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The 10 Most Compelling Women in Washington Now

  • Mar 16, 2016



By dint of their brilliance, brains, and guts, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the nine women that make up our annual Women in D.C. package make Washington work. This article originally appears in the April 2016 issue of ELLE.  The following is an excerpt from the Elle article: 

Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Chair, House Republican Conference

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By 2010, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, U.S. representative from Washington's Fifth District and the highest-ranking Republican woman in the House, had given birth to two children while serving in Congress—making history for the institution. A favorite of conservatives, she was on many people's short list as a Romney running mate in 2012, but when she had her third child, a girl, in 2013, "I'm told that I was put on a list immediately over at our campaign committee, that I was gonna be retiring." The idea of leaving her job hadn't once crossed her mind, however. (She's fortunate, she says, that her husband, retired navy commander Brian Rodgers, is a "superdad," holding down the fort at home.)

When her daughter was only nine weeks old, McMorris Rodgers gave the Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union—an honor typically bestowed to party stars and possible presidential candidates—and delivered a widely praised performance (no nervous water guzzling for her). She has been a champion for the rights of the disabled—her only son has Down syndrome—and says her current dream is to see the 21st Century Cures Act, already passed in the House, get through the Senate. The package, for which she authored six bills, would increase funding for the National Institutes of Health and speed approval of new drugs and medical devices.

The descendant of a pioneer woman who "headed out West with two-year-old twins in a wagon," McMorris Rodgers spends time recruiting other Republican women to take the leap and run for office in the U.S.—and after a trip to Afghanistan, she helped organize a congressional task force to train women to serve in government there, too. "We know how powerful mentoring is in our lives," she says, "and we wanted to do it for the women of Afghanistan."





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