How many of us knew that a historic moment for women just happened in this country? Probably not a lot, because we are all currently fed up with all the hoopla surrounding the new GOP Senate and their showdown with President Obama that is about to begin.
But let’s just forget about the old, white, crusty men for a minute and focus on the real backbone of our nation: women.
According to the Democratic Party’s Facebook account, Tuesday saw the swearing in of 65 Democratic women in the House of Representatives, the most women in a caucus in American history.
With 65 women in the House and 14 in the Senate, Democratic women make up 79 members of Congress, 18 percent. Almost 1 out of 5 members. This something to celebrate, but there is still much more work to be done.
Counting Republican and Democratic women, there are 20 women in the Senate and 84 in the House of Representatives, for a grand total of 104, approximately one quarter of Congress.
According to Politico:
*”The combined number of women in the U.S. House and Senate passed the 100 mark for the first time in November…*
*On November 3, there were 99 voting female members of Congress; starting this year, there will be 104—a pretty paltry gain. Women candidates picked up 14 new seats in Congress overall—the same as in 2010 but a far less impressive showing than in 2012, when they won 24 new seats, or in 1992’s “Year of the Woman,” when they added a memorable 28. In fact, the five seats gained by women in 2014 were more than offset by the loss of a lot of actual female power. As part of the Republican takeover, Democratic women in the Senate were forced out of their positions at the helm of six out of 16 standing committees, and only a single Republican woman is expected to replace them as a committee chair, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. In the House, only one of 21 standing committee chairmanships will be held by a woman—Michigan’s Candice Miller…”*
As women in the Democratic Party celebrate historic numbers, women in the Republican Party will be forgotten in terms of leadership and representation in committees. Is anyone surprised by that?
But we must keep our eyes peeled for women in the Republican Party. Politico’s article continued:
*”Congressional voting records examined by Brian Frederick, a professor of political science at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts, have proved that, while moderate female Republican members of the House were notably more progressive on women’s issues than their male colleagues in the 1980s and early 1990s, the arrival of increasingly conservative women in the Republican Party since has meant that, by the early 2000s, the voting records of female Republican members of Congress were “virtually ideologically indistinguishable” from those of their male colleagues. Swers has found some evidence that Republican female legislators are still more likely to make issues relating to women a priority for discussion in committee. When it comes to voting, however, they follow their party leaders.*
*It looks like we have a lot of work to do! What we need now more than ever is Nancy Pelosi, or a strong woman like Pelosi, leading the House and the Senate and the White House. Throw Ruth Bader Ginsburg the Chief Justice position too, while we’re at it.”*
*Also see http://www.academia.edu/291716/Are_Female_House_Members_Still_More_Liberal_In_a_Polarized_Era_The_Conditional_Nature_of_the_Relationship_Between_Descriptive_and_Substantive_Representation
Learn more here http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/01/104-women-in-congress-does-it-matter-113903_Page2.html#.VK_4MYrF_xh