Bipartisan spirit led Senate women to craft proposal

(CNN) - Will the women of the senate save the day? Well, they've certainly been trying to.

A plan by Republican Sen. Susan Collins formed the basis of a key proposal to re-open the government and avoid a first-ever default on the U.S. debt.

While that plan's prospects may now be uncertain - Senate women are still front and center.

Collins worked with a bipartisan group of senators, men and women, to put her plan together, but women were at the forefront. She said that's no coincidence.

"Although the women of the Senate span the ideological spectrum, we certainly don't think alike," Collins said. "We do share an interest in problem solving, and we tend to be more collaborative in our approach than many of our male colleagues."

Fellow Republicans Lisa Murkowski and Kelly Ayotte were among the first to sign on.

Ayotte said to expect more women taking the lead in the future.

"We have 20 women in the Senate now. That's a historic number," Ayotte said. "We can have many more, but we're not shy. We're stepping up. We're going to lead."

Democrats like Heidi Heitkamp, Amy Klobouchar and Jeanne Shaheen also got on board.

"We trust each other and that's very important when you get to this kind of a delicate negotiation," Shaheen said.

And Collins spent all weekend phoning and emailing with Democrat Patty Murray to craft budget language.

Women members have a history of coming together - on the softball field as well, facing off against the press in a yearly fundraiser.

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said when it comes to negotiating, they bring something different to the table

"Women are not as focused on obliterating the other side," Wasserman Schultz said. "They want to find a way to get to yes."

Collins said Senate women have forged close relationships over the years through monthly bipartisan dinners - bonds that can be key.

"There is a sisterhood here that transcends party lines, and I think in this case has helped us to produce some results," Collins said.

All 20 women senators are invited to these monthly dinners, and Collins says there's usually 15 women present at any given dinner. They've been holding the monthly dinners since 1997.

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