Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Debbie Wasserman Schultz 52nd Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee Incumbent Assumed office
May 4, 2011
Nominated by Barack Obama Preceded by Tim Kaine Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 20th district
Incumbent Assumed office
January 3, 2005
Preceded by Peter Deutsch Member of the Florida State Senate from the 34th District In office
January 20, 2003 – November 2, 2004
Preceded by Alberto Gutman Succeeded by Nan Rich Member of the Florida State Senate from the 32nd District In office
January 3, 2001 – January 3, 2003
Preceded by Howard C. Forman Succeeded by Walter Campbell, Jr. Member of the
Florida House of Representatives
from from the 97th District
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 2001
Preceded by Fred Lippman Succeeded by Nan Rich Personal details Born September 27, 1966
Forest Hills, New York
Political party Democratic Spouse(s) Steve Schultz Relations Larry Wasserman, CPA (father)
Jake and Rebecca (Twins, c:a 2000)
Residence Weston, Florida Alma mater University of Florida (B.A., M.A.) Occupation Politician Religion Judaism Signature 
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (born September 27, 1966) is the U.S. Representative for Florida's 20th congressional district, serving since 2005. She is a member of the Democratic Party and the Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. She previously served in the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate. She is the first Jewish Congresswoman ever elected from Florida.
- 1 Early life, education and career
- 2 Florida House of Representatives
- 3 U.S. House of Representatives
- 4 Political positions
- 5 Political campaigns
- 6 Personal life
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Early life, education and career
Born Deborah Wasserman in Forest Hills, Queens in New York City, she grew up on Long Island. She received a Bachelor of Arts in 1988 and a Master of Arts with certificate in political campaigning in 1990, both in Political Science, from the University of Florida in Gainesville.
At the University of Florida, Wasserman Schultz was active in student government, serving as President of the Student Senate as well as founder and president of the Rawlings Area Council Government. She was also a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa honor society, the James C. Grimm chapter of the National Residence Hall Honorary, and the union Graduate Assistants United, served as President of the Graduate Student Council, and Vice President of the UF College Democrats. She had credited her experience in student politics with developing her "love for politics and the political process."
Florida House of Representatives
In 1988 Wasserman Schultz became an aide to Peter Deutsch at the beginning of his state legislative career. In 1992 Deutsch made a successful run for United States House of Representatives for Florida's 20th District. Wasserman Schultz recalled getting a call from Deutsch at the time: "It was really amazing. He called me at home one day in the middle of the legislative session and he said, You could run in my race, your house is in my district." Having lived in the district for only three years, Wasserman Schultz won 53 percent of the vote in a six-way Democratic primary and avoided a runoff. She went on to win the general election and succeeded Deutsch in Florida's House of Representatives. At the age of 26 she became the youngest female legislator in the state's history.
She served in the Florida State House of Representatives for eight years, and had to leave office due to state term limits. In addition to her work as a state legislator, she became an adjunct instructor of political science at Broward Community College, as well as a public policy curriculum specialist at Nova Southeastern University. With her experience in the Florida House, she ran for the Florida State Senate in 2000 and was again victorious. During her tenure in Florida's state legislature, she was considered one of the most liberal representatives in the state. She supported legislation requiring gender price parity for dry cleaning and an equal number of men and women were appointed to state boards. She pushed through several bills including the Florida Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act and one creating a Children's Services Council for Broward County. She received an award from the Save The Manatee Club for her commitment to manatee protection as state senator.
U.S. House of Representatives
- Committee on the Budget
- Committee on the Judiciary
- Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet
- Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security
Wasserman Schultz is a member of the New Democrat Coalition.
Wasserman Schultz was appointed to the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee in her first term. During the 2006 elections, she raised over seventeen million dollars in campaign contributions for her Democratic colleagues (third most after Nancy Pelosi and Rahm Emanuel), she was chosen as Chief Deputy Whip and appointed to the Appropriations Committee, a plum assignment for a sophomore congresswoman. She currently chairs the Committee's Legislative Branch subcommittee, which Pelosi returned to the Committee after it was dissolved by Republican leadership in 2005. Shortly after acquiring her spot on the Appropriations Committee, Wasserman Schultz received the waiver necessary to sit on an additional committee (Appropriations is typically an exclusive committee), and she is currently a member of the Judiciary Committee. In addition to her committee and leadership roles, she is a member of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's "30 Something" Working Group, which consists of congressional Democrats under age 40. The group concentrates on issues affecting young people, including Social Security. She also has joined the bipartisan Congressional Cuba Democracy Caucus. According to the Congress.org 2008 Power Rankings, she was the 24th most powerful member of the House and 22nd most powerful Democratic representative (also most powerful Florida representative).
Wasserman Schultz is pro-choice, pro-gun control and pro-gay rights. She was strongly critical of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which places limits on taxpayer-funded abortions in the context of the November 2009 Affordable Health Care for America Act.
Terri Schiavo case
During the Terri Schiavo case, she was one of the strongest opponents of congressional intervention. She publicly accused President George W. Bush of hypocrisy for signing a 1999 bill as governor of Texas that allows health care workers to remove life support for terminally ill patients if the patient or family is unable to pay the medical bills. During the debate Wasserman Schultz pointed out that a Texas law signed into law by then Gov. George W. Bush allowed caregivers to withhold treatment "at the point that futility has been reached and there is no longer any hope of survival or of additional health care measures being used to sustain life. …[this] seems to conflict with his position today." Cox News Service reported that “The Texas law was intended to control in cases in which medical teams and patients' representatives disagree on treatment. In the Schiavo case, the medical team and Schiavo's husband agreed that there was no hope of improvement in her condition, determined by lower courts to be a ‘persistent vegetative state.’” Wasserman Schultz also cited the case of a six-month old Texas baby whose life support had been removed in accord with this law and over the objections of his family while the Schiavo controversy was ongoing.
After the controversy Wasserman Schultz issued a statement that said, “The Congress is not an objective body. It is a partisan, political body. Our Members are not doctors or bioethicists. We are elected officials. The Congress is not the appropriate venue to decide end-of-life or any private, personal family dispute. That is why there are court reviews which allow for an objective evaluation of both sides of a dispute. The Congress was never designed for, and our Founding Fathers never intended, the body to make these kinds of decisions. What was lost in the midst of this debate was that this was not about pro-life interest groups, or about the parents or the husband. It wasn’t about the President, or the Governor, or the Republican or Democratic party. It was about a personal family tragedy. I am worried about the direction our country is moving in. I am worried when members of Congress and the President try to overstep over twenty court rulings on a case that had gone on for years. I am worried when special interest groups exploit a family tragedy for political and financial gain. I am worried when the federal government attempts to step between a husband and a wife because members of Congress believe they know better.”
Middle East crisis
While her predecessor and mentor Peter Deutsch was “among the most hawkish congressional Democrats on Middle East issues”, Wasserman Schultz, who took over his seat for Florida’s 20th district, “a heavily Jewish swath of Broward County”, has taken a more centrist approach. During 2005 she spoke in approval of President George W. Bush’s proposals to give financial aid to the Palestinian Authority in both the proposed supplemental and in the 2006 budgets. She said “We want to continue to focus on making sure that… the policy coming from Washington continues to encourage and support and nurture the peace process. In [Bush’s] first four years, there was a lack of leadership coming from the administration. I know many people in the Jewish community were happy with the president’s position on Israel, but the way I thought, there was an absence of leadership.… So I’m glad to see there’s a little more engagement and involvement from the administration.”
She defended her party against suggestions that the Democrats are anti-Israel, saying “I would stack up the Democratic caucus’s position on the support for Israel against the Republican caucus’s any day of the week and be much more confident — and the Jewish community should be much more confident — in the Democrats’ stewardship of Israel than the Republicans, especially if you compare the underlying reasons for both groups’ support for Israel. The very far right group of Republicans’ interest in Israel is not because they are so supportive of there being a Jewish state and making sure that Jews have a place that we can call home. It has references to Armageddon and biblical references that are more their interest. So I would encourage members of the Jewish community to put their faith in Democrats, because our support for Israel is generally for the right reasons.”
Presidential signing statements
Wasserman Schultz supports the use of appropriations for future control of Presidential signing statements as developed as part of questions during the House Judiciary Committee hearing on the constitutional limits of executive power 26 July 2008.
Jewish American Heritage Month
Wasserman Schultz and Senator Arlen Specter were the driving forces behind the resolution that declared every May “Jewish American Heritage Month.” The annual observance was created to recognize “the accomplishments of American Jews and the important role that members of the Jewish community have played in the development of American culture.” The observance is modeled after Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month and Women's History Month. Wasserman Schultz envisioned "classroom instruction, public ceremonies and broadcast announcements." Wasserman Schultz stated "There's a generation of children growing up with a fading memory of what happened during World War II or even an understanding of anyone who is Jewish or their culture and traditions. Through education comes tolerance." The bill introducing the observance passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate and signed by President George W. Bush. Wasserman Schultz said of the proclamation “This is an historic occasion. Generations to come will have the chance to live without anti-Semitism through greater understanding and awareness of the significant role that American Jews have played in U.S. history. Jewish American Heritage Month is a reality because of the people gathered today in this room.”
The measure was criticized by Gary Cass, executive director of the Center for Reclaiming America, a national Christian organization based in Fort Lauderdale. Cass objected to "teaching Jewish history without talk of religious practices and values", saying "We cannot seem to have an honest discussion about the Christian roots of America." He also wondered "How much tolerance would [Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz] have for a Christian Heritage month?" Wasserman Schultz believed the situation was different, saying "Judaism is unique, because it is both a ethnicity and a religion", and that "she would not support teaching any religion in public schools."
Her father Larry Wasserman said that while Wasserman Schultz had not been particularly active in the Jewish community before entering politics, she has “forged ties with Jewish groups as a lawmaker. She helped to form the National Jewish Democratic Council and served on the regional board of the American Jewish Congress.”
2008 financial crisis
During an April, 2009 House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, fellow Floridian Tom Rooney, a retired U.S. Army JAG Corps officer, introduced an amendment that would make attacks against military veterans a hate crime. Wasserman Schultz remarked on the amendment:I'm from a state, as Mr. Rooney is, that includes and represents the districts that include real victims. I represent a very large -- one of the largest gay populations in the United States of America. One of the largest Jewish populations in the United States of America. My region -- our region has a very large African-American population. It really is belittling of the respect that we should have for these groups to suggest that members of the armed services have somehow systematically been the victims of hate crimes.
In 2004, Wasserman Schultz's mentor, Deutsch, gave up his Congressional seat to make an unsuccessful run for the Senate seat of fellow Democrat Bob Graham. Wasserman Schultz was unopposed in the Democratic primary election held to fill Deutsch's seat. Her Republican opponent was Margaret Hostetter, a realtor who had never held public office. The 20th is so heavily Democratic that Hostetter faced nearly impossible odds in November. However, she gained notability for her attacks on Wasserman Schultz. For example, Hostetter's campaign site criticized Wasserman Schultz for protesting an American flag photograph with a Christian cross on it that was on display in the workstation of a secretary in a government building. Hostetter wrote, "Elect Margaret Hostetter to Congress November 2 and send the clear message that Americans respect and support... the foundational role Christianity has had in the formation of our great nation. Our rights come from God, not the state."
As expected, Wasserman Schultz won, taking 70.2% to Hostetter's 29.8%. However, Hostetter had only spent about $30,000 to get 30% of the vote (compared to Wasserman Schultz's $1.2 million). When Wasserman Schultz was sworn in on January 4, 2005, she chose to use the Tanakh. Because Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert only had a Christian Bible, a copy of the Tanakh was borrowed by Hastert's staff from Congressman Gary Ackerman for this purpose. (This fact was brought up two years later during the Qur'an oath controversy of the 110th United States Congress.)
She was unopposed for reelection in 2006.
Wasserman Schultz won against Independent Margaret Hostetter and Socialist write-in candidate Marc Luzietti.
Wasserman Schultz announced her support of Hillary Clinton for her party's 2008 presidential nomination, and in June 2007 was named one of Clinton's national campaign co-chairs. Once Senator Barack Obama became the presumptive Democratic nominee, she endorsed him and joined Senator Ken Salazar of Colorado and Representative Artur Davis of Alabama to second his nomination at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
On CBS's Face the Nation, she declared Sarah Palin to be unready for the Vice Presidency. “She knows nothing.... Quite honestly, the interview I saw and that Americans saw on Thursday and Friday was similar to when I didn’t read a book in high school and had to read the Cliff’s Notes and phone in my report,” Wasserman Schultz said of Palin’s interview with ABC’s Charlie Gibson last week. “She’s Cliff-noted her performance so far.” [Politico.com 9/14/08] Wasserman Schultz was also named a co-chair of the Democratic Party's Red to Blue congressional campaign group. Controversy arose in March 2008 when she announced that she would be unable to campaign against South Florida Republican representatives Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen because of her good friendship with them. Wasserman Schultz and Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) are both on the LGBT Equality Caucus of which Wasserman Schultz is the Vice Chair.
Wasserman Schultz was challenged by Republican nominee Karen Harrington and Independents Stanley Blumenthal and Bob Kunst. Florida Whig Party candidate Clayton Schock ran as a write-in.
Chair of the Democratic National Committee
On April 5, 2011, Vice President Joe Biden announced that she was President Barack Obama's choice to succeed Tim Kaine as the 52nd Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Once confirmed by the Democratic National Committee, she became the third female DNC chief in history and the first in over 15 years. Until she assumed office, current DNC Vice-Chair Donna Brazile served as the interim Chair of the Democratic National Committee. Wasserman Shultz was confirmed at the meeting of the DNC held on May 4, 2011, in Washington, DC.
Wasserman Schultz currently lives in Weston outside Fort Lauderdale. She is a mother of three and is married to Steve Schultz. She is an active member of the National Jewish Democratic Council, Planned Parenthood and Hadassah.
In March 2009, she revealed that she underwent seven surgeries related to breast cancer in 2008, while maintaining her responsibilities as a member of the House. That year, she promoted efforts for early screening for breast cancer.
- Giraffe award, Women's Advocacy Majority Minority (WAMM), 1993
- Outstanding Family Advocacy award, Dade County Psychol. Assn., 1993
- Rosemary Barkett award, Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers, 1995
- Woman of the Year, AMIT, 1994
- Outstanding Legislator of the year, Florida Federation of Business & Professional Women, 1994
- Quality Floridian, Florida League of Cities, 1994
- Woman of Vision, Weizmann Institute of Science
- One of Six Most Unstoppable Women, South Florida Magazine, 1994.
- ^ "Debbie Wasserman Schultz." Carroll's State Directory. Carroll Publishing, 2006. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale, 2009. Document Number: K2416014764.(http://www.galenet.com/servlet/BioRC). Fee via Fairfax County Public Library, accessed 2009-04-25.
- ^ a b Doup, Liz (April 5, 2009). "Debbie Wasserman Schultz shows steely resolve in grueling cancer battle. A hectic workload. A young family. And seven cancer surgeries. But Wasserman Schultz keeps going.". South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Florida: Forum Publishing Group). http://www.sun-sentinel.com/features/health/sfl-wasserman-schultz-cancer-a04.ar0sbapr05,0,2806724.story. Retrieved 2009-04-25. "For two weeks, she's hit the stump, talking about her breast cancer battle.The seven surgeries, including a double mastectomy. The nearly nonstop work load. And how she kept it quiet from her children — and constituents and colleagues, telling only about a dozen people, including family and staff....
"I remember how she was only half out of anesthesia and she was on the BlackBerry," says her brother, Steve Wasserman, an assistant U.S. Attorney in Washington, who was with her during the mastectomy. Nine days after that surgery in February 2008, she hosted a fundraiser for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, while getting pain medication from a pump hidden in her purse. "I didn't talk about it — I didn't want to talk about it," she says, referring to the cancer. After a doctor removed the lump in her right breast, tests showed a genetic mutation putting her at high risk for a recurrence of breast or ovarian cancer. She didn't hesitate. Her breasts and ovaries had to go. And, yes, she mourned her breasts."
- ^ http://wassermanschultz.house.gov/about/biography.shtml
- ^ "Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz." Florida House of Representatives
- ^ a b c d e f g h E.J. Kessler (March 4, 2005). "Florida Democrat Blazing Her Own Trail on Capitol Hill". The Jewish Forward. http://www.forward.com/articles/florida-democrat-blazing-her-own-trail-on-capitol/. Retrieved on Jan. 7, 2007
- ^ a b "Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz," Florida House of Representatives.
- ^ http://ufdemocrats.org/posts/debbie-wasserman-schultz-meets-with-ufcd-leadership/
- ^ Schultz, Debbie Wasserman. "Speech to Harvard Model Congress: Youth Participation In Politics." 4 Mar. 2006.
- ^ a b c d "Election to House caps fast ascent for Florida woman seen as rising star". JTA. 2004-11-08. http://www.jta.org/page_view_story.asp?intarticleid=14712&intcategoryid=3. Retrieved on Jan. 9, 2007
- ^ "Debbie Wasserman Schultz." Carroll's Federal Directory. Carroll Publishing, 2009. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale, 2009. Document Number: K2415004095. (http://www.galenet.com/servlet/BioRC). Fee via Fairfax County Public Library, accessed 2009-04-25.
- ^ "Congress.org - Power Rankings 2008". http://www.congress.org/congressorg/power_rankings/overall.tt. Retrieved 2009-04-25.
- ^ Ken Herman (March 22, 2005). "In Texas, Bush sided with spouses in cases like this". Cox News Service. http://www.seattlepi.com/national/217023_texas22.html. Retrieved on Jan. 9, 2007
- ^ Debbie Wasserman Schultz (2005-05-01). "The Lessons Learned From Terri Schiavo". US House of Representatives. http://www.house.gov/list/hearing/fl20_schultz/2005May.html. Retrieved on Jan. 8, 2007
- ^ "Hearing on Limits of Executive Power: Debbie W. Schultz". 2008-07-26. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQScXo7lawQ&feature=related. Retrieved on July. 29, 2008
- ^ a b "Jewish American Heritage Month Proclaimed as May". 2006-04-25. http://www.house.gov/list/press/fl20_schultz/JAHMeventannouncement.html. Retrieved on Jan. 7, 2007
- ^ a b c d Beth Reinhard (December 16, 2005 Friday). "Jewish History Month proposal up to president". Miami Herald. http://www.house.gov/list/speech/fl20_schultz/20051216.html. Retrieved on Jan. 8, 2007
- ^ "Bailout Roll Call" (PDF). 2008-09-29. http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/29/bailout.rollcall.0929.pdf. Retrieved September 29, 2008.
- ^ "Bailout Senate Amendment Roll Call". 2008-10-03. http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2008/roll681.xml. Retrieved October 3, 2008.
- ^ Hannity's America: Department of Labor Rolls Back on Unions by Sean Hannity
- ^ "Ackerman saves the day". The Hill. 2006-01-05. http://thehill.com/homenews/news/5839-rules-take-that-mr-jefferson. Third story on page Retrieved on Jul. 24, 2009
- ^ "Use of Koran in oath splits conservatives". Baptist Press. 2007-01-09. http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=24733. Retrieved on Feb. 28, 2007
- ^ Wayne S. Smith (March 19, 2008). "Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz allegiance in question". South Florida Sun Sentinel. http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/opinion/sfl-forum19wassermansbmar19,0,3730308.story. Retrieved March 20, 2008.
- ^ Lesley Clark, "Democrats torn between party, GOP friends", Miami Herald, March 8, 2008.
- ^ http://www.democrats.org/news/blog/breaking_news_debbie_wasserman_schultz_elected_dnc_chair
- ^ Kessler, Glenn (2011-06-01). "Wasserman Schultz’s bogus claim that the GOP Medicare plan will ‘throw you to the wolves’". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/wasserman-schultzs-bogus-claim-that-the-gop-medicare-plan-will-throw-you-to-the-wolves/2011/05/31/AG8y9lFH_blog.html. Retrieved 2011-06-01.
- ^ Ball, Molly (2011-06-10). "Debbie Wasserman Schultz has rocky DNC start". Politico. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0611/56666.html. Retrieved 2011-06-10.
- ^ Stewart, Rebecca (2011-06-06). "DNC chair Wasserman Schultz under fire for Jim Crow comments". CNN. http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2011/06/06/dnc-chair-wasserman-schultz-under-fire-for-jim-crow-comments/. Retrieved 2011-06-10.
- ^ "Debbie Wasserman Schultz." Marquis Who's Who TM. Marquis Who's Who, 2009. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale, 2009. (http://www.galenet.com/servlet/BioRC). Fee via Fairfax County Public Library, accessed 2009-04-25. Document Number: K2014090239.
- Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz official U.S. House site
- Debbie Wasserman Schultz for Congress official campaign site
- Biography at WhoRunsGov.com at The Washington Post
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Voting record maintained by The Washington Post
- Biography, voting record, and interest group ratings at Project Vote Smart
- Congressional profile at GovTrack
- Congressional profile at OpenCongress
- Issue positions and quotes at On The Issues
- Current Bills Sponsored at StateSurge.com
- Financial information at OpenSecrets.org
- Staff salaries, trips and personal finance at LegiStorm.com
- Campaign finance reports and data at the Federal Election Commission
- Campaign contributions at the National Institute for Money in State Politics
- Appearances on C-SPAN programs
Florida House of Representatives Preceded by
Member of the Florida House of Representatives
from the 97th district
Florida Senate Preceded by
Howard C. Forman
Florida State Senator from the 32nd district
Walter Campbell, Jr.
Florida State Senator from the 34th district
United States House of Representatives Preceded by
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 20th congressional district
Incumbent Party political offices Preceded by
Vice Chairman of the Democratic National Committee
Served alongside: Raymond Buckley, Donna Brazile,
Linda Chavez-Thompson, and Mike Honda
Vacant Preceded by
Chairman of the Democratic National Committee
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United States Representatives by seniority
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Nancy Pelosi (Leader)
Steny Hoyer (Whip)
Jim Clyburn (Assistant Leader)
John Lewis (Senior Chief Deputy Majority Whip)
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, G. K. Butterfield, Joseph Crowley, Diana DeGette, Ed Pastor, Jan Schakowsky, Maxine Waters, Jim Matheson (Chief Deputy Whips)
John Larson (Caucus Chairman)
Xavier Becerra (Caucus Vice-Chairman)
Steve Israel (Campaign Committee Chairman)
Rosa DeLauro, George Miller (Steering/Policy Committee Co-Chairs)
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