Women make big gains in Congress after election

Women make big gains in Congress after election

It was a big win for women in Tuesday's election. And it was record-breaking.

For the first time there are now 20 U.S. senators who are women. And in southwest Washington, voters re-elected Jaime Herrera Beutler to join a record-setting class of women in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The day before the election was the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote in Oregon and going from voting booth to elected office didn't happen overnight.

Elizabeth Furse knows firsthand how things have changed since her time in Congress serving Oregon's 1st District from 1993 to 1999. At that time there was just one other woman in Congress, and she served in the Senate.

Furse served in Congress because she thought she could make a difference and because she was different from most of her fellow members.

"When I went to the Congress, in 1992 I was elected, they called it the year of the woman. We doubled the number of women," Furse said Wednesday.

After Tuesday's election, Furse celebrated not for women, but for what she believes women can do for the country.

"It's not that I think women make better decisions," she said. "What I believe is you can't get good decisions unless everyone is at the table. You can't have half of the population somewhere else when you’re making decisions."

She said last night's wins are not about a numbers game, but it's about the number other future candidates the women will inspire.

"What a wonderful job. That is a fabulous job," Furse said about her time in Congress. "I don't want to be sentimental about this but to actually represent the people you come from, the area you come from, what an honor. What an honor it is."

Furse has always believed a woman deserves your vote but now a country of voters is telling little girls they believe that too.

"It's so important to say: this is open to everyone. That is huge," she said. "Think of the little girls who will think, 'Oh, my goodness, I can be whatever.' It's lovely, and it will just get better."

Washington is one of two states, the other is California, with both Senate seats filled by women. After Tuesday's election, New Hampshire will not only have two female senators but its entire congressional delegation, U.S. representatives too, will be female.