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Sen. Barbara Mikulski to announce retirement after 30 years in office

By Andrew V. Pestano
Sen. Barbara Mikulski to announce retirement after 30 years in office
Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland is the longest-serving congresswoman in U.S. history. "The most exciting part about being a senator is knowing that I have helped make a difference in people’s lives," Mikulski said. File Photo by Nell Redmond/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, March 2 (UPI) -- Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., the longest-serving congresswoman in history, will announce her retirement after serving five consecutive terms -- 30 years in office.

Mikulski, 78, will not seek re-election in 2016, The Washington Post reported. She served on the Baltimore City Council for five years before she was first elected to Congress in 1986.

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She's known for her passion on certain issues, but also would reach across the aisle for partisan support. Recent polls have shown Mikulski to have a positive approval rating.

Mikulski was the first woman to chair the Appropriations Committee in 2012, a position she lost when Democrats lost control of the Senate.

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"One of the things I am most proud of is strengthening the safety net for seniors by passing the Spousal Anti-Impoverishment Act," Mikulski states on her website. "This important legislation helps keep seniors from going bankrupt while paying for a spouse's nursing home care."

If Mikulski was not a senator, she said she would have wanted to be a scientist -- inspired by famous physicist and chemist Marie Curie.

"The most difficult thing about being a senator is considering whether or not to send American troops to war. That is not a responsibility that I take lightly," Mikulski said on her website. "While I continue to fight to provide our troops with the resources they need in the field, I am proud to have voted against sending our men and women in uniform into the war in Iraq."

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Her favorite meal is Maryland crab cakes, which she willingly distributes her mother's recipe to the public.

"When I'm not eating delicious crab cakes, I follow what I call a heart healthy diet, which isn't always easy," she said. "I like parsley, but I like pizza better!"

Mikulski's retirement comes as a surprise to some considering she was expected to win re-election in 2016. Maryland Democrat Rep. Chris Van Hollen, former aide on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is speculated to run in Mikulski's stead.

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