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Barbara Mikulski

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Overview

Barbara Mikulski
United States Senator
from Maryland
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 3, 1987
Serving with Ben Cardin
Preceded by Charles Mathias, Jr.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations
Incumbent
Assumed office
December 17, 2012
Preceded by Daniel Inouye
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 3rd district
In office
January 3, 1977 – January 3, 1987
Preceded by Paul Sarbanes
Succeeded by Ben Cardin
Member of the Baltimore City Council
In office
January 16, 1971 – January 18, 1976
Personal details
Born Barbara Ann Mikulski
(1936-07-20) July 20, 1936 (age 78)
Baltimore, Maryland
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) None
Residence Baltimore, Maryland
Alma mater Mount Saint Agnes College (B.A.)
University of Maryland (M.S.W.)
Profession Social Worker
Religion Roman Catholic
Signature
Website www.mikulski.senate.gov


Barbara Mikulski official portrait c. 2011 - Barbara Mikulski
Barbara Mikulski official portrait c. 2011

Barbara Ann Mikulski (born July 20, 1936) is the senior United States Senator from Maryland and a member of the Democratic Party, serving since 1987. Mikulski, a former United States Representative from 1977 to 1987, is the longest-serving woman in the history of the U.S. Congress.[1]

Raised in the Highlandtown neighborhood of East Baltimore, Mikulski attended Mount Saint Agnes College and the University of Maryland School of Social Work. Originally a social worker and community organizer, she was elected to the Baltimore City Council in 1971 after delivering a highly publicized address on the "ethnic movement" in America. She was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1976, and in 1986 she became the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Maryland.

Mikulski has chaired the Senate Appropriations Committee, the first woman and Marylander to hold the position,[2] since the death of Senator Daniel Inouye in December 2012.[3] She also serves on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and the Select Committee on Intelligence.

Early life, education and career

The great-granddaughter of Polish immigrants who owned a local bakery, Barbara Mikulski is the oldest of three daughters of Christine Eleanor (née Kutz) and William Mikulski.[4][5] She was born and raised in the Highlandtown neighborhood of East Baltimore. During her high school years at the Institute of Notre Dame,[6] she worked in her parents' grocery store, delivering groceries to seniors in her neighborhood who were unable to leave their homes.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Mount Saint Agnes College (now a part of Loyola University Maryland) in 1958,[6] she obtained her master's degree in social work (MSW) from the University of Maryland School of Social Work in 1965.[7] She worked as a social worker for Catholic charities and Baltimore's Department of Social Services, helping at-risk children and educating seniors about the Medicare program. Mikulski became an activist social worker when she heard about plans to build a 16-lane highway through Baltimore's Fells Point and Canton neighborhoods. She helped organize communities on both sides of the city and successfully fought to stop the construction of the road.

Early political career

Mikulski received her first national attention in 1970 as a result of her remarks at a conference at The Catholic University of America regarding “Ethnic Americans”, convened by Msgr. Geno Baroni. Her message became one of the major documents of the “ethnic movement”.

Mikulski challenged Charles Mathias for his Senate seat in 1974. - Barbara Mikulski
Mikulski challenged Charles Mathias for his Senate seat in 1974.

Mikulski's activism led to a seat on the Baltimore City Council in 1971. She then ran for the U.S. Senate in 1974, winning the Democratic nomination to face Republican incumbent Charles Mathias. Although well-known to residents in her city, Mikulski had limited name recognition in the rest of the state.[9]

As an advocate for campaign finance reform, Mathias refused to accept any contribution over $100 to "avoid the curse of big money that has led to so much trouble in the last year".[10] However, he still managed to raise over $250,000, nearly five times Mikulski's total. Ideologically, Mikulski and Mathias agreed on many issues, such as closing tax loopholes and easing taxes on the middle class. On two issues, however, Mathias argued to reform Congress and the U.S. tax system to address inflation and corporate price fixing, contrary to Mikulski.[9] In retrospect, The Washington Post felt the election was "an intelligent discussion of state, national, and foreign affairs by two smart, well-informed people".[11]

With Maryland voters, Mathias benefited from his frequent disagreements with the Nixon administration and his liberal voting record. On November 5, 1974, he was re-elected by a 57% to 43% margin, though he lost badly in Baltimore City and Baltimore County, where Mikulski was popular.[9] It has thus far been the only election that Mikulski ever lost.

In 1976, Paul Sarbanes gave up his seat in Maryland's 3rd congressional district to make a successful run for the Senate. Mikulski won a crowded seven-way Democratic primary—the real contest in this heavily Democratic district—and breezed to victory in November elections. She was reelected four more times, never facing substantive opposition.

U.S. Senate

Elections

Mikulski speaking to a patient at a military hospital, 1980. - Barbara Mikulski
Mikulski speaking to a patient at a military hospital, 1980.
Mikulski with Steny Hoyer presenting a photo to Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in Greenbelt, Maryland - Barbara Mikulski
Mikulski with Steny Hoyer presenting a photo to Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in Greenbelt, Maryland

Mathias announced his retirement before the 1986 elections. At the time of this announcement, it was expected that then-Governor Harry Hughes would be the favorite to succeed Mathias. However, Hughes became caught up in the aftermath of the Maryland savings and loan crisis. He lost popularity with voters, opening the door for Mikulski's bid for the Senate. The Republican nominee was Linda Chavez, who left her post as Assistant to the President for Public Liaison in an attempt to win the seat. The election was the second time in modern U.S. history that two women faced each other in a statewide general election. The race was covered by national media, with observers noting that Chavez was very unlikely to win.[12]

In the campaign, Chavez attacked Mikulski, a lifelong Baltimore resident, as a "San Francisco-style, George McGovern, liberal Democrat."[13] Chavez was accused of making Mikulski's sexual orientation a central issue of the political campaign.[14] Chavez wrote that the term referred to Jeane Kirkpatrick's 1984 Republican National Convention "Blame America First" speech, in which she coined the phrase "San Francisco Liberal" in reference to the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco.[13] Using political advertisements and press conferences, Chavez attacked Mikulski's former aide Teresa Brennan as "anti-male" and a "radical feminist", implying that Brennan and Mikulski were radical lesbians and that "fascist feminism" was Mikulski's political philosophy.[15][16] Brennan had not been part of Mikulski's staff for five years, but Chavez implied Brennan was still working on Mikulski's campaign.[17] Secure in the knowledge that Chavez was a long-shot candidate, Mikulski did not respond in kind to the attacks. She defeated Chavez with 61% of the vote.[18] She became the first female Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate in her own right (not appointed or filling a seat of a deceased husband). Mikulski was the first woman who was elected to the Senate who did not have a husband or father who served in high political office.[19] She also served alongside Paul Sarbanes, the man she'd succeeded in the House.

Mikulski, popularly known as "Senator Barb", was re-elected with large majorities in 1992, 1998, 2004, and 2010. Having won re-election in 2010, she has surpassed Margaret Chase Smith as the longest-serving female senator.[20] ABC News named Mikulski its Person of the Week for that milestone.[21] On March 17, 2012, she became the longest-serving female member of Congress in the history of the United States, surpassing the previous record-holder, Rep. Edith Nourse Rogers of Massachusetts, who served from 1925 to 1960.[22]

Senator Mikulski joins Senator Kit Bond and actor David Hyde Pierce in promoting awareness of Alzheimer's disease. - Barbara Mikulski
Senator Mikulski joins Senator Kit Bond and actor David Hyde Pierce in promoting awareness of Alzheimer's disease.
Mikulski speaks at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. - Barbara Mikulski
Mikulski speaks at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

In September 2009, the "tell-all" book The Clinton Tapes revealed that during the 2000 presidential election, President Bill Clinton suggested Mikulski as a running mate for Al Gore, who instead chose her colleague Joe Lieberman.[23] In 2007, Mikulski endorsed her colleague, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), for President of the United States, praising her as a leader and citing her desire to break the "glass ceiling" by electing the first woman president.

Since 2007, Mikulski has served alongside Ben Cardin, who succeeded her in the 3rd District and held it for 20 years until succeeding Sarbanes in the Senate.

Legislation

On June 3, 2013, Mikulski introduced the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2013 (S. 1086; 113th Congress), which passed in the Senate.[24] The bill would reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 1990 to provide block grants to the states to help low-income parents find child care for their children.[25] In addition to reauthorizing the program, it also makes amendments to the law to try to improve it. Some of those improvements include required background checks on grant recipients and annual inspections.[25] Mikulski argued that "this bill ensures that all children get the care they need and deserve."[25]

On April 1, 2014, Mikulski introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 2199; 113th Congress).[26] It is a bill that "punishes employers for retaliating against workers who share wage information, puts the justification burden on employers as to why someone is paid less and allows workers to sue for punitive damages of wage discrimination."[27] Mikulski said that "it brings tears to my eyes to know women are working so hard and being paid less" and that "it makes me emotional when I hear that... I get angry, I get outraged and I get volcanic."[27]

Committee assignments

Mikulski serves on the following Senate committees (standing committees in bold):

Political positions

Mikulski was one of 11 senators to vote against both the 1991 and 2002 resolutions authorizing the use of force in Iraq.[28][29]

Mikulski has opposed predatory lending, and has had been an outspoken opponent of Fairbanks Capital (now Select Portfolio Servicing), alleged to have illegally foreclosed on over 100 homes in Maryland.[30]

Mikulski voted in favor of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which granted immunity to the telecom companies that cooperated with the NSA in warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens.[31]

On October 1, 2008, Mikulski voted in favor of HR1424, the Senate version of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which provided a $700 billion bailout to the United States financial market.

In October 2013, Mikulski sponsored a bill honoring naturopathic medicine.[32]

Mikulski's support of renewable energy and the environment has been questioned by her insertion of legislative language into the Senate's 2015 Defense Appropriation bill which would delay (and effectively kill) a wind farm on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.[33] Mikulski cited "very serious reservations about the impact on Patuxent River Naval Air Station's ability to do its job." When he vetoed state legislation that would have similarly delayed the project, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley noted that there were already adequate safeguards in place and that a delay would send a "chilling message" to the clean-energy industry.[34]

Mikulski has been voted the "meanest senator" in Washingtonian's survey of congressional staffers.[35]

Electoral history

Year Office Election Subject Party Votes  % Opponent Party Votes  %
1974 MD Senator, Class 3 General Charles Mathias Republican 503,223 57.3% Barbara Mikulski Democratic 374,563 42.7%
1976 Congress, MD 3rd district General Barbara Mikulski Democratic 143,461 74.59% Samuel Culotta Republican 36,447 25.41%
1978 Congress, MD 3rd district General Barbara Mikulski Democratic 91,189 100% Unopposed
1980 Congress, MD 3rd district General Barbara Mikulski Democratic 134,367 76.13% Russell Schaffer Republican 32,074 23.87%
1982 Congress, MD 3rd district General Barbara Mikulski Democratic 110,042 74.2% Robert Scherr Republican 38,259 25.8%
1984 Congress, MD 3rd district General Barbara Mikulski Democratic 133,189 68.21% Ross Pierpont Republican 59,493 30.47%
1986 MD Senator, Class 3 General Barbara Mikulski Democratic 675,225 60.69% Linda Chavez Republican 437,411 39.31%
1992 MD Senator, Class 3 General Barbara Mikulski Democratic 1,307,610 71% Alan Keyes Republican 533,688 28.98%
1998 MD Senator, Class 3 General Barbara Mikulski Democratic 1,062,810 70.5% Ross Pierpont Republican 444,637 29.5%
2004 MD Senator, Class 3 General Barbara Mikulski Democratic 1,504,691 64.77% E. J. Pipkin Republican 783,055 33.71%
2010 MD Senator, Class 3 General Barbara Mikulski Democratic 1,093,646 61.82% Eric Wargotz Republican 639,155 36.13%

References

  1. ^ Ed O'Keefe (21 March 2012). "Barbara Mikulski honored as longest-serving woman in Congress". The Washington Post. Retrieved 6 November 2013. 
  2. ^ http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/about-chairman.cfm
  3. ^ "Mikulski to Take Appropriations Post as Leahy Stays at Judiciary". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 19 December 2012. 
  4. ^ rootsweb.com
  5. ^ "Christine Mikulski, Mother of U.S. Senator, Dies". The Washington Post. April 1, 1996. p. B.04. 
  6. ^ a b Weiss, Max. "The Baltimore Grill: Barbara Mikulski," Baltimore (magazine), August 2007.
  7. ^ Senator Barbara Ann Mikulski (biography) – Poles in America Foundation, Inc.
  8. ^ O’Rourke, Lawrence “GENO: The Life and Mission of Geno Baroni”, Paulist Press. (1991), p 87.
  9. ^ a b c Barker, Karlyn (November 6, 1974). "Mathias Is Elected To a Second Term". The Washington Post. p. A12. 
  10. ^ Richards, Bill (February 3, 1974). "Sen. Mathias Re-Election Drive Opens". The Washington Post. p. B1. 
  11. ^ "U.S. Senate Choice in Maryland". The Washington Post. October 22, 1980. p. A22. 
  12. ^ Philip D. Duncan, Brian Nutting, ed. (1999). CQ's Politics in America 2000: the 106th Congress. CQ Press. p. 606. ISBN 1568024703. 
  13. ^ a b Miller, John J. (July 8, 2004). "The Outing". National Review Online. 
  14. ^ Aitken, Lee (November 3, 1986). "Barbara Mikulski and Linda Chavez Stage a Gloves-Off Battle in a Women-Only U.S. Senate Race". People. Retrieved June 26, 2012. 
  15. ^ Kamber, Victor (2003). Poison Politics: Are Negative Campaigns Destroying Democracy?. Basic Books. p. 152. ISBN 0738208728. 
  16. ^ Sheckels, Theodore F. (2006). Maryland Politics and Political Communication, 1950–2005. Lexington Books. p. 84. ISBN 0739114158. 
  17. ^ Harari, Fiona (2011). A Tragedy in Two Acts: Marcus Einfeld and Teresa Brennan. Melbourne Univ. Publishing. p. 70. ISBN 052286046X. 
  18. ^ Dendy, Dallas L., Jr.; Anderson, Donnald K. (1987). "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 4, 1986". U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved August 3, 2012. 
  19. ^ Almanac of American Politics. National Journal. 2012. p. 739. 
  20. ^ Marbella, Jean "Mikulski's milestone: the Senate's longest-serving woman" The Baltimore Sun January 5, 2011
  21. ^ Netter, Sarah, and Jaffe, Matthew, "Person of the Week: Sen. Barbara Mikulski Makes History as Longest-Serving Female Senator". ABC News, January 7, 2011
  22. ^ CNN.com: Mikulski makes history while creating 'zone of civility' for Senate women
  23. ^ In 'The Clinton Tapes,' Bill Clinton Disses Bush, Dowd, Gore and More
  24. ^ "S. 1086 - Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved 13 March 2014. 
  25. ^ a b c Cox, Ramsey (13 March 2014). "Senate passes child care bill". The Hill. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  26. ^ "S. 2199 - All Actions". United States Congress. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  27. ^ a b Ramsey Cox; Alexander Bolton (9 April 2014). "Senate GOP blocks paycheck bill". The Hill. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  28. ^ U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote
  29. ^ U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote
  30. ^ "Mikulski Joins FTC and HUD to Announce Major Settlement for Victims of Fairbanks Capital". Office of Senator Barbara Mikulski. November 12, 2003. Retrieved June 26, 2012. 
  31. ^ "Blog Archive » Democrats Against Barbara Mikulski". Irregular Times. December 8, 2009. Retrieved August 29, 2010. 
  32. ^ http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th/senate-resolution/221/text
  33. ^ http://centermaryland.org/index.php?option=com_easyblog&view=entry&id=907&Itemid=178
  34. ^ http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/proposed-wind-farm-on-marylands-eastern-shore-again-threatened-with-delay/2014/08/01/c8ecefde-1756-11e4-9e3b-7f2f110c6265_story.html
  35. ^ "Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D)". National Journal Almanac. Retrieved 15 August 2014. 

Further reading

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