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Leaders On Capitol Hill Pay Tribute To Sen. Barbara Mikulski

WASHINGTON (WJZ)-- Recording-breaking politician. Some of the nation's top political leaders paid special tribute to Sen. Barbara Mikulski Wednesday.

As Derek Valcourt reports from the nation's capital, Mikulski is the longest-serving female in U.S. history.

Barbara Mikulski first came to Washington in 1977. Now 35 years later, she has served in Congress longer than any other woman ever.

From the start and throughout her career she has been a fierce advocate for her state.

"People in Maryland are angry," she said on the Senate floor.

This weekend, Barbara Mikulski made the history books for the amount of time she's spent in Congress.

"It's not just that she's the longest-serving female in the history of the United States Congress," Maryland Senator Ben Cardin said. "It's what she's done in office."

Cardin helped lead a congressional tribute to Mikulski at the Capitol Wednesday for her many milestones-- the first woman to serve in both chambers, the first Democratic woman ever elected to the Senate in her own right.

When she arrived, she was one of only two women in the Senate. Today, she is one of 17.

"And so many of us are here in the Senate because Barbara Mikulski knocked down the barriers one by one," Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said.

"I didn't start out wanting to be a historic figure," Mikulski said.

Born and raised in Baltimore, Mikulski got her start on the City Council.

Many in Baltimore remember personal stories.

"I bought this house from her because she had bought this house because it was in the path of the highway," Tony Norris, a Fells Point resident, said.

Norris is among those who highly regard the senator.

"She does Maryland very well," Norris said. "She helps us. Plus, she's good for the whole country."

But it's the people of Maryland to whom Mikulski says she'll be eternally grateful.

"And I want them to know, though I've now served in the Senate 12,892 days, I will never forget them," she said. "And every morning, I'm saying in my heart, 'Good morning! Can I help you?'"

Mikulski still has four years on her current term which means it could be a long time before another congresswoman breaks her record.

Former Senator Paul Sarbanes, Gov. Martin O'Malley and members of Mikulski's family were all on hand at the Capitol during Wednesday's tribute.

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