Today’s guest post was written by writer Rachel Engel. She is optimistic about the 113th Congress and the role women will play. Yes, women have made progress, but we’re not done. Our next goal should be critical mass, at least 30 percent of Congress made up of women. After that, equity, a 50/50 split. That’s when we’ll see the true impact of women in politics.
After being told all year long about the supposed “war on women”, I’d say the 98 women who will be a part of the 113th Congress in January are a good indication that we fought back pretty well. With women now making up 20 percent of the Senate, and after several males who made completely inaccurate and foot-in-mouth comments about the female body and reproduction were defeated, it looks like the “fairer sex” will be well represented in 2013.
But, what can we expect from the 24 newcomers? Being a female in a male-dominated profession and culture can be daunting, but thankfully, these congressional women seem to have plenty of fire and drive, which is what got them elected in the first place.
Senator-Elect Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has already been appointed to the Senate Banking Committee, where she is expected to be as tenacious in reforming and penalizing Wall Street as she asserted in her campaign. According to the New York Times, Warren is seen as a possible “thorn in the side” of financial institutions, and someone who will push for more reform and regulations on Wall Street, something that could prevent another financial meltdown like that of 2008.
Wall Street institutions donated $5.5 million to Warren’s opponent, Scott Brown, who won the Massachusetts Senate seat in a special election after the death of former Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy. However, Warren raised $39 million for her campaign, more than any other candidate running for a congressional seat.
The bottom line? Warren will most likely be making noise in the Senate on behalf of middle class families in the form of regulation and banking reform, and as a Harvard law professor, she has the education and intelligence to back it up.
Senator-Elect Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc) has also been appointed to a committee already: the Senate Budget Committee, which is not an easy place to be for even veteran senators, judging from the lack of a balance of our debt.
What is also amazing and awe-inspiring about Baldwin is that she is the first openly gay person to be elected to the Senate, and was the first woman to be elected to the Senate from Wisconsin. Personally, for me, diversity is key to making sure that the minority and the quitter voices are heard in our nation, and Tammy Baldwin is one of those stories that makes that happen.
Warren and Baldwin are only two of 24 newcomers to Congress in 2013, and again, two of only 98 females that are now in Washington making decisions on our behalf. From the long lineup, I’m really optimistic that my views, concerns and opinions are going to be taken into account and fought for in the years ahead.
Rachel Engel is a Journalism major living in Texas with her husband who is active duty military, and their 15-month-old daughter who is just learning to walk and causing all sorts of trouble. Rachel reads, she is obsessed with watching the news, and she occasionally tries to get fresh air.