House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) will give the party's official response to the president's State of the Union address next week, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Thursday.
McMorris Rodgers, the fourth-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, is currently serving her fifth term in Congress. Boehner said the mother of three's backstory is one "to which many Americans can relate."
"Through the lens of her family’s experiences, Cathy will share our vision for a better America built on a thriving middle class, guided by a fierce belief in life and liberty, and grounded in greater trust between citizens and their government," Boehner said in a statement. "We are grateful to Cathy for lending her voice and perspective to this national occasion.”
The selection comes as the Republican party has attempted to strengthen its image among women. In December, House Republican leaders met with top aides to GOP congressional candidates to teach them "to be a little more sensitive" on the campaign trail.
"You know, you look around the Congress, there are a lot more females in the Democratic caucus than there are in the Republican conference," Boehner said at a December press conference. "And some of our members just aren't as sensitive as they ought to be."
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story mistakenly identified House Speaker John Boehner as the House majority leader.