Arizona's freshman Rep. Martha McSally says lessons she learned as the first female Air Force pilot to fly a combat mission translate to the male-dominated Congress where she's already invoking her maverick spirit, The New York Times reported.
"I think my being a combat pilot, being a woman who has had to break down barriers and succeed in a male-dominated environment and, I think, just being in the military for 26 years have all helped me," she told the Times.
"Being a female who has put up with some challenging and often hostile environments to break through barriers, and usually and often the only woman in the room and having to figure out how to succeed and be credible in that environment, has certainly translated to this male-dominated institution," McSally said.
"So I’m very comfortable, actually, in this environment. It reminds me of a fighter squadron."
After winning a tight race as a Republican representing Gabrielle Giffords' previous Tucson-area district, McSally quickly got oriented to Washington — and bucking her own party, the Times said.
Up first was joining 26 other House GOP lawmakers to oppose a Republican-led bill that would revoke the legal protections afforded undocumented youth brought to the U.S. as children, the Times noted in a Q&A story with McSally published Monday.
"We were joking about it yesterday. Maybe I’ll start a little group of us that’s called the Don’t Do Stupid Stuff caucus. I’m going to be in the D.D.S.S. caucus. I’m going to lead it," she teased, adding that "There’s no reason for us to be doing stupid things that are not getting us anywhere."
Such pushback, she warned, will be a part of her strategy to vote what's right — to her.
"So in general, if we start doing any Don Quixote kinds of things that just don’t seem strategic, I’m going to be a voice against it. From my perspective, I think in 2014 people voted against Obama, not necessarily for Republicans. And now we have two years to show that we can govern."
McSally, who lost her first bid for Congress, earned her spot there through persistence. Hers was the final House race declared in 2014 after a mandatory recount of a tight battle, USA Today reported.
She defeated Democratic Rep. Ron Barber by just 167 votes.
Bucking GOP leaders again last week, McSally joined 17 colleagues to vote against the House Republican budget, the Arizona Republic noted.
McSally, a retired Air Force colonel, disagreed with the budget's lack of sufficient military spending as well as its cuts to healthcare projects impacting seniors, the Republic said.
McSally views her role in Washington as all business, not political glad-handing, she told the Times of her focus.
"I’m not here to wine and dine. I’m here to work. And then if we’re done, then it’s time to go home and get back to the constituents and hear from them," she said.
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