Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., told Andrea Mitchell Friday that Congress’s best bet for a more productive future lies with its women’s caucus.
“The real hope for Congress is in the women,” Gillibrand said. ”One of the reasons why I worked so hard to get women elected this last cycle was because women often are very good at building consensus, crossing party lines and getting things done.”
The 113th Congress boasts 81 congresswomen and 20 female senators–not yet at parity with the U.S. population, but a record number nonetheless.
Gillibrand told Mitchell that women excel at working across party lines, and that she credits much of her success to support from female colleagues:
I can tell you from my own experience, anytime I’ve ever worked hard to get something done, I’ve only been successful because I’ve had a Republican woman helping me get legislation across the finish line. So whether it was Susan Collins spearheading the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal, or the Stock Act with me, that made a difference. She helped get the votes on the Republican side. Lisa Murkowski was indispensable in helping us pass that 9-11 health bill because she went to those caucus meetings every week and made the case for our first responders.
So what I’ve found in my own experience is that women are often good at finding those core common values that we share, and then building from there. And that’s why I believe that if we can get to 51% in Congress, we can make a huge difference. We could talk about the economy, we could talk about jobs, we could get things done and not be distracted with issues that shouldn’t be the focus of Congress, like contraception was in the last Congress. So I think women can focus the debate, can bring those common values to bear, and frankly they often just want to get things done. They often are drawn to public service because they want to fix something and get something done. And they bring that sensibility of their own life experience to the table and I think it’s helpful.