WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — Sen. Susan Collins has been in the U.S. Senate for 26 years. In 1997, when sworn in, she joined only eight other women in the Senate.
"There were not even a sufficient number of women to ensure that a woman served on each of the committees," Collins said.
Today, there are 25 women senators and 124 congresswomen, but beginning this session, four of those women are ranking members of the most powerful spending committees in Washington.
Texas Republican Kay Granger is the House Appropriations Committee chairwoman, and the ranking member is Connecticut Democrat Rosa DeLauro.
Down the hall, Washington Democrat Patty Murray is the Senate Appropriations Committee chairwoman and Collins is the ranking member.
"The appropriations committee is arguably the most powerful committee in the Senate, and to have two experienced women senators heading it I think is good for our country," Collins said.
Collins added she hopes to work on issues that affect Maine people, like Alzheimer's and diabetes.
She added when it comes to Alzheimer's, we need to focus on prevention and care for our caregivers. Collins also said she wants to work on strengthing our military, specifically our Navy, citing the work that Bath Iron Works and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard do every day.
"It's really important that we build up our fleet because those destroyers are really the workforce of our fleet," Collins said.
While there is no shortage of work to do, she said she's also excited.
"I am so looking forward to working with the other women who will be leading the appropriations committees in both the House and the Senate," Collins said.
Not only are there four women leading these committees, but the director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget is also a woman. Shalanda Young was confirmed by the Senate last year.