U.S. NewsUS HistoryWomen's History Month


After 41 years in Congress, Rep. Marcy Kaptur isn't done yet

The Ohio representative's decades-long tenure makes her the longest-serving woman in Congress in history.
Rep. Marcy Kaptur
Posted at 9:28 AM, Mar 15, 2024

March is Women's History Month, and Washington, D.C., is a place where women have been fighting to level the playing field for decades.

Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio is one of those trailblazing women. She was first sworn in as a member of the House of Representatives in 1983, and she's been in Congress ever since. Her decades-long tenure makes her the longest-serving woman in Congress in history.

When she first got to Capitol Hill, there were just 24 female members in the House and Senate.

"There were people here that welcomed us, and they made me feel part of the fold here in Congress," Kaptur said. "I feel very blessed to have been part of a generation that was able to allow women and men to access and to move forward in whatever field or way of life they choose."

She's seen a lot of change since then and picked up a lot of experience. But one thing that surprised her about being a politician was how long it takes to get things done.

"The creation of the World War II Memorial here, representing the most important achievement of the 20th century, the victory of liberty over tyranny in the last century — it took us 16 years. As a younger member, I couldn't believe it took Congress that long to do something the American people wanted," Kaptur said.

Kaptur is running for reelection in 2024. She believes her know-how can help solve some of the many items still on her to-do list.

"I have a whole laundry list of unfinished business. I want to create the best training for mechanics and technicians in this nation. ... Workforce development is an area that we need so much more attention to ... We have to refinance Social Security for the next generation," Kaptur explained. "These are weighty problems. These are the big ones, power, water, industry, agriculture, and making sure that it's modern, and that our people have the educational capacity to meet the future."

Today, women make up just over 50% of the American population, but only about 28% of Congress. Kaptur says any woman considering jumping into politics should have deep knowledge of her district.

"This is not a popularity contest, not if you're really going to do something for the country. Bring a set of skills and interests and know something about them. ... Because you will find yourself engaged in problems that to date have no solution. And you're going to have to cobble together the answer for that," she said.

Kaptur recognizes that tackling big issues, like climate change and Social Security, isn't an easy task, but she believes building a better nation, and a better world, is something that can only happen when people work together.