Evan Vucci, Associated Press
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, center, talks with, from left, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Sen.. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., Collins, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R- Alaska, and Sen. John McCain, R- Ariz., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Oct. 11, 2013.

Female senators are earning kudos for their role in helping negotiate an end to the government shutdown.

"Women Are the Only Adults Left in Washington," trumpeted a Time magazine article, while New York Times coverage ran under the headline, "Senate Women Lead in Effort to Find Accord."

Wrote Time's Jay Newton-Small: "At one of the darkest moments of the government shutdown, with markets dipping and both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue hurling icy recriminations, Maine Republican Susan Collins went to the Senate floor to do two things that none of her colleagues had yet attempted. She refrained from partisan blame and proposed a plan to end the crisis. 'I ask my Democratic and Republican colleagues to come together,' Collins said on Oct. 8. 'We can do it. We can legislate responsibly and in good faith.’ ”

She was soon joined, he said, by Senate Appropriations Committee chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski.

That wasn't a spontaneous gesture on Collins' part, according to the Time magazine piece, as most of the Senate's 20 women met the night before in the office of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. "All the buzz that night was about Collins’ plan to reopen the government with some basic compromises. Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, proposed adding the repeal of the unpopular medical-­device tax. Senate Agriculture Committee chair Debbie Stabenow suggested pulling revenue from her stalled farm bill. In policy terms, it was a potluck dinner," Newton-Small wrote.

The New York Times presented the background this way:

"Frustrated with the lack of progress, Ms. Collins, a Republican, two Saturdays ago quickly zipped out a three-point plan that she thought both parties could live with, marched to the Senate floor and dared her colleagues to come up with something better. A few days later, two other Republican female senators eagerly signed on — Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who overcame the Tea Party to win re-election in 2010, and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, who benefited from the Tea Party wave.

"It's a good outcome," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., part of the 14-member bipartisan group of senators who came together to craft the compromise, told USA Today. "Leadership, I must fully admit, was provided primarily by women in the Senate."

Wrote USA Today's Catalina Camia: "The male Senate leaders may have tied the bow on a deal aimed at ending the government shutdown, but credit for shaping the package is being given to a group of women, led by Sen. Susan Collins of Maine."

Both parties gave the women's efforts credit for helping craft the compromise. "She deserves a lot of credit for getting us together and moving the ball down the field," said Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., of Collins, in an interview with USA Today.

Noted Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., on MSNBC, quoted by the Huffington Post, “The 20 women in the Senate have formed such strong friendships of trust, even though we come from different places, that I’m very hopeful as we go forward with Patty Murray, head of the Budget Committee, Barbara Mikulski, head of Appropriations,” Klobuchar said. “Those relationships are going to make a difference as we get into what matters, which is the long-term budget.”

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