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Women senators ‘shame the guys to hurry up and vote’

Female lawmakers push their male colleagues to pick up the pace

Sens. Joe Manchin and Lisa Murkowski backed the bipartisan legislation.
Sens. Joe Manchin and Lisa Murkowski backed the bipartisan legislation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The women of the United States Senate took their colleagues to task Wednesday for taking too long to vote.

In the middle of a vote series that typically would have appeared mundane— with members frequently leaving the floor during one vote and returning during the next, or sitting in the cloakroom on their cell phones — most of the women were seated at desks, calling for regular order in an attempt to speed up what have become increasingly long series.

The plan came together Tuesday evening during a bipartisan dinner, a longstanding tradition among the female senators.

“The women senators had dinner last night and we said ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could actually do the votes in the time that we’re allocated,’” New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen said. “I think people feel like there’s just too much time wasted.”

Hawaii Democrat Mazie K. Hirono said Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski came up with the idea.

“There was discussion about ‘Why the heck is this taking so long?’ so Lisa said we should be on the floor, sit on the floor and basically shame the guys to hurry up and vote,” Hirono said.

The bipartisan group, which very much hopes their colleagues keep up the speedier pace, gave itself a name.

“We’re calling ourselves the Efficiency Caucus,” said Nevada Democrat Jacky Rosen. “We just were hoping that when we have a lot of votes we can get them done in time, because we all have a lot of hearings, important things to do and if people just sat in their seats we could get through the roll call.”

During Wednesday afternoon’s vote series nearly all of the Senate’s 25 female lawmakers could be seen seated at their desks calling for regular order — at first pretty much ignored by their colleagues.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar used an empty glass inkwell on her desk as a makeshift gavel as several of her colleagues — both Republicans and Democrats — yelled “regular order.”

Before the third vote began, Murkowski sought to motivate her fellow senators to vote within the amount of time in which they were supposed to.

“Just requesting that these 10-minute votes be true 10-minutes votes, in fact less than 10-minute votes,” Murkowski said to cheers from her female colleagues.

The remaining votes were somewhat in line with the amount of the time they were supposed to last, with several of the male senators staying on the Senate floor to vote by showing a thumbs up or a thumbs down to the bill clerk.

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