Senate GOP names first female members to Judiciary panel

Sens. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnTrump’s new Syria timetable raises concern among key anti-ISIS allies Dem lawmaker invites Parkland survivor to attend State of the Union Bipartisan senators press Trump for strategy to protect Syrian Kurds MORE (R-Tenn.) and Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstPush for paid family leave heats up ahead of 2020 Ivanka Trump to meet with GOP senators to discuss paid family leave legislation On The Money: Negotiators aiming to reach deal Monday night | Why border talks stalled | Treasury calls reports on dip in tax refunds 'misleading' | Cuomo, Trump to discuss SALT deduction cap 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 CorkerSasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger RNC votes to give Trump 'undivided support' ahead of 2020 Sen. Risch has unique chance to guide Trump on foreign policy 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 McConnellDemocrats brush off GOP 'trolling' over Green New Deal Trump should beware the 'clawback' Congress Juan Williams: America needs radical solutions 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 FeinsteinFeinstein says she thinks Biden will run after meeting with him Trump judicial nominee Neomi Rao seeks to clarify past remarks on date rape Bottom Line 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 KavanaughFive things to watch as Barr takes the reins of Justice, Mueller probe Virginia can be better than this Constitutional conservatives need to oppose the national emergency 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 GrassleySmaller tax refunds put GOP on defensive High stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks Senate approves border bill that prevents shutdown 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."