Meet America’s first openly gay senator

Jonathan Karl, Richard Coolidge, Jordyn Phelps & Sherisse Pham
Power Players

Politics Confidential

Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., has only been a U.S. Senator for a few days, but she's already made history. Not only is Baldwin the first female senator from Wisconsin; she is also the country's first openly gay senator. Baldwin says her sexual orientation will "absolutely" be part of her identity as a U.S. Senator.

"None of us leave our life experiences at the door when we come into our job, we bring them with us, and they inform our participation in debates, and all sorts of things," Baldwin told Politics Confidential.

The freshman senator says she is excited about her assignment to the Budget Committee and is ready to "roll up her sleeves" to fix the nation's fiscal problems.

"A balanced budget requires a balanced approach," says Baldwin. "Revenue is hugely important, spending cuts are hugely important, but the way you approach spending cuts, we have to make sure that we don’t you know, cut off our nose despite our face, that we don't impede economic growth and prosperity for American families."

Prior to her new job in the Senate, Baldwin represented Wisconsin's 2nd District in the House of Representatives for 14 years. Bringing her past experience to the table, Baldwin believes it is possible to put the country on course to achieving a balanced budget without cutting entitlement programs on which many Americans rely.

"[I] served on the budget committee for 6 years," Baldwin says. "The budget was in balance, congress made some tough choices, we had good presidential leadership, I think we, we can reconstruct that…I think the challenge has been how difficult the economy has been. We know that growth will make a big difference. It won't solve the deficit, but it will make a big difference if we get America back to work again, and prospering again.”

The Senate, however, has not even passed a budget in more than three years. But Baldwin says she believes we will see a balanced budget again, and that it will happen during her time in the Senate.

To hear Baldwin's ideas on balancing the budget and to find out who helped inspire her to dream big, check out this week's Politics Confidential.