Moderate Women are Making History

Helen Milby | May 3, 2021

Here are some quick stats on the current makeup of gender in US Politics:

  • There are currently 121 women serving in the House, 89 Democrats and 32 Republicans.
  • Women hold 24 seats in the Senate, 16 Democrats and 8 Republicans. In four states, both senators are women: Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Washington.
  • This Congress is the most diverse Congress in history. 34.5% of women in the 117th Congress are women of color: 3 in the Senate and 46 in the House.
  • There are eight female governors in the country, five Democrats and three Republicans.
  • Of the 35 US cities with populations over 500,000, ten are led by female mayors, eight of whom are Democrats.
  • Vice President Kamala Harris is the first woman, first Black American, and first American of Indian descent to hold the position of Vice President of the United States.

Women running for and winning political office in the United States is now our new normal. While we still have a way to go before reaching gender parity, each year the number of women running and winning increases, and we get closer to equal representation in politics.

But the statistics of women in office is not the whole story. It is what those women bring with them that shows the importance of women holding public office in this country.

When you think about women in Congress specifically, a few may immediately come to mind: women that, for good reason, garner national attention and near daily headlines. But if you look beyond the politicians who’ve captured the spotlight, there is a much larger group of women who are working on policy solutions and using their instincts to reach across the aisle to write bills that will become law.

The New Democrat Coalition, Chaired by Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01), is the largest ideological caucus of House Democrats, and they are united by a shared solutions-oriented approach to bridging the gap between left and right and by challenging outmoded partisan approaches to governing. The caucus is 40% female, caucus leadership is majority women, and in an election year that won’t be remembered as great for House Democrats, the five newly elected New Democrats were also all women: Congresswomen Carolyn Bourdeaux (GA-07), Sara Jacobs (CA-53), Kathy Manning (NC-06), Deborah Ross (NC-02) and Marilyn Strickland (WA-10).

The New Democrats include a lesser-known squad of women in Congress, known as the “badasses:” Elissa Slotkin (MI-08) and Abigail Spanberger (VA-06), both ex-CIA officers; Chrissy Houlahan (PA-06) who was in the Air Force; and Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) and Rep. Elaine Luria (VA-02), former Naval officers.

Each of these badass Congresswomen, now in their second terms, served their country in the armed forces prior to joining Congress. They also each flipped seats from red to blue in 2018. In Congress they hold leadership positions and bring the level of expertise needed to pass legislation that works for their constituents. Their focus is policy over press, and they have worked effectively during their short tenures thus far to pass bills that matter.

The story of the Democrats in Congress is the story of the moderate women, leading from the middle and working across the aisle to create policy solutions and sustainable coalitions. These women may not make headlines every day. They may never go viral (aside from Annie “Raise the Roof” Kuster) or become embattled in a Twitter war, but these women are doing the work to legislate to improve the lives of those in their communities.

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