Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a tenacious, hard-working, passionate advocate and tireless fighter for progressive values and the safety and security of families and children in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District and across America.
Born in New York and raised on Long Island, Wasserman Schultz’ parents raised her to believe that one person could make a difference and to always reach for the top in everything she does. Involvement in student government at the University of Florida, combined with her strong belief in the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam – repairing the world – inspired her toward making public service a lifetime calling.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a trailblazer who has knocked down barriers and shattered glass ceilings. After winning 53 percent of the vote in a six-person primary in 1992, at age 26, she became the youngest woman (at that time) elected to the Florida Legislature. In 2004, she became the first Jewish woman ever elected to represent Florida in Congress.
Endorsed in 2016 by more than 50 South Florida and national labor unions, human rights, equality, environmental and women’s organizations, Wasserman Schultz is intensely focused on issues key to the success of families from all walks of life: expanding access to health care and lowering costs; improving the quality of life for children and families; protecting women’s reproductive freedom; safeguarding Social Security and Medicare; standing up for equality for all and ensuring that our brave service men and women and first responders have the support they need to do their jobs.
Wasserman Schultz is the author of For the Next Generation, a call to service for any and all Americans who wish to make a difference for future generations through public service.
Wasserman Schultz lives in Weston, in the 23rd Congressional District with her husband, Steve, and their three children. All three children attend Broward County public schools.
In 2004, as Wasserman Schultz embarked on her first Congressional campaign, a reporter called Wasserman Schultz to inform her that her opponent, also a woman, had seen her at a candidate forum using a peach crayon to take notes instead of a pen. She said this was an example of the “frazzled” life Wasserman Schultz lived, and demonstrated she would be unable to balance the demands of motherhood and Congresswoman.
Wasserman Schultz said to the reporter in response to her opponent’s attack, “The only thing that shows is that I didn’t have a pen. As a mom, I am often without a pen but I’m never without a crayon.”
You can say anything you want about me, but do not question my parenting. The only thing that shows is that as a mom, I’m often without a pen, but I’m never without a crayon.”
Wasserman Schultz has proudly balanced work and family like thousands of her constituents do every day.
- Debbie Wasserman Schultz is one of the “Mom’s in the House, With Kids at Home.” Before the sun rose over their Florida home, Debbie Wasserman Schultz pulled the thermometer from the mouth of her 8-year-old daughter, Rebecca, and checked the mercury: 103 degrees. Stay home? Or go to work? It’s a dilemma familiar to millions of working mothers. But her situation is complex: The job is 1,037 miles away, in Washington. She got on the plane and flew to a New York fundraiser and then on to Washington for her workweek as a Democratic congresswoman. She knew her husband could handle Rebecca’s fever. Still, the guilt traveled with her. “It feels like someone’s ripping my heart out,” she said. “No matter how good your spouse is, kids want their mom when they’re sick.” Wasserman Schultz, who also has a son, Rebecca’s twin, and a 3- year-old daughter, is part of a select group, the 10 women in Congress raising children under 13. It’s probably a congressional record, although no one has kept this particular
statistic. [Washington Post, July 2007]
Courageous Fighter and Cancer Survivor
In 2008, while campaigning for then Senator Barack Obama, Wasserman Schultz quietly faced her own personal battle with breast cancer. After seven surgeries, winning her own reelection, and electing the first African American President to the White House, she told the world her cancer story by introducing the Education and Awareness Requires Learning Young Act – the EARLY Act.
This law provides critical funds and directs the Centers for Disease Control to educate young women and health care providers that young women in fact can and do get breast cancer and build awareness for those women who are at higher or genetic risk for this disease.
- Rep. Wasserman Schultz: “I beat breast cancer that I kept a secret.” Determined to help other young women, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz disclosed on Saturday that she endured seven major surgeries last year, including removal of a malignant tumor, to win a bout against breast cancer. Wasserman Schultz, 42, said she has not missed a day of work since her diagnosis in December 2007 and that she has a clean bill of health. Now she plans to share her experience while calling for a nationwide education campaign to tell young women about warning signs and testing for breast cancer. [Sun Sentinel March 2009]
Wasserman Schultz has served most of her legislative service in the minority party. That has not stopped her from working across the aisle to find common ground with her Republican colleagues. Wasserman Schultz will work with everyone and anyone to ensure that our children are protected, that women have access to quality health care and the tools to be their own best health care advocates, and that senior citizens have the safety net they have paid into and are protected from identify thieves.
Legislative accomplishments include:
- Both in the state legislature and at the federal level, Wasserman Schultz fought to introduce legislation that is now law to increase the safety of swimming pools and spas by requiring use of proper anti-entrapment drain covers and increasing layers of protections around
pools. Her federal legislation, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (VGBA), has also established a state and local-level grant program to improve pool/spa safety. Drowning is the number one cause of unintentional death for children under 5 years of age and since this law was enacted, there have been NO fatal drownings in the entire country in public pools or spas due to entrapments.
- In 2015, Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz sponsored TWO bills that became law, and was the lead prime co-sponsor of a THIRD bill that also became law. All three bills became law as part of S. 178, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act.
- H.R. 1998, the HERO Act of 2015, supports critical federal child exploitation interdiction efforts, including helping to train wounded veterans as forensics analysts to assist in child exploitation investigations. She also secured $1 million in the previous and current fiscal year to fund this important program.
- H.R. 1257, the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act, makes it easier for women who have a child conceived by rape to terminate the parental rights of their rapist. The law incentivizes states financially to adopt a clear and convincing evidence standard. This legislation received national attention and acclaim and was featured on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on April 8th, 2015.
- H.R. 398, the Trafficking Awareness Training for Health Care Act, awards grants to medical and nursing schools that develop best practices to train health care professionals to recognize, and address the needs of, victims of severe forms of human trafficking.
Wasserman Schultz was the lead co-sponsor of the PALS Act, which passed as part of the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2016. This legislation established a two year moratorium on screening standards for mammography after conflicting standards were recommended by multiple organizations. The PALS requires a review of the standards and a consensus recommendation so that women have clear direction on when to begin screening mammography.
- Wasserman Schultz teamed up with then Senator Joe Biden to pass the PROTECT Our Children Act. This law established a national action plan, created a coordinator at the Department of Justice and gave law enforcement the tools and resources they need to track down and prosecute criminals exploiting children online by establishing a special counsel to improve the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program, a group of state and local task forces, to find and arrest online child predators. Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz also secured targeted annual funding for the ICACs to ensure their work could be funded nationwide.
- As a freshman Member of Congress, Jewish community leaders approached Wasserman Schultz to establish a national Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM) to educate Americans about the contributions Jewish Americans have made, and continue to make, to our country, helping to reduce intolerance, anti-Semitism and bigotry. In April 2006, President George W. Bush issued the first JAHM proclamation, and it has been proclaimed annually in the years since. In 2009, President Obama held the first White House reception in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month and has held a reception or a JAHM event at the White House each year of his Administration. Programs occur every May across our nation designed to educate and raise awareness about the 350-plus years of Jewish life in America and the many contributions – from medicine and science to culture and entertainment – Jewish Americans have made to our nation’s history.
Congressional Leadership Roles:
- Wasserman Schultz was appointed Chief Deputy Whip in the U.S. House of Representatives by U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, a post she has held since 2006. This places her in the House Democratic Leadership.
- Wasserman Schultz was the youngest cardinal (subcommittee Chair) in U.S. House Appropriations Committee history, attaining this position in her first year on the Appropriations Committee, an extremely rare occurrence.
- In the current (114th) Congress, Wasserman Schultz serves on the House Committee on Appropriations and is the Ranking Member, or the lead Democrat, on the Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee. This Appropriations subcommittee determines the funding level for the entire legislative branch. Wasserman Schultz also serves on the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee.
- Wasserman Schultz served as Chair of the Red to Blue Program (helping challengers and open seat races throughout America) for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the 2006 and 2008 election cycles and has provided assistance to hundreds of races since 2005. She also served as Chair of the Frontline incumbent protection program in the 2008 cycle.
Congressional Caucus Memberships:
- E-Tech Caucus, Co-Chair
- Girls Scouts Caucus – Co-Leader, Troop Capitol Hill
- Global WIN, Co-Chair
- Kids Safety Caucus, Founding Co-Chair
- Latino-Jewish Congressional Caucus, Co-Chair
- LGBT Equality Caucus, Founding Vice-Chair
- Animal Protection Caucus
- Anti-Bullying Caucus
- Cancer Caucus
- Creative Rights Caucus
- Cuba Democracy Caucus
- Democratic Women’s Working Group
- Everglades Caucus
- Florida Ports Caucus
- National Parks Caucus
- National Service Congressional Caucus
- New Democrat Coalition
- PORTS Caucus
- Rare Disease Congressional Caucus
- Women’s Caucus
Strong National Democratic Leader
President Barack Obama tapped Wasserman Schultz to lead the Democratic National Committee as Chair during his re-election campaign. In just 17 months and while maintaining her record as an effective member of Congress for Florida’s 23rd district, she traveled across America campaigning for President Obama and Democrats up and down the ballot. This is all in addition to running her own re-election campaign which she won in a landslide victory.
Following the re-election, Wasserman Schultz was asked by the President to serve another term at the Democratic National Committee. She helped to drive the operation and pay down the $24 million in campaign debt following the 2012 presidential election and prepare the committee for the 2016 primary and general elections. Wasserman Schultz is only the third woman to serve as DNC Chair and the first to be nominated by a sitting President. Her term ended in July of 2016.
In July of 2016, Wasserman Schultz was appointed by Hillary Clinton to serve as honorary chair of her presidential campaign’s 50-state program.
Standing Against Extreme Republicans
As a member of Congress and as chair of the DNC, Wasserman Schultz has provided a consistently strong voice standing up against extreme GOP actions and policies.
- In June 2016, during the Democratic Caucus’ historic sit in to call on Speaker Paul Ryan to bring common-sense gun reform legislation to the floor, an emotional Wasserman Schultz read a letter from her close friend, former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. In 2011, Giffords was shot and severely wounded in an assassination attempt. After reading the letter, Wasserman Schultz challenged her colleagues to act and said, “We will be here and sitting and stand strong until we can make sure there are no more Gabbys, no more Orlandos, no more Aurora, no more victims.” http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/284534-giffords-writes-open-letter-in-support-of-dem-sit-in
- Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz was tapped as a freshman Member of Congress, by then Chairman Pat Leahy (D-VT), to testify on a panel during the Senate Judiciary hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel Alito.
- On October 15, 2003, Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube was removed and within a week, the Florida Legislature had passed “Terri’s Law granting Florida Governor Jeb Bush the authority to intervene setting a precedent that allowed a Governor to intervene in a family medical emergency. The Florida Supreme Court struck down the law. However, Governor Bush appealed to his brother President George W. Bush and Republicans in Washington to once again intervene in this family affair. Just two months after Wasserman Schultz was sworn into Congress in 2005, she forced the GOP House of Representatives back in session to take a stand for civil rights and helped lead the debate against the bill.
Wasserman Schultz is a recognized Florida and national progressive leader who fights tirelessly on behalf of legislation that will protect women, children, and seniors.
She supports a $15 minimum wage, comprehensive immigration reform, gun control and safety reform, and a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions.
- Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Tenure In Florida’s State Legislature “Established Her As One Of The Most Liberal Politicians In The State.” “Wasserman Schultz’s tenure in Florida’s state legislature – eight years in the House and four years in Senate – established her as one of the most liberal politicians in the state. She was an advocate for legislation protecting women’s rights, seniors, and children, including legislation requiring gender price parity for dry cleaning and ensuring an equal number of men and women were appointed to state boards.” [Cloture Club, March 2011]
- Debbie Wasserman Schultz Was “One Of The [Florida] Legislature’s Most Liberal Members.” “Debbie Wasserman Schultz went on to serve eight years in the state house, including a term as house Democratic leader pro tempore, house Democratic floor leader, and chair of the Broward legislative delegation. From 1994 to 1996, she chaired the house Committee on Higher Education. Term-limited in 2000, she ran for and won a seat in the Florida State Senate. During her dozen years in Tallahassee, Wasserman Schultz was one of the legislature’s most liberal members.” [The Jews of Capitol Hill: A Compendium of Jewish Congressional Members, 12/29/10]
- Debbie Wasserman Schultz Had A Reputation As “One Of The Most Liberal Members” Of Florida’s Legislature. “She pushed for a law that would have forced dry cleaners to charge the same rates for cleaning women’s clothes as men’s and authored another bill requiring that each state board be comprised of equal numbers of men and women. When she proposed a measure mandating gender neutral language in all state statutes, her colleagues gave her a nickname that even she had to admit was funny: ‘Wasserperson.’ Her strong support for the gay community and for abortion rights helped to cement her reputation as one of the most liberal members of the legislature. But she reached across the aisle to win passage of a swimming pool safety bill and appealed to a broader constituency with her dogged fight for smaller class sizes. In 1996, she and other south Florida Jewish leaders successfully lobbied Governor Lawton Chiles to veto an education bill that would have allowed voluntary student led prayer at graduations, assemblies and sporting events.” [Moment Mag, May/June 2009]
- Confirming Her Role As A Champion for Main Street, Conservative Wall Street-Dominated ‘Club For Growth’ Ranks Wasserman Schultz No. 435 Out Of 435 Members Of Congress. Demonstrating Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s position as among the most liberal members of Congress, the conservative group Club for Growth has ranked her 435 out of 435 members of Congress on its 2015 legislative scorecard. According to RightWingWatch.org, Club for Growth’s membership of 9,000 is “dominated by Wall Street financiers and executives.” The most Wall Street-friendly conservative members of Congress dominate the top of the Club for Growth’s annual scorecard. Wasserman-Schultz’s position at the bottom of the group’s 2015 scorecard demonstrates her strong support for working family-friendly “Main Street” issues.