state is considered reliably red, with the oldest median age in the United States, Senator Collins enjoys the highest approval rate of any Republican (67%). More than a few political experts say this Maverick is poised to become the next governor of Maine, and with approval ratings like that, who are we to argue.
Tammy Duckworth: “The Irrepressible”
Tammy, elected in 2017, is a new member of the Senate but she’s been blazing trails in the House of Representatives for a few years now. As a double amputee and the first Asian American woman elected to Congress, Tammy hasn’t let all the attention go to her head. She’s become a champion for disabled veterans and a tireless advocate for healthcare reform and gun control, quoted as saying “these legs don’t buckle” after a particularly contentious election cycle.
Tammy lost her legs as a US Army helicopter pilot in Iraq, but she took the position because it was the most forward combat job available to woman at the time. Her father, a US Marine, is one of many members of Tammy’s family who have served in the military and she wasn’t about to miss the chance to do her part. These days, Tammy serves her country in the Senate, where she lobbies relentlessly on behalf of her constituents and doesn’t mind putting her prosthetic leg to good use.
Patty Murray: “The WorkHorse”
When Patty Murray became the first female senator from Washington in 1992, the world was a different place. Back then, Strom Thurmond hds to issue Patty a formal apology after engaging in “excessive touching of his then-freshman colleague.” These days, Patty has the last word as the highest ranking woman in the Senate as well as the fourth highest ranking Democrat. It was her exhaustive research and persistence as the head of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) that sunk Trump nominee Anthony Puzder and nearly submarined Betsy DeVos.
Senator Murray is used to wrangling the uncooperative. A former preschool teacher, Patty was once told by a state representative that she couldn’t make a difference as a “mom in tennis shoes.” This Senate Mom went onto partner a key budget agreement with Senator Paul Ryan in 2013 which has surely made a difference not just to her constituents, but to all Americans. And it’s unlikely anyone would presume they’re qualified enough to fill Patty’s tennis shoes these days.
Kirsten Gillibrand: “The Resister”
Gillibrand, a member of the “blue dog coalition,” was formerly considered one of the most conservative members of the Democratic party. She had an A+ rating from the NRA and bragged about keeping guns under her bed. These days, Senator Gillibrand is less of a centrist and was the only Democrat to vote down every single Trump cabinet nominee. Earlier this month, she was quoted using the f-word to describe frustration with gridlock in politics, a sentiment surely every American can agree with.
Senator Gillibrand has proven she can persist in the face of power, taking her own turn at grilling a Marine General back in March for what she deemed an inappropriate, lackluster response to a nude photo sharing scandal.
“It is a serious problem when we have members of our military denigrating female marines who will give their life to this country in the way they have with no response from leadership,” Sen. Gillibrand said, visibly shaking in anger. “I can tell you, your answers today are unsatisfactory. They do not go far enough.”
While Gillibrand was a pivotal part of Hillary Clinton’s campaign and established a Super Pac called “Off the Sidelines” to help elect more women to government, she’s squashed speculation she’ll run for President herself in 2020. Kirsten still has young children at home that keep her hands full for the moment. In 2008, when her youngest son Henry was born, Gillibrand returned to the Senate to vote on a farm bill the day after giving birth.
Jason Chaffetz and his scooter has nothing on these ladies of Congress, whose dedication to democracy continues to inspire a new generation. For the ladies of the Senate, standing up to injustice and fighting for equality on behalf of all Americans is just a part of the job. But for a generation of girls who will grow up watching women do the work of governance in this nation, it’s a paradigm shifter than has the potential to usher in a new era of equality. According to Emily’s List, a Super Pac devoted to helping Democratic women get elected, more than 11,000 women interested in running for office in 2018 have reached out to the organization.
“Over 10,000 women isn’t a ripple — it’s a wave,” Schriock, the President of Emily’s List, said in a statement in March. “The thousands of women who have reached out to EMILY’s List since the election are a testament to the energy, determination, and resistance we’ve seen from Day One of Donald Trump’s presidency.”
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