Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 17

PARTISANSHIP & SENIORITY
At first it may be hard to pinpoint any tangible effects of more women serving
in Congress. After all, it's an institution that runs along partisan lines first and
by seniority second. Studies show that women are no more likely than men
to cross party lines, and legislative behavior is based more on party alliance
than gender.
"Partisanship trumps gender all the time," says Jennifer Lawless, a professor of
politics at the University of Virginia. "When it comes to the votes that members
of Congress cast, the amendments they introduce, [and] the procedural mechanisms they support, whether they have a 'D' or an 'R' after their name tells us all
we need to know."
Along with coauthors Sean Theriault and Samantha Guthrie, Lawless specifically
examined if there was a gender gap in Congress when it comes to collaboration. The conclusion? "The way Congress works is driven almost entirely by
partisan imperative and strategic incentives," says Lawless. "Ultimately, those
two factors guide decision making." In "Nice Girls? Sex, Collegiality, and
Bipartisan Cooperation in the U.S. Congress," which was published in the
Journal of Politics in October 2018, Lawless and others wrote that while women
do tend to be more cooperative in general, they react much the way their male
counterparts do when it comes to politics.
Anecdotes abound of collegial behavior by Democratic and Republican women
in Congress, however. Mostly those stories reflect the reality that many women
lawmakers, especially in the Senate, tend to be moderates. For example,
Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska as well as
Democrats Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota
have reputations for seeking collaborative solutions and sometimes bucking
their leadership to secure a hard-fought compromise. (McCaskill and Heitkamp
lost their reelection bids in 2018.)
"I think we've seen [that] the few Republican women on the Hill tend to be
the ones who are more willing to work across the aisle, negotiate, and stand
up for priorities for their constituents," says Meghan Milloy, a co-founder of
RWFP. "The more women we have like them, the less likely we are to have
30-day shutdowns."
That doesn't mean incremental changes aren't already happening. In the
January confirmation hearing for U.S. Attorney General nominee William Barr,
newly appointed Senate Judiciary Committee member Joni Ernst questioned
Barr about his opinions on the Violence Against Women Act - a sign that the
presence of women on committees is already changing the conversation in
the room, observers say.
Meanwhile, new members' first collisions with seniority came early as
committee assignments were made in January. Each party appoints its
own members to committees, and the freshmen members began pressing
leadership soon after the elections for prime assignments - ones not often
open to new members. They have a mixed record of success.
While new members didn't crack committees like the House Ways and Means
or the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, they did find footholds
on other prominent panels. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York
Democrat and social media star, won a seat on the influential House Financial
Services Committee, and Texas Democrats Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia
snagged prized seats on the House Judiciary Committee, which will play
a critical role if potential impeachment proceedings go forward against
President Trump.
"Many of the women in the freshmen cohort have high profiles, and that puts
them in a position to punch above their weight," says Emily Martin, vice president for education and workplace justice at the National Women's Law Center,

which promotes equality for women and families. "It allows them to
ensure their voices are part of the conversation and to help set the agenda
in this country."

BIG CHANGES AFOOT
Gaining influence in a tradition-bound institution is difficult, but studies show
women lawmakers are more likely than men to secure spending for their districts.
Minority women are better able to keep their bills alive in the complex legislative
process than men. Women policymakers also are more sensitive to race, class, and
ethnicity concerns in the law due to the diversity of their ranks.
Experts suggest that female representation will result in changes in the way
committee leadership is exercised, in the types and amount of public policy
conversations, in who gets to testify before congressional committees, and in
the hiring for key staff positions.
Studies also show that women in Congress are more likely to value congeniality
and congressional "school" spirit than their male colleagues, and that they are
more likely to participate in social engagements and other activities designed
to provide the social glue for Congress.
"These kinds of activities don't translate into different votes on bills, but they do
make Congress a better place to work," says Lawless, noting that partisan rules
often interfere with building friendships that translate into vote trading. "We
could argue that the civility they generate is in itself important, even if it doesn't
necessarily change the legislative process."
But women don't move in lockstep, even within the parties. This freshman class
in the House has already garnered a reputation for speaking up and standing
out. "Some of the new Democratic members are more willing to call out
Republicans and Democrats alike to move policy in a much more progressive
direction," says Gholar.
Yet for every Ocasio-Cortez, there is an Abigail Spanberger, a moderate
Democrat from Northern Virginia who is facing a tough run for Congress
in 2020. She even visited the White House in early January with a group of
moderate Democrats who sought some common ground with the president.
Ultimately, female activists believe that the sheer number of women members
in both chambers will change the political and policy calculations. Numbers
matter, and they ensure that being a woman is not the primary factor colleagues respond to in committee hearings or on the House or Senate floor.
"Once you get to a critical mass of women in an institution, it makes a difference
in how women are heard and how the institution functions," says Martin. "There
are fewer rooms where there is a single woman as a token representing all
women. Women can't be easily dismissed or seen literally as an outlier anymore."

A REALITY CHECK
Nothing in Washington happens in a vacuum, of course. Most members of
Congress spent time in the "farm leagues" of state legislatures and statewide
elected office before making it to the national stage. These state positions,
which often come with enormous clout, have always been viewed as good
training grounds for Congress.
Nine women - six Democrats and three Republicans - are serving as
governors in 2019, topping the record number of six women governors
in 2004 and 2007, according to the CAWP. Seventy-seven women -
40 Democrats, 35 Republicans, and 2 nonpartisans - are serving in other
statewide elected offices, such as attorney general and secretary of state.
A total of 2,112 women - 1,433 Democrats, 658 Republicans, 13 nonpartisans,
4 independents, and 4 progressives - are in state legislatures, holding some
(continued on page 39)

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MARCH 2019

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WASHINGTON LAWYER

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Washington Lawyer - March 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - March 2019

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar of Events
Government & Gavel
The Women's Wave & Its Effects on Politics
Features: #Me Too & A Time Of Reckoning for the Law
Feature: Righting The Gender Imbalance In Big Law
Feature: A Day in The Life of Two Women Lawyers
Global & Domestic Outlook
Worth Reading
Media Bytes
Attorney Briefs
Ask The Ethics Experts
Disciplinary Summaries
The Pro Bono Efect
Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 1
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 2
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 3
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 7
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 9
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 11
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Government & Gavel
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 13
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - The Women's Wave & Its Effects on Politics
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 15
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 16
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 17
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Features: #Me Too & A Time Of Reckoning for the Law
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 19
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 20
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 21
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Feature: Righting The Gender Imbalance In Big Law
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 23
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 24
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 25
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Feature: A Day in The Life of Two Women Lawyers
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 27
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 28
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 29
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 30
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 31
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 32
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 33
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 35
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Media Bytes
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Ask The Ethics Experts
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 41
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 42
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 43
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - The Pro Bono Efect
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 45
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 47
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - 48
Washington Lawyer - March 2019 - Cover3
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