Hope and High Drama: A Year With Two New Democratic Congresswomen
Published Nov. 18, 2019, Updated Jan. 16, 2020
We followed Ayanna Pressley and Abigail Spanberger as they figured out Washington, forged alliances on the Hill — and clashed with their own party.
There are not many people whom Abigail Spanberger lets boss her around, but one of them, somehow, is Lois Frankel, a 71-year-old, 5-foot-3 four-term congresswoman from Florida who has a way of waving away protestations with a brisk, cheerful air, somewhere between “Don’t be ridiculous” and “This’ll be great.”
Last fall, it was Frankel who told Spanberger, a former covert C.I.A. case officer who had just been elected to Congress, where she should live in Washington: in Frankel’s apartment building, about a 15-minute walk from the Capitol. Spanberger said thanks but no thanks — some privacy would be nice — then looked around, found nothing, went back to Frankel and told her by text: Fine, I’ll live in your building. Frankel texted her back: Bring your bathing suit; we do water aerobics. Sunglasses-wearing emoji, sunglasses-wearing emoji, heart-eye emoji.
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