100 Years of Women in Congress Actby Representative Grace Meng
Posted on 2016-04-18
MENG. Mr. Speaker, I am so pleased to be here today to celebrate
the 100th anniversary of women serving in Congress. Thank you for
allowing this legislation to come to the floor.
I also thank my friend and colleague, Representative Zinke, for offering this legislation with me. His support has been instrumental in ensuring the consideration of this bill, and I am deeply grateful to him.
A hundred years ago this November, the people of Montana elected Jeannette Rankin to the United States House of Representatives. She was the first woman elected to Congress and was elected before passage of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote.
Jeannette Rankin was a trailblazer her entire life. In 1902, she graduated from the University of Montana with a degree in biology.
Afterward, she would become active in the women's suffrage movement, moving to New York City and assisting in the founding of the New York Woman Suffrage Party and working for the National American Woman Suffrage Party.
She would return to Montana and was elected to office in the congressional election of 1916. Upon winning, she declared: ``I may be the first woman Member of Congress, but I won't be the last.'' I am happy to say she was right.
[[Page H1776]] In recognition of Congresswoman Jeannette Rankin's many accomplishments and in celebration of the centennial anniversary of her election to Congress, Representative Zinke and I introduced the 100 Years of Women in Congress Act.
Because Jeannette Rankin was a woman of science more than 100 years before our current push to have more women enter STEM fields, we felt it appropriate to rename the Department of Agriculture's Women and Minorities in STEM Fields Grant Program after her.
This program currently supports collaborative research projects at institutions of higher education, which seek to increase the participation of women and minorities from rural areas in STEM fields. It will continue to do so into the future, but now it will also recognize the many contributions Jeannette Rankin made to American life.
Mr. Speaker, thank you again for allowing this legislation to come to the floor today, and I thank Congressman Zinke for partnering with me on it.
I urge all of my colleagues to support this measure.