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In her farewell address to U.S. Senate colleagues, Kay Bailey Hutchison—the first Texas woman in the body—said, "It’s been a long and wonderful 19-plus years."
Hutchison, a Republican, added that while she’s leaving the 100-member body, she departs knowing that "January will see the greatest number of female senators in our nation’s history."
Is that right?
By email, Hutchison spokesman Tom Flanagin pointed out a Bloomberg News article posted online Nov. 7, 2012, opening: "Women will occupy a record number of U.S. Senate seats--one in five--in January, following victories in yesterday’s balloting."
The story says five women, four of them Democrats, won first terms in the Senate, the results meaning that when the new Congress convenes in January 2013, 20 members will be women. "Currently, 17 women--which had been the record--serve in the chamber," the story says, adding that Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Hutchison are retiring.
We harvested historical perspective from a Senate web page listing the 39 women who have served as senators since a 24-hour appointee, Rebecca Latimer Felton of Georgia, took the oath in November 1922.
Current female senators, in order of seniority with the most experienced first, are: Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.; Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; Patty Murray, D-Wash.; Hutchison; Snowe; Mary Landrieu, D-La; Susan Collins, R-Maine.; Deborah Stabenow, D-Mich.; Marie E. Cantwell, D-Wash.; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.; Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.; Kay Hagan, D-N.C.; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.
News accounts say the Senate's 2013 newcomers include Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; Deb Fischer, R-Neb.; Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.; Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.; and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii.
Footnote: Hutchison was among seven female senators on her initial swearing-in in June 1993, according to the Senate web page. Women have held more than 10 Senate seats since 2001, more than 15 since 2007.
We rate this valedictory claim as True.
News article, "Women Winning Senate Races Will Set Record in January," Bloomberg News, Nov. 7, 2012
Web page, "Women in the Senate," U.S. Senate (accessed Dec. 19, 2012)
News article, "Record number of women elected to U.S. Congress," Reuters, Nov. 7, 2012
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