Budget Blog

On Tuesday, Chairman Patty Murray spoke at the Fortune Most Powerful Women event in Washington, D.C. There, in an interview with Nina Easton, the senior editor of Fortune, she discussed the bipartisan budget deal she reached with Congressman Paul Ryan in December.

She said during negotiations, she and Congressman Ryan relied on trust to make compromises and forge a two-year deal that rolls back some of the automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration, and prevents another government shutdown through 2015. 

In the interview, Easton asked how Senator Murray was able to “cut through the hostile environment” in Washington D.C. and craft a compromise.

“I think the most important thing that I did and that Paul Ryan did was to come to the table, ready to listen to each other,” Senator Murray said. “That hasn’t happened in D.C. over the last several years.”

Easton asked about the agreement and “the three Fs… family, fish, and football.” Senator Murray confirmed that she and Paul Ryan both share similar experiences of going through family tragedies when they were in their teens. They both fish. And during negotiations, Senator Murray said that “what kept us laughing the most was our football teams.”

“Because that became a common bond, after we reached this agreement, worked it through Congress, I called the Seahawks and our quarterback signed a jersey to Paul Ryan, which I presented to him,” Senator Murray said.

Senator Murray got her start in politics in the early 1980s when a preschool program in her town was being closed down because of budget cuts. She went to the state capitol to talk to lawmakers about the decision, and there, a state legislator told her she couldn’t make a difference because she “was just a mom in tennis shoes.”

“I’ve always believed that you can sit at home and gripe about it, or you can go out and make a difference,” she said.

From there, Senator Murray went on to lead a grassroots campaign to save the local preschool program. She served on the local school board, was elected to the Washington State Senate in 1988, and in 1992, Murray became the first woman to represent Washington state in the United States Senate.

Read more about the interview and the event here