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Women step up in House GOP leadership. Why that's just a start.

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Rep. Renee Ellmers (R) of North Carolina, one of 20 women among House conservatives, was likewise pleased.

“I'm proud to see the progress that is being made within our party and the growing role of women in our leadership,” Representative Ellmers said in a statement.

The number of women in the GOP leadership increased by one versus the last cycle – while Rep. Kristi Noem (R) of South Dakota stepped away, Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R) of Kansas and Rep. Virginia Foxx (R) of North Carolina both joined the leadership team.

McMorris Rodgers isn’t a token lawmaker – she was Mitt Romney’s congressional liaison and was already in party leadership during the last Congress. Moreover, she defeated a man who has deep respect in the conference for his knowledge of policy issues, particularly on health care.

But compared with the level to which women have come to help define the Democratic party in Congress, McMorris Rodgers and Co. have a long, long way to go.

One need only look to earlier in the day, when House minority leader Nancy Pelosi showed the potency and breadth of women’s power in her party. There was Representative Pelosi, standing shoulder to shoulder with many of the nearly 60 House Democratic women at a press conference announcing that she, the first-ever female speaker of the House, would stay on as leader of her caucus for another two years.

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