Out of 540 U.S. Capitol rooms, two now are named for feminine senators. One among them is Maryland’s Barbara Mikulski. – Baltimore Solar

WASHINGTON — Barbara Mikulski, the Baltimorean who’s the longest-serving lady in U.S. Senate historical past, assured Senate and House leaders on Wednesday that she hasn’t forgotten about them.

“I’m a C-SPAN junkie now. I want you to know I have my eye on you,” mentioned Mikulski, 85, who retired from the Senate in 2017, at an occasion in her honor that includes Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Maryland Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen.

The congressional leaders assured Mikulski they haven’t forgotten about her both. Quite the alternative, because the objective of Wednesday’s gathering was to call a room within the U.S. Capitol after the diminutive former lawmaker.

Another room was named for the late Margaret Chase Smith, a Maine Republican who was the primary lady to serve in each the House and Senate.

Together, they’re the primary two rooms within the U.S. Capitol named for ladies who served within the Senate.

“I am very grateful to have a room of my own in the United States Senate and I’m going to share it with all of you, and the American people,” Mikulski mentioned on the gathering, which additionally included former Mikulski employees members and a lot of senators and representatives she lengthy served with.

The Mikulski room, S-115, is on the primary flooring of the Senate facet of the Capitol. It has gold partitions, a excessive ceiling and ornate chandelier. It is embellished with such memorabilia as a Wheaties cereal field bearing her {photograph}, and an image of her receiving the 2016 Presidential Medal of Freedom from then-president Barack Obama.

The room could also be small, however it’s well-positioned close to essential assembly rooms — identical to the blunt-speaking, 4-foot-11 former social employee so typically was. She was the primary lady to chair the Senate Appropriations Committee.

She additionally broke limitations as the primary Democratic lady elected to the Senate in her personal proper — that’s, with out following a male family member into workplace.

Mikulski regaled the lawmakers with tales. She advised of arriving within the Senate in 1987 to seek out no ladies’s restrooms off the Senate chamber flooring, and podiums across the Capitol “built for guys who are 6-foot-2.”

The podium she used on Wednesday was Mikulski-sized.

“I have a podium of my own,” she mentioned, briefly resting her head on it.

Mikulski served within the Senate from 1987 to 2017. She served 5 phrases within the House earlier than that. No lady has served in Congress longer, mentioned Senate leaders on the dedication.

“Barbara, goodness what a remarkable career you had,” McConnell, the Kentucky Republican, advised her on the ceremony.

Mikulski can be Maryland’s longest-serving senator. When Van Hollen succeeded her, Mikulski, a Star Wars fan, offered him with a lightweight saber.

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Mikulski closed her remarks with: “May the force be with you.”

The laws to call the rooms was led by Democratic Sens. Roy Blunt of Missouri and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. They head the Committee on Rules and Administration, which has jurisdiction over inner administration of the Senate.

Klobuchar additionally promoted the measure as a result of she needed the Capitol to higher symbolize ladies’s contributions, in line with an aide.

After retiring from Congress in 2017, Mikulski started educating public coverage on the Johns Hopkins University.

In 2020, the Enoch Pratt Free Library opened a “Mikulski Room” that includes mementos and her Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Born in 1936 to Polish-American grocers, Mikulski started attracting consideration when she received a seat in 1971 on the Baltimore City Council, the place colleagues say she appropriated the brass spittoon that got here along with her desk — one other relic of the outdated boys’ community — and used it to plant a geranium.

When then-Rep. Paul Sarbanes moved to the Senate in 1976, Mikulski received the election for his House seat. A decade later, when Republican Sen. Charles McC. Mathias retired, she beat Republican Linda Chavez to start her Senate profession.

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