Barbara Mikulski: From Girl Scout to Senator, 7 Things You Might Not Know About the Retiring Senator

PHOTO: Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) accuses Republican Senate leaders of manufacturing the possible shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol, Feb. 24, 2015 in Washington.PlayChip Somodevilla/Getty Images
WATCH Sen. Mikulski: 'Hard Decision' to Not Seek Re-Election

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Maryland, the longest-serving woman in Congressional history, announced today that she will retire.

Mikulski, who was first elected to the Senate in 1986, said she made the decision to fight for the people of Maryland instead of campaigning for herself another time around.

"I'm gonna be around. I'm Senator Barb,” Mikulski said at a news conference in Baltimore. “I don’t want to spend my time campaigning for me. I want to campaign for the people.”

Here’s a look at some of the things you might not know about the storied career of the senator known to many as “Senator Barb”:


As the longest serving female senator, Mikulski is known as the dean of the women senators. She often organizes bipartisan gatherings for the female senators and acts as a mentor for them.

In January, she hosted a meet and greet for the two new female senators -- Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia.


Mikulski is a proud Girl Scout and often celebrates the group’s anniversary with speeches on the Senate floor.

"If you noticed I'm dressed in green today, and I also have on a Girl Scout pin. Don't I look like a little Girl Scout standing here?” Mikulski said last year as she celebrated the 102nd anniversary of the group. “I feel like a Girl Scout because I was a Girl Scout, and once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout!”

"I believe the values I learned as a Girl Scout were the lessons of a lifetime. And quite frankly, if I can live up to the Girl Scout law today, I think I'll be a pretty good Senator,” she said. “So hats off to Girl Scouts everywhere, a big thanks to the leaders who do it, and let's eat those cookies—even if you're on a different kind of program than they're often called for!"


Mikulski started her career as a social worker, helping at risk children and seniors in Baltimore. Her foray into activism came when she campaigned against plans to build a highway through two Baltimore communities.

She started in politics with a seat on the Baltimore City Council. She then served in the House of Representatives for ten years before become a senator in 1986.


Mikulski was the first woman to chair the Senate Appropriations committee, the powerful committee responsible for funding government agencies and departments. She chaired the committee from 2012 until this January when Republicans won control of the Senate.


Mikulski has long been a champion for equal rights, specifically when it comes for equal pay for women. She has introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act to try to put an end to disparity between women and men.


Mikulski cites crab cakes as her ideal meal and has a killer recipe handed down from her mother. But don’t worry -- it’s not a family secret. Mikulski spreads the crab cake love and has posted the recipe on her website.

"When I’m not eating delicious crab cakes, I follow what I call a heart healthy diet, which isn’t always easy,” she wrote on her website. “I like parsley, but I like pizza better.”


Mikulski is quite small compared to some of her Senate colleagues at 4 feet and 11 inches tall. She reportedly once described herself as a “little stealth rocket, a heat-seeking missile, under everybody's radar."

Though small in stature, she is well known as one of the most feisty lawmakers on Capitol Hill.