Civility in DC? Female Senators Show the Way

The 17 women of the chamber regularly gather for dinner
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 4, 2011 2:05 PM CST
Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), left, and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) are close friends, even though they are sometimes on opposite sides of an issue.   (AP Photo/Meet The Press, William B. Plowman)

(Newser) – As Washington continues to struggle with divisive political rhetoric, one group has been quietly making strides in the opposite direction: the 17 female senators. “We committed to maintaining a zone of civility here within the institution long before it became the chic thing to do,” says Barbara Mikulski, the longest-serving woman. Along with fellow Democrat Claire McCaskill, Mikulski organized a regular dinner group for the ladies of the Senate years ago, with just a few rules: "no staff, no memos, no leaks, and no men," Politico reports.

The women gather at restaurants or in private homes, and sometimes do other things together like see plays. “It’s a time when we can get together and talk. Say whatever," says Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. "Of course, we never talk about the male senators." That sense of camaraderie translates to their work, whether it's in a friendly "Hi there!" from a Republican to a Democrat in the hallway, or two senators being careful never to directly attack one another even when they disagree. Says Kay Bailey Hutchison, “We handle [conflict] just as friends would. We never let things become an issue where we have political arguments.”

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