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Who are the Four Corners? History-making women now in charge of $1.7 trillion in federal spending

This is the first time that four leaders of the two congressional spending committees are women
UPDATED JAN 30, 2023
Rep Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Sen Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen Patty Murray (D-WA), and Rep Kay Granger (R-TX) will hold the top spots on the Senate and House Appropriations committees (L-R) (CNN/video screenshot)
Rep Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Sen Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen Patty Murray (D-WA), and Rep Kay Granger (R-TX) will hold the top spots on the Senate and House Appropriations committees (L-R) (CNN/video screenshot)

A powerful group of women known as the ‘Four Corners’, which includes Sen Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen Patty Murray (D-WA), Rep Kay Granger (R-TX), Rep Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), will now hold the top positions on the Senate and House Appropriations committees. And this is the first time that four leaders of the two congressional spending committees are women, who are now in charge of $1.7 trillion in federal spending.

Talking to CNN Capitol Hill reporter Melanie Zanona on Sunday, January 29, the group recalled how when they were first elected in the 1990s, they were often overlooked. Sharing the details, Murray, 72, explained that her Senate class was known as the 'Year of the Woman' and there were only six female senators following her election in 1992. However, there was apprehension among men whenever she was in the room, described Murray. But now, they are among the most powerful women in Congress. They oversee an annual federal budget of roughly $1.7 trillion and are responsible for creating policies that affect nearly every corner of the nation.


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Joined by Shalanda Young, the first Black woman to lead the Office of Management and Budget and a former House aide, Granger, 80, said, "It is a very special time that we’re working together. We’ve all worked together on different things. But this is a difference. I think it’s going to be very important for young women to see us do this.” Granger made history in 2019 with then-Rep Nita Lowey, a New York Democrat, when they both headed the House Appropriations Committee. It was the first time, two female lawmakers oversaw the House Select Committee on the Beauty Shop, which supervised operations at the beauty salon in a House office building. “It was never viewed that women could take on the issues of foreign policy, budget, finance, any of these areas. It was the soft side of the government," said DeLauro, 79, reports CNN. She further added, “There’s maybe not this sense that you have to outdo or outshine or so forth. We know what has to get done. And we want to make sure that we’re giving each other the strength to do it.”

“Every woman legislator that I know takes a thick briefing book home every single night. And I remember (former Tennessee Republican) Sen. Fred Thompson … once saying to one of our male colleagues: ‘Susan has a secret. She prepares,’” said Collins, 70. “Women, they’re good listeners. And you learn a lot by listening, not just talking. We do share information about what we’re doing, which is very helpful," Granger said.

Who are the Four Corners?

Sen Susan Collins: Born on December 7, 1952, in Caribou Maine, Collins is the top Republican. Her father, a World War II veteran, served in both the Maine State Senate and the State House, states her official website. After graduating from Phi Beta Kappa from St Lawrence University in 1975, she began working for Maine Representative Bill Cohen. In 1987, she was appointed by Maine Governor John McKernan as Commissioner of the Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. In 1992, she was appointed as Director of the Small Business Administration’s Regional Office by President George HW Bush. 

Rep Kay Granger: She was the first Republican woman to represent Texas in the US House of Representatives and the first female mayor of Fort Worth and is now the chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee. As per her official website, she is an inductee of the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame and the Fort Worth Business Hall of Fame, and she has received the Texas Association of Business’ Bob Bolen Champion of Free Enterprise Lifetime Achievement Award and the Texas Wesleyan University’s Law Sone Medal. She has also been recognized for her support of NASA. She is a champion of NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to land the first woman on the Moon by 2024.

Rep Rosa DeLauro: DeLauro, known for her purple-streaked asymmetrical haircut and fashion style, is the top Democrat. She serves as the Chair of the House Appropriations Committee and sits on the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, and is the Chair of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, states her official website.

Sen Patty Murray: Born and raised in Bothell, Washington, Murray recently became the first woman to serve as Senate president pro tempore, a senior position in the chamber that puts her third in line to the presidency, and will become chairwoman of Senate Appropriations Committee. She studied at Washington State University and also took an internship in the psychiatric ward of the Seattle VA, according to her official website. She served as the first female Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee during the 112th Congress and served as the first female Chair of the Senate Budget Committee during the 113th Congress. She is currently Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.