Public Office: Member of Congress, 1990 to present
Current Position: Member of Congress, 3rd Congressional District
Background: DeLauro, in her tenth term in Congress, is a key member of the Democratic leadership – she is co-chair of the Democratic Caucus’s House Steering and Policy Committee, and chair of the Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee, which oversees the budgets of the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other agencies. But far from a national household name, she also flies somewhat under the radar, a testament to her background as a political operator and organizer.
She was chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd for seven years, took over a group that fought U.S. aid to the Nicaraguan contras and was the first director of Emily’s List, a powerhouse fundraising organization for pro-choice women running for office.
DeLauro is passionate with a rapid-fire talking style and has a staunchly liberal voting record. She is an ardent feminist, who has long supported women’s equity measures such as equal pay for equal work. She was a force behind the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009 and introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act also in 2009.
Her survival from what was believed to have been salmonella as a 2-year old and cancer as an adult arguably formed the basis for two other legislative passions: food safety and healthcare reform. She was part of the team that reconciled the House and Senate versions of health reform. It was her measure to require nutrition postings in most restaurants that made it into the final bill. She has introduced legislation that would guarantee a three-day hospital stay for breast cancer patients.
She co-founded the Congressional Food Safety Caucus to explore ways to secure the food supply and has introduced many pieces of legislation aimed at food safety including the Food Safety Modernization Act that would have consolidated food safety oversight into one new agency under Health and Human Services instead of the present system that spreads them among 15, including the FDA. This summer she introduced legislation to upgrade federal meat inspection.
She has also been a strong voice for children’s and other nutrition programs.
In August, she reluctantly voted in favor of a $26 billion emergency aid package for cash-strapped states that derived some of its funding from cuts to the federal food stamp program – a situation she called a “Sophie’s Choice.” “This is a bitter pill to swallow,” DeLauro said in a statement before the vote. “But I know that states across the nation and my own state of Connecticut also desperately need these resources to save jobs and avoid draconian cuts to essential services for low income families.”
A strong anti-war voice, DeLauro opposed the use of force in Iraq and has been wary of policies in Afghanistan. In July, she joined colleague John Larson in voting against $59 billion to fund the wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq. She favored setting a timeline and exit strategy for Afghanistan as well as supporting a more far-reaching proposal that would have restricted use of the war funds only to draw down U.S. forces, not for further military combat.
Recently she has also introduced the National Infrastructure Development Act to create jobs through infrastructure projects.
Her seat in the 3rd District is viewed as relatively safe: She won re-election in 2008 with 78 percent of the vote.
Education: B.A., Marymount College; M.A., Columbia University, London School of Economics
Personal: DeLauro, 67, is one half of a political power couple. She is married to well-known Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg, president of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research whose clients have included Bill Clinton. DeLauro and Greenberg have three children and four grandchildren and live in New Haven.