​Barbara Mikulski: A retiring Senator who was never retiring

Bob Schieffer on retiring Sen. Barbara Mikuls... 01:41

Barbara Mikulski, the longest-serving woman in Congressional history, has made it official: she's hanging it up after 30 years.

She came out of Baltimore's tough neighborhoods and never forgot it. She appeared first on this broadcast in 1983 arguing for equal pay for women: "We continue to make 59 percent of every dollar that a man makes!"

It's a fight she's never given up:

"Women in the United States of America only make 77 cents for what men doing the same job make!"

Throwback Thursday: Barbara Mikulski discusse... 03:20

She's known for her relentless liberalism, but it's her attitude that always impressed me. And, let me tell you, she has some attitude.

A tiny woman in a Senate of mostly tall white guys, they've never intimidated her, not for a moment. She looks 'em right in the eye to tell them her side of it, and if it means standing on a box to do it, that's what she does.

A senator told me long ago, "You don't fool with Barbara."

She's developed strong across-the-aisle friendships with Republicans like Susan Collins of Maine and former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas, and when she became the first woman to head the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, she was widely respected for her bipartisanship.

Her retirement announcement came as a surprise, but not the blunt way she said it.

"Do I spend my time raising more money, or do I spend my time raising hell?"

That kind of talk is one of the reasons I really used to love politics.

  • Bob Schieffer On Twitter»

    Bob Schieffer is a CBS News political contributor and former anchor of "Face The Nation," which he moderated for 24 years before retiring in 2015.