Cathy McMorris Rodgers (born May 22, 1969) is the U.S. Representative for Washington's 5th congressional district, serving since 2005. The district, based in Spokane, includes most of the eastern third of the state. She is a member of the Republican Party.
She is one of two female U.S. Representatives from her state, the other being Jaime Herrera Beutler, who worked as a legislative analyst for McMorris Rodgers in her first term. She is the highest ranking Republican woman in the Congress, serving as the Vice-Chairman of the House Republican Conference (caucus).
With her appointment in 2008 to that post, Washington's 5th Congressional District has the distinction of being one of the few districts in the country to have been home to two high-ranking members of Congress from both parties: former Democratic House Speaker Tom Foley in 1989-95 and now McMorris Rodgers. She has been mentioned as a potential vice presidential candidate in the 2012 U.S. presidential election.
Early life, education and career
Cathy McMorris Rodgers was born in Salem, Oregon on May 22, 1969 and raised on a farm. She worked in the family owned and operated business, the Peachcrest Fruit Basket Orchard and Fruit Stand, in Kettle Falls, Washington for 13 years. She is the descendant of pioneers who traveled the Oregon Trail in the early 1850s to the Pacific Northwest where her father's family pursued agriculture and her mother's family worked in the forestry industry.
McMorris Rodgers has one brother, Jeff McMorris, who served as her campaign manager in 2004.
In 1990 McMorris Rodgers earned a BA in Pre-law from Pensacola Christian College and earned her Executive MBA from the University of Washington in 2002.
She married retired naval Commander Brian Rodgers in 2006; they have two children.
Washington House of Representatives
McMorris was first elected to the Washington House of Representatives in 1994, representing the 7th Legislative district (parts or all of the counties of Ferry, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Spokane and Stevens). She was re-elected four times and served in office through January 2005. From 2002-2003, she served as House Minority Leader, the top leadership post for the House Republicans. She was the first woman to lead a House Caucus, and the youngest since World War II. She chaired the House Commerce and Labor Committee, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee, and the State Government Committee. She stepped down as minority leader in 2003 after announcing her bid for Congress.
During her tenure in the legislature, she lived in Colville; she has since moved to Spokane.
U.S. House of Representatives
Freshman term 2005-2007
McMorris Rodgers joined the Republican Study Committee, a caucus of conservative House Republicans.
Her committee assignments included Armed Services, Natural Resources, and Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans, Education and Labor, Speaker’s High-Tech Working, and Chairwoman of the National Task Force on Improving the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
McMorris Rodgers also served as the Freshman Class representative on the Steering Committee and on the Republican Whip Team.
McMorris Rodgers was selected to serve as the Chairwoman of the National Task Force on Improving the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA.) She oversaw the NEPA hearings across the country, reviewing the current implementation of the Act. NEPA has broad economic impacts through permitting and study requirements for transportation, public works projects, important oil and gas development, healthy forests, mining, grazing and other federal projects.
She actively supports missions to protect and expand Fairchild Air Force Base and worked to keep the base off the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) list. McMorris Rodgers co-introduced health information technology (IT) legislation and is co-leading a statewide health IT task force to position Washington state for future health IT advancements with Congressman Adam Smith, D-WA. McMorris Rodgers sponsored the American Competitiveness Amendment to the College Access and Opportunity Act. The bi-partisan amendment takes steps to improve math, science, and critical foreign language education.
Sophomore term 2007-2009
In 2007, McMorris Rodgers became the Republican co-chairwoman of the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues.
The Democrat co-chairwoman is Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif. The caucus has pushed for pay equity, tougher child support enforcement, women's health programs and law protecting victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
McMorris Rodgers co-founded the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus with Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX) Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy (D-RI), and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).
Third term 2009-2011
On November 19, 2008, McMorris Rodgers was elected to serve as the Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference for the 111th United States Congress, making her the fourth highest ranking Republican in her caucus leadership (after John Boehner, Minority Whip Eric Cantor and Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence) and the highest-ranking Republican woman.
In 2004 McMorris received 59.7% of the vote in an open seat, defeating Democratic hotel magnate Don Barbieri. The district had come open when five-term incumbent George Nethercutt ran unsuccessfully for United States Senate.
During her campaign, she gained endorsements from the following: Washington State Law Enforcement Association, Washington State Farm Bureau, Association of Washington Businesses, Western Fish & Wildlife Federation, Washington Property Rights Alliance, Associated Builders and Contractors, United States Chamber of Commerce.
In November 2006 McMorris Rodgers won re-election with 56.4% of the vote and her Democratic challenger Peter J.
Goldmark earned 43.6%.
Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers received a 100% rating from the American Veterans and the Vietnam Veterans of America for votes during the 109th Congress. The Veterans of Foreign Wars released a list of veteran’s accomplishments during the 109th Congress, all of which were supported by McMorris including: ensuring sufficient funding for the Veterans Health Care Administration, ensuring the VA disability compensation program is preserved in its current form, securing authority and full funding for the G.I. Bill for the 21st century, and authorizing a program entitling disabled military retirees to full military retirement pay and disability compensation without offset.
She won the 2010 general election with 64% of the vote, against Democrat Daryl Romeyn. Romeyn spent only $2,320 against Mrs. Rodgers' total outlay of $1,453,240. She had won 63% of the primary vote, against Romeyn (12%), and three other opponents (respectively 9%, 6%, and 6%.)
On 5 August 2006 in San Diego, Cathy McMorris married Brian Rodgers, a retired Navy commander and a Spokane, Washington native. Rodgers is a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and the son of David Rodgers, the mayor of Spokane from 1967 to 1977. In April 2007, she became the first member of Congress in more than a decade to give birth while in office, with the birth of Cole McMorris Rodgers. The couple later announced their child was diagnosed with Down syndrome. In August 2010, McMorris Rodgers announced via her Facebook page that she expected another child; Grace was born December 2010, making her mother the first member of Congress to give birth twice while in office.
She enjoys playing the piano, swimming, and reading American history. Cathy says she lives by former President Ronald Reagan's motto (quoting Harry Truman's remark about his Marshall Plan): "There's no limit to what a person can do or where one can go if one doesn't mind who gets the credit."
March 9, 2012