She is known as the dean of the Senate among her women colleagues. She is often described as feisty.
And after she became the chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, The New York Times reported that although her predecessors were loved and respected, she was feared.
On Monday, U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, the longest-serving woman in Congress, announced that she would retire when her term ends in January 2017.
The Maryland Democrat became a senator in 1987 after 10 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, was the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee and was the first woman to head it.
Mikulski has long had a reputation for being blunt. Here are some of her memorable comments:
In January 2014, announcing a bipartisan appropriations bill, Mikulski said the process involved no "cute and funnies," according to U.S. News and World Report.
"This wasn’t kind of fun and Kumbaya," she said. "This was hard work."
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Of women who are strong and persistent, she told the same publication: "Men fear us, but that is the way they talked about their mothers when they said 'clean up your room.' We said 'clean up your act, it is time we do something to help the American people.'"
In August 2013, The New York Times described a reporter calling out "Madame Chairwoman" as he tried to keep up with her in a hallway.
"That's right, 'Madame Chairwoman.' I like it," she said without stopping.
In July of that year, Mikulski halted a hearing when a BuzzFeed reporter, Rosie Gray, tweeted that she was trying to keep other senators from asking the director of the National Security Agency about the agency's data mining programs, The Times also reported.
"There is no attempt here to muzzle, stifle any senator from asking any line of question," she responded to the tweet.
"So, Rosie, it's an open hearing. Hi, look forward to keeping in touch."
"OMG WHAT IS GOING ON," Gray then tweeted.
"@SenatorBarb, call me!"
In 2013, Slate reported that when Republicans tried to encourage the rumor that Mikulski was gay, she denied it. She joked to Bob Shrum, who was working for her campaign: "There was no Ted Kennedy who ever asked me out."
Senate Republicans in 2013 blocked a bill she had sponsored aimed at tightening a law that made it illegal to pay women less than men for comparable jobs.
"When I hear all these phony reasons, some are mean and some are meaningless, I do get emotional," Mikulski said of arguments against the legislation. "I get angry. I get outraged. I get volcanic."
When she first ran for the U.S. Senate, she was told she did not look like a senator.
"A lot of Americans, black or white or female, are always told that they don’t look the part," she said, according to Time magazine. "It’s one of the oldest code words.”
In her comments about her retirement on Monday, she reassured listeners about her decision.
"I want the people of Maryland to know there is nothing gloomy about this announcement," she said. "There's no health problem; I'm not frustrated with the Senate. The Senate will always be what the Senate is."
Torey Van Oot contributed to this article.