Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Women Control All the Money

Congress has the power of the purse and it is being carried by four women. And while we're at it, the person who draws up the budget is also a woman. Here they are:

Five women from the Executive and Legislative Branches who control the budge and appropriations

From left to right they are Shalanda Young, who leads the Office of Management and Budget; Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee; Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee; Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee; and Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), chair of the House Appropriations Committee. This is the first time in history that all four top appropriators have been women. Young is not the first woman to lead OMB. That would be Alice Rivlin, who was appointed to the job by Bill Clinton in 1994. Sylvia Burwell also ran it during part of the Obama administration, so Young is the third woman in charge of preparing the draft federal budget.

All four of the congresswomen have stories about how they were disrespected by their male colleagues when they were first elected in the 1990s. Collins remembers that the first time she chaired a committee session, she was the only woman in the room. Murray remembers being once seated at the far end of a committee dais and being ignored while all the decisions were made by men in the middle. DeLauro remembers being challenged by a male member to explain how a tank engine being built in her district worked. Granger remembers when she was completely ignored by the men in the room. Now none of them can be ignored. They have all the actual power over how the government spends its money.

The four women are friends and, despite their political differences, expect to work closely together to put together spending bills they can all agree on. This will be especially difficult this year because the MAGA 20 want massive spending cuts that could never pass the Senate. Their antics will put Granger in the most difficult position because she knows it is her job to keep the government funded and running, while the MAGA 20 are trying to burn it down. Young may be able to help. She knows all four women very well from her time as director of the Democratic Appropriations Committee staff. When she had a baby in 2021, Granger and DeLauro threw a baby shower for her. Those personal relationships may come in handy with all the partisan battles over spending to be expected. Also of note is that Collins and Murray have a long history of working together in the Senate. If the four women in Congress were locked in Murray's spacious office with its dead-on view of the Washington Monument, and told they couldn't get out until they had decided how to spend the government's money, they would have a polite discussion and be out before dinner with a bill. But bills have to pass both chambers of Congress and there are partisans on both sides who are spoiling for a fight. Their ability to get the job done under these circumstances will be sorely tested. (V)

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