News today from Ed O’Keefe at the Washington Post is that “Women are wielding notable influence in Congress.” Is that just happening now? In a dysfunctional Congress needing much improved leadership, one might wonder, where have they been?
The answer is that the few women who are in Congress are buried under a layer of seniority with men on top. Only when men disappear do women have the opportunity to move up.
The situation today is as follows:
- American voters are lax in insisting upon more qualified candidates for public office.
- American voters are lax in insisting upon higher representation of women in public office commensurate with their representation in society.
- Women are deficient in effective political organization and asserting their rights in governance.
The League of Women Voters do their part, but much more is needed. They are pressing for three things:
- Restoring the Voting Rights Act
- Support limiting carbon pollution
- Support comprehensive immigration reform
If I were a woman, I would want to participate actively in my parties’ woman caucus.
Here is an example: Democratic Women’s Caucus
The purpose of the organization is to fund, inspire, recruit, support, and train progressive, pro-choice Democratic women to increase the numbers of women in the electoral process and in elected and appointed positions.
Why a Women's Caucus?
US Congress: Women hold 89, or 16.6%, of the 535 seats in the 112th US Congress -- 17, or 17.0%, of the 100 seats in the Senate and 72, or 16.6%, of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives. In addition, three women serve as Delegates to the House from Guam, the Virgin Islands and Washington, DC.
Statewide Elective Office: In 2011, the number of women in statewide elective executive posts is 68, or 21.9% of the 315 available positions. Among these women, 38 are Democrats, 30 are Republicans, and 1 were elected in nonpartisan races. This is lowest percentage of women in statewide elective office since 1991 (18%)!
State Legislatures: In 2011, 1,727, or 23.4%, of the 7,382 state legislators in the United States are women. Women hold 420, or 21.3%, of the 1,971 state senate seats and 1,307, or 24.2%, of the 5,411 state house seats. Since 1971, the number of women serving in state legislatures has more than quintupled. Colorado currently leads all states in this category with women holding 40% of the seats in their legislature. Indiana's State Legislature currently has women in 21.3% of their available seats.
Source:The Center for Women in Politics www.cawp.rutgers.edu/”
Here is another example: National Women’s Political Caucus
“Founded in 1971, the National Women's Political Caucus is the only national organization dedicated exclusively to increasing women's participation in all areas of political and public life -- as elected and appointed officials, as delegates to national party conventions, as judges in the state and federal courts, and as lobbyists, voters and campaign organizers. With state and local affiliates, our membership today spans across the nation.”
And, than there is this news from 2012:
“Republican Women Form New Caucus, Stress Common Goals
Tuesday, 22 May 2012 09:19 AM
By Greg McDonald
Republican women in the House have formed a new congressional caucus called the Women’s Policy Committee, a group House Speaker John Boehner said would add “a new perspective” on a variety issues facing the nation’s lawmakers.
Chaired by California Rep. Mary Bono Mack, the policy committee includes all 24 GOP women now serving in the House from 17 states.
There was no mention in a Bono Mack statement announcing the caucus group about what specifically prompted its sudden formation. But Republicans have been looking for ways to counter charges from Democrats this election year that the party is waging a “war on women” through legislation aimed at making it more difficult to obtain abortions and contraceptives."
The Washington Post story features a women in the dark who is Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) by photographer Melina Mara.
The lesson here is:
- Need more women in the pipeline
- Seniority rules
“Women are wielding notable influence in Congress
By Ed O’Keefe, Published: January 16
After decades of trying to amass power, several women have vaulted to the top of influential congressional committees, putting them in charge of some of the most consequential legislation being considered on Capitol Hill.
The $1.1 trillion spending plan Congress approved this week was the handiwork of Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) and her House counterpart, Harold Rogers (R-Ky.).
In December, when lawmakers approved a budget deal with big majorities in both chambers, credit went to Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
Next month, when attention will turn to passing a farm bill, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who has spent three years working on the measure with House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank D. Lucas (R-Okla.), will be at the center of the action. Leaders and aides in both chambers expect the bill to pass.
And women’s influence extends beyond the marquee legislation to other policy areas.”
Read the rest at the link below.