Senate GOP names first female members to Judiciary panel

Sens. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnConservative groups defend tech from GOP crackdown Lawmakers weigh challenges in fighting robocalls Senators show deep skepticism on Space Force proposal MORE (R-Tenn.) and Joni ErnstJoni Kay Ernst Embattled senators fill coffers ahead of 2020 GOP senators divided on Trump trade pushback Abrams: Schumer has been 'relentless but thoughtful' about Senate bid 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 CorkerPollster says Trump unlikely to face 'significant' primary challenge GOP gets used to saying 'no' to Trump Democrats introduce bill to rein in Trump on tariffs 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 McConnellOvernight Health Care: McConnell offering bill to raise tobacco-buying age to 21 | NC gov vetoes 'born alive' abortion bill | CMS backs off controversial abortion proposal HR 1 brings successful local, state reforms to the federal level and deserves passage The Hill's 12:30 Report: Inside the Mueller report 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 FeinsteinFive takeaways from Mueller's report Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates GOP senators divided on Trump trade pushback 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 KavanaughThe Hill's Morning Report — Category 5 Mueller storm to hit today On The Money: Cain 'very committed' to Fed bid despite opposition | Pelosi warns no US-UK trade deal if Brexit harms Irish peace | Ivanka Trump says she turned down World Bank job GOP strategist: Alabama Republicans need to 'gather around' candidate who 'is not Roy Moore' 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 GrassleyOn The Money: Inside the Mueller report | Cain undeterred in push for Fed seat | Analysis finds modest boost to economy from new NAFTA | White House says deal will give auto sector B boost The 7 most interesting nuggets from the Mueller report Government report says new NAFTA would have minimal impact on economy 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."