WASHINGTON -- Women who fought to earn their right to vote set the stage for a century of enfranchisement advocacy in the United States. The 14 Democratic women in the U.S. Senate introduced a bill on Thursday to designate the nation's foremost museum of women's suffrage as a national park.
If the bill passes, it would mean increased funding to pay for park rangers, expanded hours and crucial repairs to the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum in Washington, D.C.
Mikulski was elected to the House of Representatives in 1976 and the Senate a decade later, making her the longest-serving woman in the history of the U.S. Congress.
"There's a lot of support for bringing more women's history sites into the National Park system," Kristen Brengel, senior director of legislation and policy for the National Parks Conservation Association, told The Huffington Post.
The Sewall-Belmont Museum collection includes hundreds of artifacts from the decades-long struggle for equal voting rights, including posters, banners, photos and congressional voting scorecards.
"I think we lose our appreciation today for how hard these women fought for the right to vote," Brengel said, "and there are so many tactics that Alice Paul used that set the stage for people like Dr. Martin Luther King, 50 years later."
As for the bill's prospects, Brengel pointed to this week's passage of a stand-alone preservation bill in Congress to protect the Boulder-White Clouds wilderness area in Idaho, which was signed by President Barack Obama on Friday.
"We're all really encouraged by the fact that the Boulder-White Clouds bill passed without needing to be attached to another bill," Brengel said. "Prior to this, we've had to put preservation bills almost exclusively into packages with other legislation. But the fact that this passed on its own bodes really well for future national preservation efforts in Congress."
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article suggested that the National Woman's Party owned the Sewall-Belmont House prior to 1920. It was purchased by the party in 1929.