Senate GOP names first female members to Judiciary panel

Sens. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnHillicon Valley: House passes anti-robocall bill | Senators inch forward on privacy legislation | Trump escalates fight over tech tax | Illinois families sue TikTok | Senators get classified briefing on ransomware Senators inch forward on federal privacy bill Director of National Intelligence Maguire should stand for the whistleblower MORE (R-Tenn.) and Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstRepublicans raise concerns over Trump pardoning service members Congress braces for chaotic December Senate roundtable showcases importance and needs of women entrepreneurs MORE (R-Iowa) are set to become the first female Republican senators to serve on the Judiciary Committee.

Blackburn, who is succeeding Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerRNC says ex-Trump ambassador nominee's efforts 'to link future contributions to an official action' were 'inappropriate' Lindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Nareit — White House cheers Republicans for storming impeachment hearing MORE (R-Tenn.), and Ernst are being named to the high-profile panel, according to a roster released by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans Schumer briefs Democrats on impeachment trial 'mechanics' Trump legal team gears up for Senate impeachment trial in meeting with GOP senators MORE (R-Ky.) on Thursday. The committee assignments are expected to be approved by the full Senate next week.

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They will be the only — and first — female senators of Republicans' 12 members to serve on the committee. Democrats have four female senators on the committee, including ranking member Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenate confirms Trump pick labeled 'not qualified' by American Bar Association Feinstein endorses Christy Smith for Katie Hill's former House seat Director of National Intelligence Maguire should stand for the whistleblower MORE (D-Calif.)

Blackburn was viewed as a likely choice to join the committee. Republicans have eight female senators at the start of the 116th Congress and five indicated last year that they were not interested in joining the committee. Ernst is also joining the Senate GOP leadership team this year.

Their addition to the Senate panel comes after Republicans scrambled during the confirmation fight over Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughHouse, Senate Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law Justices appear cautious of expanding gun rights in NY case Thanks to President Trump, major tests loom for Chief Justice Roberts MORE’s Supreme Court nomination late last year to avoid comparisons to the 1991 Anita Hill hearings, where an all-male committee drew sharp criticism for its questioning of Hill. The backlash from those hearings helped spark the 1992 "Year of the Woman" movement, when four women — all Democrats — were elected to the Senate in a single year.

To avoid similar dynamics, Republicans hired a female attorney to handle the questioning of Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were both in high school. Kavanaugh, who was subsequently confirmed, denied the allegation.

Republicans drew more criticism when Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyTrump escalates fight over tax on tech giants Falling impeachment support raises pressure for Democrats on trade Push to investigate Bidens sets up potential for Senate turf war MORE (R-Iowa) came under fire for his comments about women serving on the Senate panel.

“It’s a lot of work — maybe they don’t want to do it,” Grassley told reporters last year. “My chief of staff of 33 years tells me we’ve tried to recruit women and we couldn’t get the job done.”

He later said that his comments were misunderstood by Democrats, telling Fox News that “I should have said [that] we even have a hard time getting men to serve on this committee.”

But GOP leadership also pledged to work to convince a female member to join the panel, noting they had been unsuccessful with similar efforts in the past.

"We've encouraged several of our women senators to go on the committee and I intended to do that again at the beginning of the next session," Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters in October.

He added that "there's been no effort" to have all GOP spots on the committee be held by male senators, but said his previous encouragement for female senators to join the panel was met "obviously without success."