Soon after Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski announced Monday she wouldn't seek a sixth term in office, comment began rolling in from across the country.
President Barack Obama
"Senator Mikulski is more than just a legendary senator for the people of Maryland, she's an institution in the United States Senate. Barbara's service to the people of Maryland spans decades, but her legacy will span generations. Barbara is the longest serving woman in Congress, and her leadership serves as an inspiration to millions of women and girls across the globe to stand up and lead.
As the Chairwoman and now Vice Chairwoman of the Senate's Appropriations Committee, Barbara has always known that our budgets should reflect our deepest held values. In that spirit, Barbara has wielded her gavel and used her booming voice to advocate on behalf of paycheck fairness, childcare, health care, education, women's rights and countless issues that have contributed to the strength of America's families. Thanks to her leadership, more women excel in their careers, more children have access to quality education, more families have health insurance and more people are treated fairly under the law. I look forward to working with Senator Mikulski over the course of the next two years, and Michelle and I extend our warmest wishes to Barbara in her next endeavors."
Vice President Joe Biden
"It has been the honor of a lifetime to work alongside my friend Barbara Mikulski. I will always be proud to be able to tell my four granddaughters that I served with a Senator who changed the way we think about each other in this country.
"It was her leadership that brought the nation's attention to the need for shelters for victims of domestic violence, helping countless women escape the worst prison on earth – the four walls of their own home. She helped me pass the Violence Against Women Act in 1994, and she successfully fought for every reauthorization since.
"There's a lot of talk about what the women of America owe Barbara Milkulski, but the truth of the matter is the men of America owe her even more. Because she freed men of the stereotypical notions that they were raised to believe.
"When they saw the accomplishments of their daughters, when they saw their wives and their mothers take on new roles, when they saw the people they loved the most take on responsibilities that they had not seen before in their lives, it liberated them too.
"I am sorry to see her go, but there are still two years left. And two years of Barbara Mikulski is like six years of any other senator. Jill and I wish her all the best."
Gov. Larry Hogan
"For nearly 30 years, Barbara Mikulski has been a bold and dedicated public servant to Maryland. As the longest serving woman in the history of Congress, she is a trailblazer in the truest sense and will leave behind a proud legacy for those who will follow in her footsteps. The First Lady and I offer our most sincere congratulations on her historic career and look forward to continuing working together on our shared goals for the state and on the projects that will ensure our future remains strong."
Former Gov. Martin O'Malley
"Since I first worked on her 1986 Senate campaign, Senator Mikulski has been my friend and inspiration. We owe her a debt of gratitude: she has always fought for the working moms and dads of Maryland and the better future that all of us want for our kids. Leadership, effectiveness, and a framework for the future has been the tireless battle cry of her decades of service to all of us, to our state, and to our country. And as the longest-serving woman in congressional history and lifelong advocate for the voiceless, her career has set an example for young women everywhere.
"I am personally thankful for the Senator's support, trust, and friendship over the years. I am confident that she will continue to lead the fight for a better Maryland."
Sen. Ben Cardin
"Barbara Mikulski is family. Her retirement from the Senate is more than a loss of a colleague and team captain, but a loss of a close friend and mentor. She's going to leave an incredible void. I will miss her Baltimore gusto, her strong counsel and her populist insight. It has been a privilege to fight by Barbara Mikulski's side on behalf of the people of Maryland for the last eight years in the Senate and for 20 years before that while I was in the House of Representatives, trying to fill her shoes in the 3rd Congressional District. She knows Baltimore and all of Maryland like no one else. She has been a real powerful voice for our state.
"Senator Barb has been breaking barriers in Maryland and nationally since she first sought elected office. The longest serving woman in the history of Congress and the first woman elected to the Senate in her own right. She has left her indelible mark on our health care system, improving care and benefits for women, children and families. She's been on the front lines fighting to make gender equity reality, and she's made sure that every community across our country is safer today because of the potent homeland security programs and fire grants that she has created and championed. She's got two years left in the Senate and I know that she will use every moment to fight on behalf of working families and helping to spread opportunity to all Marylanders."
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
"A pioneer, a fierce competitor, and a Baltimorean to her very core, Senator Mikulski has proudly served Maryland and the nation as an outstanding senator and as a mentor to women like myself. Senator Mikulski repeatedly shattered glass ceilings and paved the way for new generations of women leaders. Thanks to her decades of service and her readiness to 'raise hell' for her constituents, today we all enjoy a stronger, more diverse country. On behalf of the City of Baltimore, I want to thank her for all she has done for us, and I wish my good friend and mentor the very best in retirement."
Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger
"It is fitting that Senator Mikulski announce her retirement as we begin Women's History Month – she has truly made history both by her extraordinary longevity and her tenacious leadership. Not only is she the longest-serving woman in the Senate and the first Democratic woman elected to the chamber in her own right, she is Maryland's Number One advocate.
Two things I know about Senator Mikulski have always impressed me in her public service. The first relates to her father's corner store on South Eden Street in Baltimore. When he opened his doors each day, he would say, 'How may I help you?' Senator Mikulski has lived by that mantra every day of her life for the people of the State of Maryland. She has worked tirelessly for critical resources to improve our roads, schools and police, to create jobs and create opportunities.
The other thing that impresses me is a favorite saying of hers: 'It's not about the building.' Senator Mikulski has never cared about the bricks and mortar. She cares about the people that work inside the building, what they do, how they help the citizens and how she can help them help others.
I am very proud to call Senator Mikulski my friend, starting from our days back in local government. I thank her for her service to the people of Maryland and wish her all the best in her retirement. Her successor has big shoes to fill."
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings
"Senator Barbara Mikulski is a giant in public service whose accomplishments speak for themselves. As the longest serving woman in the history of the Congress, she has set the standard for excellence that others may match but will never exceed.
"Throughout her career, Senator Mikulski has been a voice for the voiceless and has doggedly fought to ensure that all people – regardless of their backgrounds or circumstances – can have access to all the American Dream has to offer.
"I am deeply grateful for the leadership she has provided to our state's delegation and for her mentorship to me throughout the years.
"Senator Mikulski's presence will be sorely missed on Capitol Hill, but her legacy will most assuredly live on in the lives of everyone she has fought for over the course of her decades of service to our state and our nation."
Rep. Steny Hoyer
"For nearly four decades as a Member of the United States Congress, Barbara Mikulski has been Maryland's untiring fighter for justice and opportunity and a trailblazer for breaking down barriers. It has been my honor to serve alongside her in the House for six years and then to see her elected as Maryland's Senator in 1987, since then becoming the longest-serving woman in that body and in Congress as a whole.
"Throughout her years in office, she has drawn on her experience as a social worker and community activist in Baltimore to sponsor and advance legislation to ensure that the most vulnerable in our country are protected from poverty, hunger, and disease and that the opportunities inherent in the American Dream are open to as many of our people as possible.
"Senator Mikulski was the author of the Paycheck Fairness Act to help close the wage gap for women and has been a leading supporter of Child Care and Development Block Grants. As the senior member of the Maryland Congressional Delegation, Senator Mikulski has led our efforts to make sure that Maryland has the resources it needs to sustain strong communities, invest in public safety, and promote the growth of jobs for a growing middle class – and she made history for our state and our country when she became the first woman Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee in 2012.
"Senator Mikulski has spent her life in service to her city, her state, and her country, and her retirement will be a great loss to the Congress in which she has served with such distinction. I join in thanking her for her service and wishing her all the best for the future."
Rep. John Sarbanes
"Senator Barbara Mikulski has long been a political force in Maryland and on Capitol Hill. Breaking glass ceilings and fighting for working families, her career is nothing short of historic. I am among the many Marylanders who feel privileged to have benefited from her outstanding service. We wish her all the best in her well-deserved retirement."
Rep. John K. Delaney
"Senator Barbara Mikulski has been an incomparable leader for the issues that matter most to middle-class Americans, and for that, her state and her country owe her the deepest gratitude. A rare combination of intelligence, compassion and grit has made her a singular champion for issues impacting women, children, our environment and our beloved state of Maryland. We have been blessed to have her as our Senator.
"Senator Mikulski changed Washington, improved the lives of Marylanders and inspired an entire generation of women to pursue public office. For five decades she's been Maryland's voice in Washington, standing as a national leader of the highest acclaim and a tireless fighter for our state and our people. Senator Mikulski has also been a moral voice; she has been a champion for civil rights and equality. I join the rest of the state – from the mountains to Baltimore to the Eastern Shore - in thanking Senator Mikulski for an awe-inspiring lifetime of service."
Rep. Chris Van Hollen
"Barbara Mikulski has been a true champion for the people of Maryland. Her first career was as a social worker and a community organizer – and her dedication to fighting for working families and the underdog never once waivered when she came to the House and then the Senate. From kids' education and seniors' retirement security, to veterans who fought for our nation and first responders who keep our community safe, no one has been a more tenacious advocate than Barbara.
"Her leadership on behalf of working families in our State and across the country has not only been tireless, but historic. She was the first Democratic woman Senator elected in her own right and the longest serving woman Senator in U.S. history. From mentoring female Senators as the Dean of the Women to fighting hard to get the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act across the finish line, Barbara has never stopped working for equality.
"Barbara knew how to get people to work together, and brought regular order back to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Her primary goals have always been getting the best value for the taxpayer dollar and the best investment for our nation.
"She broke the mold as the leader of Team Maryland, and Maryland and America are stronger thanks to Barbara Mikulski."
Rep. Donna F. Edwards
"Senator Barbara Mikulski is a groundbreaking champion for the state of Maryland, an inspiration to women all across our country, and my mentor in the Congress. As the longest serving woman in the history of the Congress and the first duly elected on her own, she is one of Maryland's greatest leaders, and her legacy will echo for generations to come. I value our tremendous partnership on securing scientific funding critical to our state, creating an emergency preparedness initiative for our region centered at Prince George's County Hospital, and protecting women's rights and health in the landmark Affordable Care Act. I join all Marylanders and countless others around the country in thanking her for 30 years of service in the Senate and wish her all the best as she begins a new chapter in her life."
Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot
"Throughout her trailblazing career in public service, Barbara Mikulski has always been a fierce champion for Maryland's children, women and working families, and a powerful voice for Americans who otherwise would have been forgotten and left behind. Our state and our country are far better off today because of Senator Mikulski's leadership. I am grateful for the opportunity to know this extraordinary woman and to have worked with her throughout our years in elected office, and I know that she will continue to fight for those values to which she's dedicated her life."
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid
"I came to the Senate with Barbara Mikulski and I have had no better friend in my time here than Barbara Mikulski.
"Senator Barbara Mikulski's career has been devoted to serving others. As a social worker in Baltimore, she fought for at-risk children and to protect seniors from abuse. On the Baltimore City Council, and during her nearly 40 years of service in the United States Congress, she has fought for struggling Americans, demanded women be paid equal pay for equal work and led in the fight to protect the promise of Social Security and Medicare for seniors.
"Barbara Mikulski is a trailblazer – the first woman elected to the United States Senate from Maryland and the first woman to become Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. And as Dean of the women of the Senate, Barbara has been a mentor and friend to Senators on both sides of the aisle. Through her work, she has helped a generation of women leaders rise in the Senate.
"Barbara Mikulski's voice has boomed through the halls of the Congress and has helped guide our nation through some of our country's most trying times. I will always remember her strength on September 11th and the days that followed. As Members of Congress returned to the Capitol and met on the steps that terrible day, Senator Mikulski's voice rose above us all as she said, "We'll sing 'God Bless America.'" And we did. It was a poignant moment that I will never forget.
"I thank Barbara Mikulski for her many years of hard work and friendship. I look forward to continuing our work together as Barbara finishes out her term."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
"Senator Barbara Mikulski is one of the most forceful and effective legislators Congress has ever known – a woman who has always known her power and wielded it to improve the lives of others.
"Senator Mikulski's historic tenure is defined not only by its longevity, but by its leadership. She is a towering presence in the Congress, a tenacious champion for women and working families, and one of the most skilled appropriators the Senate has ever known. She rightly stands in the pantheon of American women recognized in the National Women's Hall of Fame, and we know her legacy will stand as an enduring inspiration to all of America's daughters.
"Senator Mikulski is a pioneer who has forged the path for the generations of women who came after her. Serving as the lone woman Democratic Senator in 1987, she exemplified bravery and boldness; in the years since, she been committed to ensuring that public service is open to the next generation of women.
"It has always been a point of personal pride to me that Senator Mikulski and I both grew up in Baltimore and attended the same Catholic, all-girls high school: the Institute of Notre Dame. Today, as she announces her retirement after such a long and storied career, I offer my sincerest congratulations for her accomplishments, and wish her all the best in the future. Long may her record stand."
Sen. Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California
"Senator Mikulski has never been satisfied just making history herself — she wanted to blaze a trail wide enough for all of us to follow. She has knocked down barriers one by one: the first woman ever elected to the Senate in her own right, the first woman to serve in both chambers, the longest serving woman in the Senate, the longest serving woman in Congress, the first woman to chair the Senate Appropriations Committee.
"I will never forget the encouragement she gave me when I first considered running for Senate. Every woman in the Senate has stories of Senator Mikulski reaching out to us, mentoring us and helping us along the way.
"The Senate used to be a lonely place for women, but Senator Mikulski changed that. For the women of the Senate, she will always be our Dean — the woman who opened up the doors of the Senate wide enough to let the women of America walk in.
"The people of Maryland have been lucky to have such a champion — a 4' 11'' fighter for the middle class, for women, for families, for seniors, for veterans. As Americans, we are all fortunate that we will have her in the Senate for the next two years, fighting for equal pay for equal work, for better child care, for jobs and for health care for all our families.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York
"It takes tremendous intelligence, strength and persistence to break glass ceilings and Barbara Mikulski has it all. The qualities that led her to break glass ceilings also made her one of the best legislators Congress has seen in a long time and we will miss her."
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut
"Barbara Mikulski is a force of nature. She battled the old political machines at a time when women were too often told to sit down and be quiet. Being at EMILY's List for her first election to the Senate will always be one of the highlights of my career. Whether it was equal pay, education, biomedical research, or securing a dignified retirement for our seniors, I am proud to have stood beside her for so many battles over the last 30 year.
"Personally, she has been one of my role models and mentors, as she has been for so many other women, particularly in the Senate. I am certain she will not spend the next 22 months toiling away quietly, but will continue to fight for working Maryland families and I look forward to seeing her take to the floor in passionate defense of those families.
"But today, we should take a moment to honor Senator Mikulski's great career. The United States Congress will not be the same without Senator Mikulski. I wish her all the best in the next phase of her life."
U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
"Senator Barbara Mikulski has dedicated a lifetime of service to the people of Baltimore, of Maryland and of the nation. Going back to her days as a community activist, she has been a tireless and unapologetic advocate for stronger schools, healthier seniors and more vibrant neighborhoods.
"For nearly four decades, she has brought a social worker's compassion and a seasoned legislator's know-how to her work on Capitol Hill. From education to women's health to veterans' issues to worker voice, she has made a powerful difference in the lives of millions of people.
"First elected at a time when there were only a handful of women in the House and Senate, Sen. Mikulski has also been a pioneer and glass ceiling breaker. No woman in American history has ever served longer in Congress, and no one has done more to ensure that women can be strong and effective representatives.
"Even in retirement, I am certain that Sen. Mikulski will continue to be outspoken in fighting for her deeply-held beliefs. It's been my privilege to work with her to move our state forward, and I wish her all the best in the next phase of her life."
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden
"Senator Mikulski has been a tireless champion for NASA, and has helped pave the way for future exploration and our journey to Mars. Her steadfast support for the Goddard Space Flight Center and its extraordinary science, including the Hubble Space Telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope and dozens of missions that are expanding our journey of discovery, will give current and future generations of Americans a better understanding of our world and our universe. Her candor, passion and vision will be greatly missed. She has inspired future generations to study science, technology, education and mathematics and helped ensure America's continued leadership in space. We salute her service to the American people."
Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels
"For more than four decades, Barbara Mikulski has worked with charisma, pragmatism and relentless resolve on causes that range from quality education to the future of the national space program. This city, this state and this country have all benefitted from her hard work and practical approach to complicated policy issues.
"Today, Maryland research institutions stand at the vanguard of their fields, in no small part because of Sen. Mikulski's unshakable belief in the importance of supporting education, discovery and innovation. The results of this critical support will continue to unfold in extraordinary ways for years after she leaves office.
Maryland Policy & Politics
"In a career that broke longstanding barriers, Sen. Mikulski never lost touch with her Baltimore roots or the people and institutions she represented in Congress. This state is lucky to have her as a forceful advocate on so many critical issues."
Chesapeake Bay Foundation President Will Baker
"It is hard to imagine how the Chesapeake Bay will survive without Sen. Mikulski. Just as her beloved oyster is a keystone species in the Bay's ecology, Sen Mikulski has been a political cornerstone of support for saving the Bay. She can take such satisfaction that after years of her determined effort, oysters are making an encouraging comeback.
"As important as oysters and other Bay life are to her, people matter even more. A healthy Bay means jobs for watermen, seafood processors, those involved with the sportfishing and tourism industries. It means peace of mind to parents and grand parents that their children's health will not be compromised by water contact. And it means revenue to Maryland as property values and tax reveues increase. The environment and the economy are but two sides of one coin. That ethic has motivated Sen Mikulski for 30 years.
"We can not thank Sen. Mikulski enough. The breadth of her support is legendary. She has been a passionate and steadfast advocate for the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, oyster recovery programs, agricultural funding for conservation practices, water and sewer infrastructure, Poplar Island restoration, research on oysters, crabs, and other Bay life. The list could go on. Sen. Barbara Mikulski has been a long-time friend of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and a champion of the Bay itself. I'm sure she will go out fighting for the Bay for the remainder of her term."
Dr. E. Albert Reece, vice president for medical affairs for the University of Maryland and dean of the school of medicine
"She's such an incredible, energetic, tireless senator. She's a real advocate for biomedical research and funding. She's devoted her entire career to discoveries, particularly in areas of women's health and mental illness, and she's been a leader in efforts to improve the health and well-being of citizens across the nation. On a personal level, she been a staunch supporter of the school of medicine, and I'm just indebted to her for her support. It shows what can be accomplished when you combine vision with relentless determination and passion. We'll miss her enormously."