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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, it is my honor to be here this afternoon to extend, on behalf of the Republican Conference of the U.S. Senate, our respect and admiration for the senior Senator from Maryland on achieving this important milestone.
I am sure she would be the first to tell you that becoming the longest serving woman in the Congress wasn't easy. A life in public service is filled with many highs and lows. But Barbara is nothing if not both tough and resilient.
Barbara would point to her upbringing as the daughter of a Baltimore grocer, where she learned firsthand how hard work, honesty, and determination can lead to a successful and rewarding life. She later learned, while fighting a freeway that would have destroyed several Baltimore communities, including her own, that if you fought hard enough for something you believed in, you too can make a difference. So if you knew Barbara back then, it wouldn't surprise you we are honoring her today.
Last year, when Senator Mikulski became the longest serving female Senator, she said she never saw herself as a historical figure. To me, Barbara said, history is powdered wigs and Jane Addams and Abigail Adams, both pioneers in their own right.
However, Barbara is a pioneer. She is only the second woman to be elected to both the Senate and the House. When first elected in 1986, she was only the 16th woman to serve. Today, in Congress, there are 76 women in the House and 17 in the Senate. As dean of the Senate women, she served as a role model and a mentor to many of these women. To put this in perspective: When she first arrived in the Senate, there weren't any natural mentors to teach her the ways of the Senate. At the time, even the Senate gym was off limits. A lot has changed since then, and Barbara had a lot to do with it.
Later, as more women were elected to the Senate, Barbara worked with them to help them understand the Senate and how best to be an effective Senator, both here and back home. She wanted to give back.
Most importantly, regardless of party or issue, Barbara would push her female colleagues in the Senate to think differently, encouraging them to think of themselves as a force--a force of good and, oft times, a force for change. I know many are grateful not only for Barbara's leadership and courage but for her willingness to take the time to share her experiences with them. I don't want to just be a first, Barbara once said. I want to be the first of many.
In 35 years, nearly 13,000 days as a Member of Congress, Barbara has been a champion of the space program, science research, welfare reform, major transportation, homeland security, and environmental issues in Maryland.
I wish to recognize Barbara not only for the tremendous accomplishment as the longest serving female in the history of the United States in Congress but also for all of her many accomplishments in the House and the Senate. As she once said herself, it is not how long you serve, but it is how well you serve.
I wish to recognize Barbara for the pioneering model she has been to so many women in her distinguished career.
Congratulations, Senator Mikulski.
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