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Vice President Kamala Harris Invites All 24 Female Senators for Dinner

·3-min read

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Vice President Kamala Harris

The conversation was likely lively at Kamala Harris' home on Tuesday, where the vice president hosted a dinner for the female senators at her Naval Observatory residence in an event that marked the first time she has hosted lawmakers at her home while in office.

The group of invitees - 16 Democrats and eight Republicans total - were required to test negative for COVID-19 to attend (the same requirement for entry into the White House).

Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins told reporters on Tuesday that they planned to attend the dinner, according to ABC News, joking that they might be served tuna melts. (Harris, an avid home cook and former California senator, has claimed them as one of her specialties.)

CNN later reported that 21 senators attended, with some sharing pictures from the gathering.

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As Politico reported, quarterly bipartisan dinners used to be typical among female senators, following a tradition started by former Democrat Sen. Barbara Mikulski and former Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Those dinners were potluck style, with the locations rotating every six weeks and each lawmaker providing a different dish. They gradually dwindled, however, after Mikulski's retirement in 2017 and in the midst of a bitterly-contested presidential contest.

As one source told the outlet, "the sisterhood has certainly faded."

Harris, 56, organized her dinner at a time when the White House has been negotiating with conservative lawmakers over President Joe Biden's infrastructure package and other policy measures such as anti-gun violence measures and police reform.

The vice president has also seen an increased profile - and increased scrutiny - as the lead on the White House's work on immigration after there was a drastic increase in unaccompanied minors at the southern border.

RELATED: Vice President Kamala Harris Honors Heroes on 77th Anniversary of D-Day: 'Never Forget'

Harris recently returned from her first trip abroad, visiting Guatemala and Mexico to tout the Biden administration's immigration policies during a three-day trip.

She also faced questions about when she might visit the border, which has become of increasing concern to Republicans and the political press.

When inaugurated in January, Harris became the first woman vice president, as well as the first Black person and first person of Asian descent to hold the office.

She reflected on women's struggle for equality in her November victory speech.

"All the women who have worked to secure and protect the right to vote for over a century 100 years ago with the 19th Amendment, 55 years ago with the Voting Rights Act and now in 2020 with a new generation of women in our country who cast their ballots and continued the fight for their fundamental right to vote and be heard. Tonight, I reflect on their struggle, their determination and the strength of their vision to see what can be unburdened by what has been," Harris said in her speech.

Biden has previously said that he views his relationship with Harris similarly to the relationship he had as vice president with Barack Obama.

"I wanted her available to participate in everything that I did. As I told her: I wanted her to be the last person in the room," Biden told PEOPLE of his vice president.

He has also said that Harris has drop-in privileges at the Oval Office: "I made the same deal with her that Barack and I made," a reference to how Obama famously told Biden he would figure prominently in decision-making in the White House.

"When Barack and I were working out our relationship early on, he said, 'Do you have any requests?' And I said, 'Well just one: I get to be the last person in the room on every important decision," Biden said. "Not because you have to listen [or] do what I want. You make the decision.' "

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