Muftiah McCartin worked in the Parliamentarian’s Office for 29 years and was the first woman to hold the position of assistant parliamentarian in the House. Her expertise in parliamentary procedure led her to the House Appropriations and Rules committees, where she drafted legislation on antipoverty programs and healthcare.
Drawn to Washington, D.C., by the excitement of the Watergate hearings, Muftiah McCartin looked for a job on Capitol Hill in the early 1970s. After interviewing with a number of offices, she took a secretarial position in the House Parliamentarian’s Office and planned to stay for six months. Thirty-four years later, she had built an impressive career as a parliamentarian and a committee staffer, becoming the first woman to hold the title of assistant House parliamentarian.
In her interview, McCartin traces her first 10 years on the Hill as the only woman in her office. Her male colleagues in the Parliamentarian’s Office, as well as Speaker Tip O'Neill, encouraged her while she worked full time, earned her law degree, and raised her child as a single parent. McCartin describes her experience providing nonpartisan procedural guidance for Members, as well as her role in significant moments on the House Floor, including a ruling during the impeachment of President William J. “Bill” Clinton in 1998. She also recalls her transition to committee work, where she learned how to create legislation and eventually served as staff director for the House Rules Committee.
McCartin was born in 1955 and grew up in Northern Virginia. The Watergate crisis and the series of reforms that followed drew her to the Hill shortly after she graduated from Robinson High School in Fairfax, Virginia. She accepted a job with House Parliamentarian Bill Brown in 1976 and quickly developed close relationships with her colleagues. With their encouragement, McCartin furthered her education in order to advance her career.
While working full time and raising her daughter as a single parent, McCartin completed an undergraduate degree in political science through the University Without Walls program offered by Northeastern Illinois University in 1985. In 1990, she earned a law degree from Georgetown Law. As a parliamentarian, she worked on the dais with presiding officers, assisted Representatives and committees with their legislative duties, and created procedural reference records.
In 2006, after 29 years in the Parliamentarian’s Office, McCartin joined the staff of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and worked to create antipoverty programs. In 2007, she became the deputy staff director for the Rules Committee, and two years later served as the committee’s staff director. In 2010, McCartin retired from the House. She now works as counsel at a Washington law firm.