Barbara Mikulski, longest serving woman in Congress, to retire by Reuters @FortuneMagazine March 2, 2015, 12:49 PM EDT E-mail Tweet Facebook Google Plus Linkedin Share icons U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, the top Democrat on the powerful Appropriations Committee and the longest-serving female to serve in Congress, announced today that she is retiring, according to media reports. Mikulski, 78, said she would devote her final two years in Congress working for constituents in her mid-Atlantic state, not preparing to run for another term. “Do I spend my time raising money or do I spend my time raising hell?” she said at the news conference. “Remember, for the next two years, I will be here, working the way that I do.” Mikulski was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1977. She has served in the Senate since 1987. The Baltimore native earned a reputation for toughness and fiery outspokenness during her five terms in Washington. She is one of 20 women in the Senate, according to the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers. Considered one of the more liberal members of Congress, she opposed the invasion ofIraq. She also defended government spending in an era of austerity, saying in 2012 that Congress could be “frugal without being heartless.” That year, NASA researchers in Baltimore discovered the glimmer of an exploding star, which they named “Supernova Mikulski” after the senator. Fortune contributed to this report. This story was updated at 12:13 pm.