There are women in the Senate, and The New York Times is on it. According to Jonathan Weisman and Jennifer Steinhauer, three Republican senators have been leading negotiations to end the shutdown and reach a budget deal before Thursday's debt ceiling deadline. Why are they doing this? Estrogen, duh.
The Times reports:
In a Senate still dominated by men, women on both sides of the partisan divide proved to be the driving forces that shaped a negotiated settlement. The three Republican women put aside threats from the right to advance the interests of their shutdown-weary states and asserted their own political independence.
These Republican senators — Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire — are women, yes. They came together with two Democratic female senators and seven male senators from both sides of the aisle to broker this week's Senate budget deal (which the House GOP did not approve). MSNBC ran a piece last week celebrating the same Republican women willing to negotiate. Suzy Khimm and Jennifer Taylor report:
They've kept at [shutdown/debt ceiling negotiations] just as they have on other big issues — from military sexual assault to mental health and the farm bill. Would Washington be a different place if the tactics of women senators, who make up just 20 percent of the Senate, were the norm?
Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell certainly believes it would. “If it were up to the women, this would be over already,” she said. “There’s still a lot of testosterone going around.”
To boil down the current crisis in Congress to too much testosterone is a pretty essentialist way to look at things. Ego is clearly a problem for lawmakers, but not one that's limited to men. To say women make better negotiators, better "team players" — that's letting the guys off the hook.
Plenty of Republicans of both genders have been willing to compromise to reopen the government. House Speaker John Boehner has prevented a vote on a clean funding bill because it would probably pass with Democratic votes. These women in the Senate are willing to negotiate because their constituents want an end to the shutdown — as Andrew Exum at the Center for a New American Security points out, two of the three Republican women negotiators come from fairly Democratic New England states.
There should be more women in Congress. But not because they are somehow biologically more willing to compromise or "used to balancing family budgets and dealing with children that are bullies and misbehave,” as Sen. Debbie Stabenow tells MSNBC. Congress should simply be representative of constituents (who, by the way, really don't like this shutdown).