Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) became the longest-serving woman in Congress on Saturday, but her colleagues waited until Wednesday to mark the milestone.
Mikulski, 75, holds several records, as the first woman senator from Maryland, the first woman Democrat to serve in both the House and Senate, the longest-serving woman in the Senate and, as Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) noted, the first elected to Congress “in her own right” and “not because of a husband or a father or someone who served before her in higher office.”
Seated two rows behind the Senate majority leader’s post, Mikulski listened Wednesday afternoon as several colleagues honored her tenure. Her sisters, Fran Liszewski and Chris Fajkowski, and their husbands (both named Ed) watched from the Senate gallery while Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-Md.) and former Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.) watched from the Senate floor.
Durbin and other colleagues used Mikulski’s own words to note her achievement, noting that Mikulski downplayed the importance of 1992 as “the year of the woman,” when an historic number of women were elected to the Senate.
“Calling 1992 the year of the woman makes it sound like the year of the Caribou or the year of the Asparagus,” Mikulski said at the time. “We’re not a fad, fancy or a year.”