U.S. Sen Barbara Mikulski of Maryland spoke at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, Sept. 5. Here is the full text of her remarks, as prepared for delivery:
Good evening, I'm Senator Barbara Mikulski from the great state of Maryland! Twenty-six years ago, I became the first Democratic woman elected to the Senate in her own right. I was the first, but I made sure I wasn't the only. Today, we're proud that there are more women serving in the United States Senate right this minute than had served in all of American history when I arrived. But we want more.
The women of the Senate are like the U.S. Olympic team: we come in different sizes, but we sure are united in our determination to do the best for our country! We've built families, businesses, and communities. We're Sunday school teachers and former governors, prosecutors and moms in tennis shoes. I was a social worker for Baltimore families. Now I'm a social worker building opportunities for families throughout America.
We work on macro issues and macaroni and cheese issues. When women are in the halls of power, our national debate reflects the needs and dreams of American families. Women leading means that Congress is working to create jobs, make quality child care more affordable and strengthen the middle class because we understand that America grows the economy and opportunity from the middle out, not the top down.
These are our priorities. These are President Barack Obama's priorities. We know that every issue is a women's issue. And equal pay for equal work is an American issue. The 77 cents that women make for every dollar men earn makes a real difference to our families--families stretching to make every dollar count.
We are so proud that the first law signed by President Barack Obama was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. That first bill was about America's first principles: equality, opportunity and prosperity. Republicans in the Senate blocked our efforts to go further and end pay discrimination once and for all. We, the women of the Senate, with President Obama by our side, will keep fighting--our shoulders square, our lipstick on--because you deserve equal pay for your hard work.
Nothing has done more to improve the day-to-day lives of America's women than health care reform. Before health care reform, women could be charged 50 percent more for their health insurance than men; in nine states, victims of domestic violence were denied coverage; mammograms and other cancer tests could strain the family budgets, so some women had to go without. Millions of American families knew they were just one medical catastrophe away from financial disaster.
We believe in family responsibility, not family bankruptcy. With health care reform, we are making gender discrimination by insurance companies illegal. We ensured life-saving preventive care and the full range of reproductive services are now covered. And because of President Obama's leadership, being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition!
We've done a lot to strengthen families and restore security to the middle class. Now we are ready to do more. And for that, we need reinforcements. Take a look at the women running this year who can help us and the president get the job done for you.