March 21, 2012

Manchin Honors Mikulski for Becoming Longest-Serving Woman in Congress

In floor speech today, Manchin says the Senate needs more women like Mikulski

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) delivered a floor speech this afternoon to honor Senator Barbara Mikulski for becoming the longest-serving female member of Congress. In joining his colleagues in paying tribute to the Maryland Senator, Senator Manchin also said that there aren’t enough women in the Senate and that he strongly believes Congress needs more women like Senator Mikulski. 

Senator Manchin’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below. 

M. President, I too am honored to be able to rise today and speak of our dear Barbara Mikulski. 

So many good things have been said, so many accolades have been shared. 

I can only tell you there’s not a better ally, mentor or neighbor – most importantly a friend – that I have in the Senate than Barbara Mikulski. 

We do share a border, and Maryland and West Virginia have had a long and illustrious relationship. As Governor, I had always known of Barbara, and met her a few times when I served the great state of West Virginia. But as Senator I have had the privilege of being her colleague, working with her, and becoming friends. 

Listening to her and how she works with her constituents, how she considers the issue, how she fights for the issue, and I don’t think anyone has ever had to guess where Barbara stands on an issue. 

In the 15 months that we have worked together, I can say that it’s extremely rewarding to serve alongside of her, whether it’s the wisdom she shares in the train as we ride over to our sessions here, or whether we talk about basically both being raised in a grocery store. My grandfather had a little grocery store, as you know, and Barbara was raised with her father in a grocery store. And I think that basically, if you have retail in your blood, you understand the people of America. 

Her sense of humor is something to behold. And every day that I have the privilege to serve with her is a good day in the Senate.  

I know my colleagues have all shared their stories about her, and they’ve had more experience with her in the Senate. As a freshman, being here a little over a year and a half, I have not had that many personal experiences except that I can tell you this: if there is a fight that breaks out, if there is something going on, you want Barbara on your side. She’s the person that you want in that foxhole. 

I know that my other colleagues will tell you about her extraordinary accomplishments, but they bear repeating. 

Senator Mikulski has now served in Congress longer than any other woman and is the first woman from my party to serve in both chambers. Along the way, she racked up countless other achievements and accolades. But most importantly, she has been an advocate for women’s health, the space program and her beloved state of Maryland. 

Last year, Senator Mikulski became first woman to reach the milestone of serving a quarter century in the Senate. I have staffers who are younger than that – staffers who tell me that they see a world of possibility because of the trail that Senator Mikulski has blazed for them. 

And we all have more to do making that trail easier for women. 

When Senator Mikulski began serving on the Hill in 1977, there were 20 other women in all of Congress. She and 17 others served in the House, while there were three in the Senate. Today, 35 years later, there are 17 women in the Senate. 

If there is anything that we can learn from Senator Mikulski, it’s that 17 women is far too few. We need more women like you, Barbara – and just as importantly, we need more Senators like you.  

Thank you, M. President, and I yield the floor.