December 20, 2012 — Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) on Thursday is expected to be named the new chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which would make her the first woman to hold the post, CQ HealthBeat reports. Mikulski would fill a vacancy created by the recent death of Senate President Pro Tempore Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 12/19).
Mikulski is known as "one of her party's most ardent advocates on women's issues," according to the Baltimore Sun. As Appropriations chair, she would lead a committee tasked with vetting funding for every federal agency and department.
Mikulski is currently the most senior Senate member who does not chair a committee. She also is the most senior woman in Congress and has served as a member of the Appropriations Committee since she became a senator in 1987 (Fritze, Baltimore Sun, 12/19).
Mikulski led a successful push to include a provision in the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) that requires most health plans to cover a slate of women's preventive services at no out-of-pocket cost to their members. When the provision took effect this summer, she said, "Women will have access to the health care that their doctor says they need, not what an insurance company says they need or what some right-winger wants to take away from them" (CQ HealthBeat, 12/19).
In 2009, she helped secure passage of a law that extended the statute of limitations for women to sue an employer over wage discrimination. The legislation was the first major bill President Obama signed after he took office (Baltimore Sun, 12/19).
Mikulski's appointment is indicative of the increasing influence of female lawmakers, according to the New York Times' "The Caucus." A record number of women were elected to the House and Senate this year, and Mikulski will be among six women leading one of the Senate's 20 committees (Southall, "The Caucus," New York Times, 12/19).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership