Why not me?

Communications • April 5, 2017

100 years ago, Jeannette Rankin shattered a glass ceiling by asking one simple question: “Why not me?”

For a century, women in Congress have been breaking down barriers, marking several firsts in their states — and in the country.

Led by Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN), the co-chair of the Congressional Women’s Caucus, a bipartisan group of women took to the House floor this afternoon to celebrate this milestone and reflect on how far we’ve come as leaders. Click here to view the Special Order in its entirety.

As Brooks said, “Because of Rankin’s groundbreaking achievement 100 years ago, hundreds of women from across the country have made history in Congress, drawing attention to the pressing issues of their time and creating policies that have impacted generations of Americans.”

Here’s what House Republican women had to say about this milestone:

House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA): This is a celebration of the American spirit

“…this centennial, this milestone, is so much bigger than Congress. It’s not a date on the calendar – it’s a celebration of the American spirit. …I want my daughters to know that not only should they take a seat at the table – but that there is a seat reserved for them. I want them to know that when they speak, the world should listen. That when they act; it is with purpose. And that when they lead, they can change the world. After 100 years, we stand on the shoulder of giants — but we stand there to lift the next generation higher than ourselves. We stand there so that every woman has a voice, and has an opportunity to be legendary, and so that women can keep making history for years to come.”

Budget Committee Chair Diane Black (R-TN): Stories like ours shouldn’t be unique

I spent the first years of my life in public housing…I was prepared to live a life of unfilled potential. I started to believe…that maybe the American Dream wasn’t for me. But in time, doors of opportunity were opened that helped me realize a plan for my life that was greater than I could ever imagine. …I have traveled far corners of the world and have seen the struggle that women endure for access to education, a paycheck, and for real independence. And I’m keenly aware that only here in this country is my story even possible. Only here could someone like me go from living in the halls of public housing to serving in the halls of the United States Capitol. …As we celebrate 100 years of women in Congress, we must resolve that stories like ours are not unique. The work we have done here in Congress must reach today’s young women with the truth that they have God-given talents waiting to be used, and that the American Dream is theirs to share as well.”

Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA): Let’s continue to expand opportunities for women everywhere

“A century after Jeanette Rankin was sworn in, it is not enough to recognize the significant contributions, but we must also look to the future. We have made significant strides in this country, but more is needed. Women represent 50 percent of the population, yet we still face obstacles in the workplace, academics, and elsewhere. We must work together to expand opportunities, remove barriers, and empower the next generation of women. …As we strive to make our country stronger for the next generation, we must continue to fight so each woman has an equal opportunity to compete and to excel based on her abilities and accomplishments.”

Del. Amata Radweagen (R-American Samoa): Rankin’s legacy lives on in all of us

“As the first woman to represent American Samoa, I could not be more honored and humbled to be here today to salute this great woman who paved the way for each and every one of us serving in Congress today. …she stood by her beliefs and could not be swayed, an example for all of us. While Congresswoman Rankin served only two terms in Congress, her legacy lives on in all of the women who served and those who will in the future.”