Senator Barbara Mikulski made history as being the longest-serving woman in Congress, the first woman Democrat elected in her own right, and the first woman to wear pants on the Senate floor. On Monday, she announced her plans to retire in an appropriately badass fashion.
The Democrat from Maryland was a social worker and community organizer before she entered politics to become a member of Congress in 1975 and a Senator in 1986. She is known for her unapologetically liberal positions and has had the honor of being smeared (unsuccessfully) by her Republican opponent for her associations with a radical feminist lesbian.
“Do I spend my time raising money? Or do I spend my time raising hell?” Mikulski said during her announcement at a news conference in Baltimore on Monday. “There’s nothing gloomy about this announcement… I’m not frustrated with the Senate. The Senate will always be what the Senate is.”
Mikulski has a lot of feminist cred. She was the the chief sponsor of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, was a sponsor of legislation to overhaul the federal child care standards for low-income workers, and fought hard for the Paycheck Fairness Act. She wrote an amendment to the Affordable Care Act mandating free coverage of mammograms and other preventative health care for women.
The first woman to serve as chair of the powerful Appropriations Committee, Mikulski also fought for access to the Senate gym: “They just couldn’t accommodate me and I’m not much of a jock anyway, but that’s where they networked and that’s where they bonded.” And she was a trailblazer when it came to Congressional fashion, becoming the first woman to wear pants on the Senate floor: “I’m most comfortable wearing slacks, and well, for a woman to come on the (Senate) floor in trousers was viewed as a seismographic event.”
Thanks, Senator Mikulski. Have a fun time raising hell!