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Key Excerpts: 

"That Congress could soon pass a budget agreement after months of relentless partisan showdowns is thanks in large part to a mom in tennis shoes. Sen. Patty Murray presented herself in that ordinary way when she first ran as a Democrat to represent Washington state, and skeptics questioned her political savvy — and footwear. In the two decades since that long-shot campaign, the petite, no-nonsense lawmaker has quietly ascended to the top levels of Senate power. As chairwoman of the Budget Committee, Murray negotiated a breakthrough $85-billion accord in one-on-one talks with Rep. Paul D. Ryan, the former GOP vice presidential contender from Wisconsin who is known for his austere approach to the federal budget."

"The deal she and Ryan sealed with a private handshake — after President Obama, Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and others all failed — adds a significant achievement to what has become a formidable political career. The House resoundingly approved it Thursday, and the Senate is expected to pass it in the coming week, greatly reducing the risk of a federal government shutdown next year. Her role also provides a reminder of the growing clout of women in the Senate, who numbered three when she first ran for office. There are now 20. Murray is the first woman to head the Senate Budget Committee, and almost half of the chamber's committee chairmen are, in fact, now women."