The Honorable Barbara Bailey Kennelly
The daughter and wife of influential Connecticut politicians, Barbara Bailey Kennelly wrote her own political narrative beginning at the state level. To advance her political goals, Kennelly earned a hard-fought assignment on the powerful Ways and Means Committee and won a spot in the Democratic Leadership as the Democratic Caucus vice chair, becoming the highest-ranking woman in the party at the time.
U.S. Representative from Connecticut (January 12, 1982-January 3, 1999)
With deep political family roots, and time on the Hartford court of common council and as Connecticut secretary of state, Barbara Bailey Kennelly came to the House in 1982 with invaluable experience and a keen knowledge of public office. Kennelly used her political connections and golf—a tool typically reserved for male Members—to stay abreast of policy issues and to earn the respect of her colleagues. In her interview, she describes her hard-fought battle for a seat on the influential Ways and Means Committee. She also talks about her leadership aspirations and ascension as the then highest-ranking-woman in the Democratic Party when she won the vice chairmanship of the Democratic Caucus for the 105th Congress (1997–1999).
Determined to stretch the boundaries for women in Congress, Kennelly aimed her sights at the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Rebuffed once, but not deterred, she eventually made history as the first woman named to the Intelligence Committee. Kennelly speaks of the connection among women Members, including her memories of how she and her female colleagues rallied around Anita Hill during the Senate confirmation hearings on the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court. Kennelly’s political experience, knowledge of the institution, and willingness to work within the system to achieve her personal and political goals defined her House service and catapulted her into the highest echelon of the Democratic Leadership.
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Running for the Ways and Means Committee
Women and the Ways and Means Committee
Chairman Rostenkowski's Leadership Style
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Accepted by Ways and Means
Whipping the House
The Intelligence Committee
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