House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced on Tuesday that three congresswomen have taken on new positions in the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, a group that guides party leaders on policy decisions and assigns members to committees.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) is the new vice chair of the committee, Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) will be chief deputy whip, and Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) is joining the committee as a member. The committee is co-chaired by Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Rob Andrews (D-N.J.)
“Congresswomen Schakowsky, Sewell, and Chu each represent the best of our Democratic Caucus -- its diversity, its commitment, and its dedication to a strong, thriving, and growing middle class,” Pelosi said in a statement. "These leaders bring strong values and a clear vision to our Steering and Policy Committee, and their insights and ideas will prove essential in advancing an agenda of fairness for women, good jobs for our workers, opportunity for families, and responsible deficit reduction for America's future."
House Democrats have made a big push this year for more women in leadership positions and for a comprehensive women's economic policy agenda, which includes fair pay, a higher minimum wage, stronger policies on paid sick and family leave, and affordable childcare for working mothers.
Women still make up only 19 percent of Congress -- a record high -- despite being more than half of the U.S. population.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) drew criticism earlier this year when he appointed only men to head the 12 major House Committees. In what appeared to be an afterthought, he then appointed Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.) to chair the House Administration Committee, also known by some as the "Housekeeping Committee."
Pelosi told HuffPost in a June interview that Congress is "rigged" to keep women's voices out of the discussion.
"This is an environment that is almost rigged -- intentionally or not, wittingly or not -- rigged so that the status quo just goes on," Pelosi said. "We have to kick open the door and make our own environment, reduce the role of money [in campaigns], insist on the civility of debates, and bring more women here, and that's a better reflection of our country."