(WASHINGTON) — On Thursday, the Senate will make history, swearing in a record-breaking 20 female senators — four Republicans and 16 Democrats — in office.
As the 113th Congress is sworn in Thursday on Capitol Hill, ABC’s World News anchor Diane Sawyer has an exclusive joint interview with the historic class of female senators.
“I can’t tell you the joy that I feel in my heart to look at these 20 gifted and talented women from two different parties, different zip codes to fill this room,” Sen. Barbara Mikulksi, D-Md., said while surrounded by the group of women senators. “In all of American history only 16 women had served. Now there are 20 of us.”
Senator-elect Deb Fischer, R-Neb., becomes on Thursday the first woman to be elected as a senator in Nebraska.
“It was an historic election,” Fischer said. “But what was really fun about it were the number of mothers and fathers who brought their daughters up to me during the campaign and said, ‘Can we get a picture? Can we get a picture?’ Because people realize it and — things do change, things do change.”
The female senators all agree that women will be getting things done in this new Congress — a sign of optimism felt for the new Congress, after the bruising battles of the 112th Congress.
“We’re in force and we’re in leadership positions, but it’s not just the position that we hold. I can tell you this is a can-do crowd,” Mikulski said of both Democratic and Republican senators in the room. “We are today ready to be a force in American politics.”
And while the number of women in the Senate on Thursday makes history, many of the women agreed that they want to keep fighting to boost those numbers. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said that women are still “underrepresented” in the Senate.
“I think that until we get to 50, we still have to fight because it’s still a problem,” Boxer said. “I think this class as you look around, Republicans and Democrats… I think that because of this new class and the caliber of the people coming and the quality of the people coming, I think that hopefully in my lifetime — and I really do hope and pray this is the case — we will see 50 percent.”
Catch Sawyer’s complete interview with the senators on World News Thursday at 6:30 p.m. ET.
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