Heard on the Hill

Mikulski Hosts Her Last Post-Election Senate Women Gathering

One last hurrah for the retiring Maryland Democrat

From left to right: New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, California Sen-elect Kamala Harris, Nevada Sen.-elect Catherine Cortez Masto, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, New Hampshire Sen.-elect Maggie Hassan and Maryland Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski. (Alex Gangitano/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski typically hosts a get-together for new women elected to the Senate, but this year is special to her. Not only because is it her last, but the female freshmen are all Democrats.

Mikulski, the dean of the Senate women, teamed up with Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins to host the traditional bipartisan women’s coffee on Tuesday in her hideaway on the third floor of the Capitol.

“We came like Noah’s Ark, two by two, and now we’re 21,” Mikulski told the nine women who attended, referring to the record high number of women in the chamber.

[Meet the Senate Freshman Class of 2016]

Mikulski, who was first elected to the Senate in 1986, showed off the photographs in her office. “When I came, there were two women,” she said. 

She then pointed to a photograph from the “Year of the Woman” (1992). “And now there’s 21!” she said to cheers from the nine women. Collins was the only Republican present.

Sens.-elect Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire were the first freshmen to arrive. Both of them won their races last week by unseating Republican incumbents, Sens. Mark S. Kirk and Kelly Ayotte, respectively.

“Hi, guys!” California Sen.-elect Kamala Harris said to the media outside the reception. She arrived with fellow Sen.-elect Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada. 

As current senators walked in the room, Harris was usually the first to greet them and receive a hug. Sens. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Maria Cantwell of Washington and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii embraced the newly elected senator.

“OK, so, old news,” New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen joked to reporters, while pointing to herself as she walked in.

Exactly two years and one day ago, Mikulski hosted the same event at which GOP Sens. Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia and Joni Ernst of Iowa were notably the first eager freshmen to arrive.

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