All-Women Slate Will Lead Congress’ Efforts to Keep the Government Funded
In the intensely divided 118th Congress, the job of leading bipartisan efforts to keep the government funded will belong to four women lawmakers for the first time ever.
Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington will become the second woman ever to lead the Senate Appropriations Committee; she’ll work alongside Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who will be the highest-ranking Republican on the panel.
In the lower chamber, Rep. Kay Granger of Texas will take the helm of the House Appropriations Committee, becoming the first Republican woman to hold the post. The panel’s former chair, Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, who was the second woman ever to chair the panel, will lead Democrats on the committee as the ranking member.
The leadership positions — known on Capitol Hill as the “four corners” — will be at the center of the most consequential disputes in a Congress where divided government means little policymaking is likely to happen outside of appropriations bills. Observers say the historic first marks an important milestone for veteran women in Congress. It also raises questions about whether this all-women slate will break through the gridlock and build consensus more effectively than their male predecessors, and how they will negotiate on issues that heavily impact women.
“In this Congress, funding the government is pretty much the biggest of the must-pass things,” said Michele Swers, an expert on women in politics at Georgetown University.
Swers, who has long studied women in Congress, said her research shows that women lawmakers are more likely to spend political capital on issues that impact women and families, including abortion, health care policy and spending on social welfare programs.