MIKULSKI, Barbara Ann



Barbara A. Mikulski, the longest-serving woman in congressional history, started her career as an activist in her native Baltimore, before winning election to the U.S. House and then the Senate. “I didn’t come into politics by the traditional male route,” she once said, “being in a nice law firm or belonging to the right clubs.” During her 40 years in Congress, Mikulski was a tireless advocate for Maryland, and applied the instincts she developed fighting for causes in Baltimore to major national issues. “Like most of the women I’ve known in politics,” she said, “I got involved because I saw a community in need.”1

Barbara Ann Mikulski was born on July 20, 1936, in Baltimore, Maryland, to William and Christine Mikulski, grocers in the Highlandtown section of Baltimore who lived near their business.2 She graduated from Mount Saint Agnes College in Baltimore with a degree in social work in 1958 and worked as a caseworker for Associated Catholic Charities and the Baltimore Department of Social Services. She went on to earn a master’s of social work from the University of Maryland in 1965.

In 1969 the state of Maryland announced plans to build an expressway through southeast Baltimore. The route promised to raze whole city blocks and wreak havoc on the neighborhoods where Mikulski had grown up. In response, she jumped into local politics and spearheaded the opposition to the new highway. She coordinated protests in her Polish East Baltimore neighborhood and linked up with African-American activists in West Baltimore to expand the movement against the proposed thoroughfare. During the protests Mikulski helped establish the Southeast Council Against the Road and became the face of Baltimore’s opposition to the expressway. Eventually, Mikulski succeeded, and the state shelved the plan for the new road. “The British couldn’t take Fells Point, the termites couldn’t take Fells Point and we don’t think the State Roads Commission can take Fells Point either,” Mikulski told the Baltimore Sun in October 1969.3

Out of these protests Mikulski developed a political philosophy that championed working-class Americans, many from largely ethnic communities like her Polish- American and Italian-American neighbors—the people who “constructed the skyscrapers, operated the railroads, worked on the docks, factories, steel mills and in the mines,” she said in 1970. As a next step, Mikulski sought to become their voice in Maryland’s politics. “What is necessary is to get rid of the guilt of phony liberals, control by economic elitists and the manipulation by selfish politicians,” she wrote. “Then, let us get on with creating the democratic and pluralistic society that we say we are.”4

Mikulski sought a seat on the Baltimore city council in 1971 to represent a constituency of the largely white working-class “ethnic Americans” she grew up around. Campaigning door-to-door, she ran on a platform to improve housing and transportation. She won the Democratic primary over three former councilmen and went on to win the general election unopposed.5 Because of her advocacy work, she caught the attention of national Democratic leaders. During the 1972 presidential campaign, for instance, Mikulski became a special adviser to vice presidential candidate, R. Sargent Shriver of Maryland, the first head of the Peace Corps and an in-law of the late-President John F. Kennedy.

Following the re-election of Republican President Richard M. Nixon in 1972, Mikulski was named vice chair of the Democratic Party’s Commission on Delegate Selection and Party Structure, which had a mandate to help Democrats avert similar electoral catastrophe in 1976. When Leonard Woodcock, the president of the United Auto Workers and chairman of the Democratic commission, resigned, Mikulski took over.6 The commission—what became known as the Mikulski Commission for her leadership—unanimously recommended eliminating winner-take-all primaries and instead assigning delegates to the national party convention on a scale proportional to the vote totals in each state. The party adopted most of the commission’s recommendations.7

In 1974 Mikulski ran for a seat in the United States Senate from Maryland. Despite her local popularity and national reputation, Mikulski lost to moderate Republican Senator Charles McCurdy Mathias Jr. of Maryland in the general election, taking 42 percent of the vote; Mathias escaped the nationwide GOP drubbing in the wake of the Watergate Scandal and President Nixon’s resignation. But Mikulski vowed to run again. “I intend to make the voice of my supporters heard at every level of government because I am a household word just like Brillo, Borax and everything else you see from day to day.”8

Two years later, in 1976, Mikulski campaigned for a seat in the House from Baltimore being vacated by Representative Paul Spyros Sarbanes. Back on her home turf, Mikulski joyfully described “knocking on 15,000 doors, wearing out four pairs of shoes, and getting mugged by 47 chihuahuas.”9 Mikulski quickly came to the attention of the House Public Works Committee Chairman Jim Wright of Texas. Wright, who was planning to run for House Majority Leader and wanted to bolster his support, began funneling campaign contributions from wealthy Texans to candidates like Mikulski. She also invited Wright to campaign for her in Baltimore, figuring that he would be a useful ally in the House.10

Tapping into an extensive network of community organizations and national party leaders, she won 75 percent of the vote in her first congressional race and never faced a serious challenge in her four re-elections to the House, winning by margins of 74 percent or greater.11 “All the things people thought were going to be her negatives, that she was a woman, ethnic, from Baltimore, some people would say a loudmouth, all these are her positives,” said one of her aides.12 Throughout her congressional career Mikulski lived in Baltimore, commuting daily to her office on Capitol Hill. “She’s very much a part of Baltimore,” Sarbanes recalled. “People identify with her, I think. They see her as a fighter. They appreciate that.”13

Arriving in the 95th Congress (1977–1979), Mikulski did not fit the description of a typical Member of Congress. “Rep. Mikulski stands a rumpled 4 feet 11 inches tall and shouts as often as she speaks,” a Wall Street Journal reporter wrote.14 A lifelong advocate of women’s rights, Mikulski also was a founding member of the Congresswomen’s Caucus in 1977. She became the first woman to serve on the powerful Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce (now Energy and Commerce), a post she held for her entire House career. Mikulski also served on the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee—a committee with jurisdiction over important policy that affected Baltimore’s shipping industry and inner harbor.15 “So much of what I’ve worked on in Congress doesn’t have any ideological bent,” Mikulski said.16 She chaired the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Subcommittee on Oceanography in the 99th Congress (1985–1987). In the 98th Congress (1983–1985), Mikulski served on the House Select Committee on Children, Youth, and Families, which developed legislation to address family needs in a changing economy. “I’ve learned the rules,” Mikulski said of her time in the House. “I know how to play the game. I can go to the mat.”17

Mikulski’s work on the Energy and Commerce Committee focused on consumer and environmental advocacy. She backed a bill which forced chemical companies to clean up toxic waste sites and supported a law requiring used-car dealers to disclose a vehicle’s history.18 “If it’s not a farm, if it’s not a missile, and if it’s not a tax,” Mikulski would say about the committee’s ample jurisdiction, “it’s in the Energy and Commerce Committee.”19 She took advantage of her position to promote women’s health care by ensuring that women were included in clinical trials conducted by the National Institutes of Health, based in Bethesda, Maryland.20 She also became a voice for aid organizations. In the early 1980s, she inserted a “good guy” bonus into legislation which allowed hospitals that cut costs to be spared cuts in Medicaid funding.21

During the 1980 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, Mikulski tried to push her party to the left when she endorsed Senator Edward Moore (Ted) Kennedy of Massachusetts in his challenge to President Jimmy Carter. She introduced Kennedy at a fundraiser by joking they shared some similarities: “Our fathers were entrepreneurs. My father owned a small grocery store, your father owned Boston.” Mikulski was scheduled to formally nominate Kennedy at the convention until he withdrew from the race the day before.22

The Carter–Kennedy contest highlighted Mikulski’s style of working-class liberalism. “I think what people confuse our party with is the difference between being progressive and permissive,” she said. “Democrats believe in a progressive society: the expansion of democracy, the expansion of opportunity, the expansion of self-help. At the same time, that has often been confused with the permissiveness that has generally occurred in our society and has had nothing to do with the Democratic Party.”23 Four years later the Democratic presidential nominee, Walter F. Mondale, had Mikulski’s name on a short list of vice presidential running mates.24

When Maryland Senator Charles Mathias announced that he would not run for re-election in 1986, Mikulski entered the race for the Senate. She faced two challengers in the Democratic primary: Maryland Governor Harry Hughes and her House colleague Michael Darr Barnes. Mikulski got out ahead early. Hughes caught blame for his slow reaction to the nationwide savings and loan crisis, and Barnes, who focused more on foreign policy, never found his footing. By March 1986, Mikulski had a 22-point lead over Hughes and a two-to-one advantage in campaign contributions.25 She also picked up crucial endorsements from unions, local interest groups, and national organizations such as EMILY’s List.26 As a result, Mikulski won the primary with 53 percent of the vote.27 “People know me, and they feel that I’m a worker,” she said. “You might say I’m a 20-year overnight success.”28

In the general election Mikulski faced President Ronald Reagan’s former aide Linda Chavez—only the third time in United States history that two major party nominees for the Senate were women. Mikulski received donations from feminist organizations, and her fundraisers were often star-studded affairs.29 Mikulski won in November with 61 percent of the vote. In her four subsequent re-elections, Mikulski won by large margins.30 “People are accustomed to her being there,” lamented her 2010 opponent Eric Wargotz. “They’re comfortable with her name identification—her name identification is 100 percent, or 95 percent. And it’s hard for folks to pull the other lever.”31

By the time Mikulski took her seat in 1987 only 15 women had ever served in the United States Senate. The gender gap became even more apparent in 1991 when civil rights lawyer Anita Hill accused her former supervisor, then Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, of sexual harassment during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearings. At the time, no woman Senator served on the Judiciary Committee and the abrasive treatment Hill received from the all-male committee underscored the gender imbalance in the Senate. Looking to correct some of the disparity, Mikulski quickly took on a larger role on Capitol Hill. Her Democratic Senate colleagues designated her assistant floor leader in 1993, and in 1995 elected her Secretary of the Democratic Caucus, making her the third-ranking official in party leadership. She held the position for a decade.32

When the Washington Post published allegations of sexual harassment against Senator Robert William Packwood of Oregon in November 1992, the specter of the Thomas hearings re-emerged. Packwood won re-election that year, and in 1995 he became chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. As the only woman on the Senate Committee on Ethics, Mikulski, backed by her female colleagues and by outside women’s groups, called for public hearings into the accusations. Mikulski defended her request for an investigation on the Senate Floor, but the Republican majority turned her down. After additional allegations emerged, Packwood resigned as the Senate considered expelling him.33

Over the course of her career, Mikulski blazed trails for women working and serving in Congress. Some were sweeping policy changes, while others dealt with everyday life on Capitol Hill. When she first arrived in the Senate, for instance, Mikulski befriended Republican Senator Nancy Landon Kassebaum of Kansas, the only other woman Senator at the time. In 1993 they carried out a protest to allow women to wear pants on the Senate Floor. Mikulski and Kassebaum, along with women staffers, arrived one weekend in pantsuits. “The Senate parliamentarian had looked at the rules to see if it was okay,” Mikulski recalled. “So, I walk on that day and you would have thought I was walking on the moon. It caused a big stir.” Suits have been allowed ever since.34

Mikulski served on five committees during her Senate career: Appropriations; Labor and Human Resources (renamed Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, or HELP); Small Business; Ethics; and the Select Committee on Intelligence.

Following her election in 1986, Mikulski conferred with Maryland’s other Senator, Paul Sarbanes, on securing a seat on the influential Appropriations Committee. Together they successfully lobbied Democratic Leader Robert Carlyle Byrd of West Virginia and her old ally Edward Kennedy, who sat on the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee which influenced committee assignments.35 “She’s very, very effective because she’s on appropriations,” California Senator Barbara Boxer said in 2011. “She has a bigger role as the senior woman that she is wonderful at using. Her power lies in her ability to organize.”36 Over her career, Mikulski chaired a number of Appropriations subcommittees: in the 107th Congress (2001–2003), she led the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies, and in the 110th and 111th Congresses (2007–2011) she chaired the Subcommittee on Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies.

Upon the death of Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Ken Inouye of Hawaii in December 2012, Mikulski—who at the time “had been the most senior member of the U.S. Senate without a committee gavel,” noted the Baltimore Sun—became the first woman to lead the powerful spending committee. This also ended her time as the longest-serving Senate Democrat who had never chaired a standing committee. Mikulski went on to serve as the committee’s leader through the 113th Congress (2013–2015).37

Senator Kennedy had first recruited Mikulski onto the Labor and Human Resources Committee in 1987, and years later she rose to become a powerful subcommittee chair. For part of the 107th Congress, for instance, Mikulski chaired the Labor Committee’s Subcommittee on Aging. Later, in the 110th and 111th Congresses, she chaired the HELP Subcommittee on Retirement and Aging. And in the 112th Congress (2011–2013), she chaired HELP’s Subcommittee on Children and Families.38

As a member of the Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence, Mikulski looked after the National Security Agency and various cyber commands which were (and remain) based in her home state of Maryland. Similarly, she advocated for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) which has its Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. She was a leading supporter of scientific inquiry and space exploration and led the f ight to fund major NASA initiatives as well as to double the funding for the National Science Foundation. Mikulski’s efforts were decisive in locating the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.39

“I believe in the space program,” she said on the Senate Floor in 2011. “I believe in space technology, in green science that helps us understand and protect the planet.… I believe in the men and women of the space program like the astronauts who risk their lives to extend our human reach in space, the astrophysicists who teach us about dark matter and the origins of the universe, and the machinists who craft the precision robots that explore the universe for us. The men and women of the space program are the best of the American economy, creating jobs for today and jobs for tomorrow.”40 In 2012 she received two honors: a new supernova discovered more than seven billion light-years away by the Hubble Space Telescope was named Supernova Mikulski; and the Space Telescope Science Institute named its archive the Barbara A. Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes.41

Health policy became one of Mikulski’s primary interests in the Senate. Appalled that nursing home care for an elderly spouse could bankrupt a family, she sponsored the 1988 Spousal Impoverishment Act, which allowed a husband or wife to retain financial assets if Medicaid paid for the other spouse’s nursing home costs. “She reacts very strongly to unfairness and inequity,” Senator Sarbanes said about Mikulski’s Medicaid work. “She gets hold of something and just stays with it in a very persistent and dedicated way.”42

Similarly, after the Republicans captured Congress in 1995, an effort by the William J. (Bill) Clinton administration to reform welfare stalled. Mikulski joined with Louisiana Senator John Berlinger Breaux in crafting a Democratic alternative that converted government aid into a “conditional entitlement.” To continue receiving benefits, recipients were required to find work or enter a job-training program, otherwise their benefits would begin to drop.43

On women’s health issues, she oversaw the creation of the Office of Research on Women’s Health at the National Institutes of Health in 1991 and helped double the NIH’s funding for women’s medical research. In 1996 she cosponsored the Women’s Health Equity Act with a bipartisan group of women Senators, drawing on her earlier work. The bill, she said, “builds on past successes. It brings resources and expertise to bear on the unmet health needs of American women. This bill sets an agenda. It’s where women’s health care needs to go as we enter the 21st century.” For Mikulski, it was about rooting out the cause of discrimination in America’s health care system. “We have to change outdated attitudes,” she said. “It’s not easy to reverse gender biases.”44 In her effort to expand access to health care and improve that care, Mikulski also backed the 2000 Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention Act.45

Mikulski was in the vanguard among legislators working to close gender gaps in American society and had a leading role in the Senate’s passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009.46 At the Democratic National Convention in August 2008, Mikulski had been prophetic: “It’s an absolute scandal that America’s women continue to earn just 77 cents for every dollar men earn. Tonight, you are going to hear from Lilly Ledbetter, who after years of dedicated service found out she had been paid less every day of her career. The Supreme Court said there wasn’t anything they could do about it. But there is something we can do about it. We can change the federal law book and put change in women’s checkbooks.”47

Over time, Mikulski gained the nickname “BAM” among Capitol Hill staff partly because of her initials, but also over a reputation for being an exacting Senator. Described by one Politico reporter as having a “gruff style,” Mikulski often “softens around the elevator operators, police officers and doorkeepers who keep the Capitol running,” many of whom lived in Maryland.48

At the beginning of 2011, six years before she retired, Mikulski became the longest-serving woman in Congress, breaking Massachusetts Representative Edith Nourse Rogers’s record of 35 years. “I didn’t just want to be a first,” Mikulski said. “I wanted to be the first of many.”49 To that effect, she created a unique mentorship program on the Hill. Mikulski had benefited early in her Senate career when colleagues including Kennedy, Sarbanes, and Byrd offered guidance and counsel. In 1995 she paid that advice forward, organizing a bimonthly bipartisan dinner for women Senators after Republicans had taken over the Senate majority. “It got very prickly,” Mikulski recalled about the Senate at the time. “Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and I talked over things, and we said there has to be a zone of civility.” Mikulski and the group instituted “three rules” for the dinners: “No staff, no memos, no leaks.”

“She’s a great mentor to all of us,” Republican Senator Olympia J. Snowe of Maine said about Mikulski. “She’s a powerhouse. She knows how to get things done.” Another Republican fondly recalled Mikulski’s leadership. “When I was first elected in 1993, I looked to Barbara as a friend and mentor, and I continue to value her wisdom and experience today,” Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas said. “I know all of the women who have come to serve in the Senate have greatly appreciated her guidance.” With every new Congress, women Senators gathered to have their picture taken. “We come together for friendship,” Mikulski said about the bipartisan dinners. “You can disagree without being disagreeable. You can still kick back and have a crab cake.”50

In March 2015 Mikulski announced that she would not run for re-election at the end of the 114th Congress (2015–2017). “I had to ask myself this question: Am I campaigning for me, or am I campaigning for my constituents?” More to the point, she asked: “Am I raising money or raising hell?”51 After retiring in January 2017, Mikulski became the Homewood Professor of Public Policy and advisor to the president at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.52


1Barbara Mikulski et al., Nine and Counting: The Women of the Senate (New York: William Morrow, 2000): 118; Seung Min Kim, “Props for Mikulski’s Long Career,” 21 March 2012, Politico, https://www.politico.com/story/2012/03/-props-for-mikulski-longest-serving-female-074320; Jean Marbella, “A Senate Milestone for Mikulski,” 5 January 2011, Baltimore Sun: A1.

2Marbella, “A Senate Milestone for Mikulski.”

3John B. O’Donnell Jr., “Mayor’s Route Choice Averts Harbor Span, Bypasses Rosemont,” 24 December 1968, Baltimore Sun: C16; “Expressway Opponents Vilify Officials,” 7 August 1969, Baltimore Sun: A10; Antero Pietila, “Southeast To Take On City Hall,” 24 February 1971, Baltimore Sun: C13; Carleton Jones, “Barbara, Trumpet of Highlandtown,” 17 April 1977, Baltimore Sun Magazine: 18; Tom Keyser, “Remembering 20 Years of Protest,” 18 April 1991, Baltimore Sun: E1. See also Matthew A. Crenson, Baltimore: A Political History (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017): 469; C. Fraser Smith, William Donald Schaefer: A Political Biography (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999): 54–55, 187. Quotation from Janelle Keidel, “Thousands Throng to Fells Point Fun Fest,” 6 October 1969, Baltimore Sun: C22.

4Barbara Mikulski, “Who Speaks for Ethnic America?,” 29 September 1970, New York Times: 43.

5“Mikulski, Barbara A(nn),” Current Biography, 1985 (New York: H.W. Wilson Company, 1985): 293; Jones, “Barbara, Trumpet of Highlandtown”; Fred Barbash, “Miss Mikulski Enters Race For Council,” 24 May 1971, Baltimore Sun: C16; “Council Candidates Stress Housing, Transport Woes,” 19 August 1971, Baltimore Sun: D6; Frederic B. Hill, “The First District: White, Ethnic, and Middle-Class,” 5 September 1971, Baltimore Sun: TS8; Frederic B. Hill, “Gears Slip on First’s Machine,” 17 September 1971, Baltimore Sun: C24; Frederic B. Hill, “Ethnic Americans: Best of Both,” 21 September 1971, Baltimore Sun: C6; Bentley Orrick, “Schaefer Ticket Wins Easily In Light Vote,” 3 November 1971, Baltimore Sun: A1; “Democratic Reformer: Barbara Ann Mikulski,” 22 September 1973, New York Times: A15; Crenson, Baltimore: 470.

6Current Biography, 1985: 293–294; “Democratic Reformer: Barbara Ann Mikulski.”

7Judy Bachrach, “Baltimore Speaks Carefully About Barbara Mikulski,” 9 December 1973, Washington Post: E1; Nelson W. Polsby, Consequences of Party Reform (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983): 250n13.

8Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives, “Election Statistics, 1920 to Present”; Karlyn Barker, “Mathias Is Elected to a Second Term,” 6 November 1974, Washington Post: A12.

9Ellen Hume, “Democrat Mikulski Leads with a Blend of Gusto, Humor and Feminism,” 15 August 1986, Wall Street Journal: 36.

10John M. Barry, The Ambition and the Power: A True Story of Washington (New York: Penguin Books, 1989): 24; John Aloysius Farrell, Tip O’Neill and the Democratic Century (Boston: Little, Brown, 2001): 411; John Jacobs, A Rage for Justice: The Passion and Politics of Phillip Burton (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995): 303.

11“Election Statistics, 1920 to Present.”

12Hume, “Democrat Mikulski Leads with a Blend of Gusto, Humor and Feminism.”

13Marbella, “A Senate Milestone for Mikulski.”

14Hume, “Democrat Mikulski Leads with a Blend of Gusto, Humor and Feminism.”

15Garrison Nelson, Committees in the U.S. Congress, 1947–1992, vol. 2 (Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press, 1994): 612–613, 1033–1035; Garrison Nelson and Charles Stewart III, Committees in the U.S. Congress, 1993–2010 (Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press, 2011): 850–851; Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives, “Women Members’ Committee Assignments (Standing, Joint, Select) in the U.S. House, 1917–Present.”

16Karen Hosler, “Mikulski Courts ‘Visceral’ Vote in Western Md,” 8 January 1986, Baltimore Sun: D6.

17Congressional Record, Index, 95th Cong., 1st sess. (1977): 1268; Congressional Record, Index, 95th Cong., 2nd sess. (1978): 1023; Congressional Record, Index, 96th Cong., 1st sess. (1979): 1198; Congressional Record, Index, 96th Cong., 2nd sess. (1980): 1079–1080; Congressional Record, Index, 98th Cong., 2nd sess. (1984): 1426; Congressional Record, Index, 99th Cong., 1st sess. (1985): 2277; Congressional Record, Index, 99th Cong., 2nd sess. (1986): 1716. Mikulski quotation from Sandra Sugawara, “Mikulski: A Trailblazer and Irritant,” 29 August 1986, Washington Post: A1.

18Politics in America, 1984 (Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Inc., 1983): 663–664.

19Sandra Sugawara, “Mikulski: Baltimore Scrapper Goes after Senate Seat,” 15 June 1986, Washington Post: C1.

20John Fritze, “Barbara Mikulski Calls for Return to Civility in Emotional Farewell Speech,” 8 December 2016, TCA Regional News.

21C. Fraser Smith, “Public Health Hospital Wins Staff-Cut Delay,” 21 June 1981, Baltimore Sun: B1.

22Perry Stein, “Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s Most Colorful Moments,” 2 March 2015, Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/local/wp/2015/03/02/sen-mikulskis-most-colorful-moments.

23Coleman McCarthy, “Stick-Shift Populist,” 5 April 1986, Washington Post: A23.

24Sugawara, “Mikulski: Baltimore Scrapper Goes after Senate Seat.”

25Paul West, “GOP Strategist Calls Mikulski ‘Odious,’” 15 March 1986, Baltimore Sun: 6A; Karen Hosler, “Mikulski Tops Political Rivals in Fund-Raising,” 16 April 1986, Baltimore Sun: 1E; Richard H.P. Sia, “Hutchison Quits Race, Cites Mikulski Strength,” 11 June 1986, Baltimore Sun: 1H.

26C. Fraser Smith, “Mikulski, Barnes Woo Labor in Race for U.S. Senate,” 8 October 1985, Baltimore Sun: 1A; C. Fraser Smith, “Schmoke Provides Lift—and Home—to Mikulski Effort,” 14 February 1986, Baltimore Sun: 1B; Karen Hosler, “Baltimore Unions Endorse Mikulski for Senate,” 22 April 1986, Baltimore Sun: 1D; “Mikulski Receives Backing From Black Groups, Officials,” 10 July 1986, Baltimore Sun: 2D; Rita Beamish, “In Campaign For U.S. Senate, E-M-I-L-Y Spells Money for Feminist Candidates,” 13 July 1986, Los Angeles Times: 10; Richard H. P. Sia, “Hughes Wages An Uneven Campaign for Senate,” 27 July 1986, Baltimore Sun: 1B.

27Karen Hosler, “Mikulski Defeats Hughes, Barnes Easily,” 10 September 1986, Baltimore Sun: 1A.

28Eileen Canzian, “Mikulski Runs a ‘High-Touch, High-Tech’ Race,” 1 September 1986, Baltimore Sun: 10.

29Hume, “Democrat Mikulski Leads with a Blend of Gusto, Humor and Feminism.”

30Hume, “Democrat Mikulski Leads with a Blend of Gusto, Humor and Feminism.”

31Marbella, “A Senate Milestone for Mikulski.”

32Susan Baer, “Mikulski Breaks the Glass Ceiling,” 6 March 1994, Baltimore Sun: 1A; John B. O’Donnell, “Mikulski Expected to Run for Senate Leadership Post,” 22 April 1994, Baltimore Sun: 3A.

33Politics in America, 1996 (Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Inc., 1995): 587; Donald T. Critchlow, “When Republicans Become Revolutionaries: Conservatives in Congress,” in On Capitol Hill: The Struggle to Reform Congress and Its Consequences, ed. Julian E. Zelizer (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004): 718; Lewis L. Gould, The Most Exclusive Club: A History of the Modern United States Senate (New York: Basic Books, 2005): 299.

34Nia-Malika Henderson, “Barbara Mikulski Made It Okay for Women to Wear Pants in the Senate,” 2 March 2015, The Fix (blog), Washington Post, https:// www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/03/02/barbara-mikulski-made-it-ok-for-women-to-wear-pants-in-the-senate/. In other versions of the story, Illinois Senator Carol Moseley-Braun accompanied Mikulski.

35David Michael Ettlin, “Mikulski Gets Choice Spot on Appropriations Panel,” 22 November 1986, Baltimore Sun: 7A.

36Marbella, “A Senate Milestone for Mikulski.”

37John Fritze, “Mikulski to Lead Senate Appropriations Committee,” 19 December 2012, Baltimore Sun, https://www.baltimoresun.com/maryland/ bs-md-mikulski-approps-20121219-story.html; U.S. Senate Historical Office, “Chairmen of Standing Committees (1789–Present),” https://www.senate. gov/artandhistory/history/resources/pdf/CommitteeChairs.pdf.

38Adam Clymer, Edward M. Kennedy: A Biography (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1999): 408, 534.

39Fritze, “Barbara Mikulski Calls for Return to Civility in Emotional Farewell Speech.”

40Congressional Record, Senate, 112th Cong., 1st sess. (26 May 2011): S3491.

41“Barbara Mikulski—Supernova,” 9 April 2012, Roll Call: n.p.

42Marbella, “A Senate Milestone for Mikulski.”

43Elizabeth Drew, Showdown: The Struggle between the Gingrich Congress and the Clinton White House (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996): 281.

44Women’s Health Equity Act of 1996, S. 1799, 104th Cong. (1996); Congressional Record, Senate, 104th Cong., 2nd sess. (23 May 1996): S5571.

45Fritze, “Barbara Mikulski Calls for Return to Civility in Emotional Farewell Speech.”

46Marbella, “A Senate Milestone for Mikulski”; Fritze, “Barbara Mikulski Calls for Return to Civility in Emotional Farewell Speech.”

47“2008 Democratic National Convention,” aired 26 August 2008, on C-SPAN, 01:56:51, https://www.c-span.org/video/?280557-1/2008- democratic-convention-day-2.

48Seung Min Kim, “How Mikulski Led the Way for Women in Congress,” 2 March 2015, Politico, https://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/barbara-mikulski-congress-retirement-115681.

49Marbella, “A Senate Milestone for Mikulski.”

50Marbella, “A Senate Milestone for Mikulski.”

51Dana Bash and Eric Bradner, “Barbara Mikulski, The Longest Serving Female Senator in History, to Retire,” 2 March 2015, CNN Wire Service.

52John Fritze, “Barbara Mikulski to Take Position at Johns Hopkins,” 14 January 2017, Maryland Gazette: B8.

View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

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External Research Collections

Johns Hopkins University
Special Collections

Baltimore, MD
Paper: Senatorial papers. Closed pending processing.

Harvard University
Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study

Cambridge, MA
Paper: In the Candidates for Public Office Campaign Materials, 1964-1986. 3 Videotapes, 1983-1984, in Videotape collection of the National Organization for Women, 1977-1988. 1 Audiotape, 1987, in the Audiotape collection of the National Women's Political Caucus, 1977-2000. Correspondence in Additional records of 9 to 5, National Association of Working Women (U.S.), 1972-1985. Correspondence and campaign records in Records of the National Women's Political Caucus, 1970-2006 and Records of the National Organization for Women, 1959-2002 (inclusive), 1966-1998 (bulk). Letter to the editor, 1987 in Letters to Ms., 1970-1998. 2 photographs in Papers of Elizabeth Holtzman, 1945-1981 (inclusive), 1972-1980 (bulk). Correspondence in the Papers of Betty Friedan, 1933-1985.
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Bibliography / Further Reading

Mikulski, Barbara, with Marylouis Oates. Capitol Offense (novel). New York: Dutton, 1996.

___. Capitol Venture: A Novel. New York: Dutton, 1997.

___, et al. Nine and Counting: The Women of the Senate. New York: Perennial, 2001.

"Barbara Mikulski," in Women in Congress, 1917-2006. Prepared under the direction of the Committee on House Administration by the Office of History & Preservation, U.S. House of Representatives. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2006.

U.S. Congress. Tributes Delivered in Congress: Barbara A. Mikulski, United States Congresswoman, 1977-1987, United States Senator, 1987-. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2012.

U.S. Congress. Tributes Delivered in Congress: Barbara A. Mikulski, United States Congressman, 1977-1987, United States Senator, 1987-2017. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2017.

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Committee Assignments

  • House Committee - Energy and Commerce
  • House Committee - Interstate and Foreign Commerce
  • House Committee - Merchant Marine and Fisheries
    • Oceanography - Chair
  • House Committee - Select Committee on Children, Youth, and Families
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