WASHINGTON (WJZ) — Tuesday, President Barack Obama presented the Medal of Freedom to Senator Barbara Mikulski, who’s retiring at the end of this term after decades of service.

Jessica Kartalija has more.

She’s the longest-serving woman in Congressional history.

“We’re on the same page. We’re on the same path. We don’t have to have showdowns,” she said.

After 30 years of public service, Senator Barbara Mikulski is one of 17 Americans being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

WATCH HER RECEIVE THE AWARD:

“Public service is in my DNA,” she said.

Mikulski started her career as a social worker, then got into politics as a community activist.

“Growing up in east Baltimore was a real community,” she said.

Raised in Highlandtown, she was elected to the Baltimore City Council in 1971. Five years later, she was elected to the House of Representatives. In 1986, she became the fill chair of the United States Senate Appropriations Committee.

The senator, who announced she will not seek re-election next year, is being honored for her work on science research and funding, health care and equal pay for women.

“I hope we can break the gridlock, the deadlock and really get our country going,” she said.

Mikulski is 79.

In a statement, Congressman John Sarbanes said, “As the longest-serving female member of the U.S. Senate, Senator Mikulski has not only been a staunch advocate for Marylanders but also a champion for working families across the country. I count myself among the many people who have been, and who continue to be, inspired by her commitment to public service. Senator Mikulski’s legacy will extend long beyond the time she leaves office. Her unwavering fight for equality, her tireless work expanding access to health care and higher education and her dedication to the people of Maryland will endure for generations to come.”

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