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Joe Biden: We Need 51 Female Senators And 'It Doesn't Have A Damn Thing To Do With Gender'

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Vice President Joe Biden says it's "wonderful" that the Senate has 20 women, but that the number should be more like 51. (Photo: Jennifer Bendery) | Jennifer Bendery

WASHINGTON -- Senate Democratic leaders aren't the only ones thrilled about adding more female senators to their ranks in the new Congress.

"I think it's wonderful," Vice President Joe Biden said to cheers at a reception for newly elected Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).

As of Thursday, the Senate became home to 20 female senators -- a record high. The vice president recalled something he told a colleague back when he was a senator, pushing through the Violence Against Women Act in 1994.

"The only thing that needs to change is get to the point where there are 51 women in the Senate," Biden said. "You know why? Not because you all are better or worse. Because everyone's going to figure out there ain't no difference, that everybody is qualified. It doesn't have a damn thing to do with gender."

"We're getting there," he added. "Twenty. Twenty."

Amid the cheers, one woman asked Biden about the fate of VAWA. Congress failed to reauthorize it last year for the first time since its inception, due largely to House Republican leaders refusing to bring a broadly supported Senate bill to the floor for a vote. Biden even stepped in in the final weeks to try to get something passed, working directly with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).

"I'll tell you what," Biden told the room. "If you guys will get together we'd maybe get a lot ... further down the line."

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