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Female Senators Meet for ‘Power Workshop’

Mikulski holds court at the "Power Workshop." (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Mikulski holds court at the "Power Workshop." (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Right at the border between the House and the Senate sits a hideaway office, adorned with two chandeliers and pictures of past female senators.  

Future and current women of the Senate ascended the Capitol steps to the glittering room after the final votes Thursday evening for the “Senate Women Power Workshop” hosted by the dean of the Senate women, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md.  

“Hellooo, sorry I’m late!” Mikulski was overheard saying as she entered the room. From outside the tall wooden doors, one could hear Sen.-elect Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., respond, “I’m Shelley.” “Oh, I know,” Mikulski cheerfully replied.  

Capito and fellow Sen.-elect Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, were the first to arrive at the soiree, which was complete with tea, coffee and cookies on the table.  

An aide said the meeting was to get to know the incoming senators, but other topics were kept under wraps. Media was told there would be no questions taken at the brief photo opportunity before the meeting. When asked about the workshop in the Senate subway, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said she wasn’t going to talk about it.  

Gillibrand was among the handful of Democratic women welcoming the future Republican senators. Notably absent was one member of the new Democratic leadership team , though, Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren.  

Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., also was not in attendance, but she did come up during the brief moments when media was allowed in to take pictures.  

Mikulski was explaining the pictures of female senators on the walls and noted how the next Congress could have another record number of women in the Senate.  

“Presuming Sen. Landrieu is re-elected,” said Mikulski, “we will be up to …” to which a few other other senators responded, “21.”  Half of the current 20 women in the Senate attended the “power workshop.”  

The Maryland Democrat also explained how the traditional gathering has been occurring for the past two decades. “Starting in 1992, with the year of the woman, I ran a power workshop for the new women,” said Mikulski, as she nudged Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who came to the Senate that year.  

Although Democrats are relinquishing their majority at the start of the next Congress, Mikulski also said that the women of the Senate could find ways to work together.  

“We’re not a caucus because we have different views,” she said, “but we’re a force on how to get some things done.”  

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