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Profile of Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan


Profile of Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan

Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan:

Debbie Stabenow of Michigan was first elected senator in 2000 in a bitter contest with the incumbent Republican. Sen. Stabenow was reelected in 2006 and 2012 to the U.S. Senate.

Sen. Stabenow is a skilled legislator, tenacious advocate for her causes, hard-worker and articulate speaker with smooth-edged, friendly style. She's unafraid to dissent, and was one of 23 senators to vote against the Iraq War in 2002.

Recently Notable:

In November 2004, Senator Stabenow was elected by her colleagues to be the third-ranking Democrat in the US Senate, as secretary of the Democratic caucus for the 109th Congress. This is an unprecedented honor for a freshman Senator, and a testament to her strong leadership skills.

Major Areas of Interest:

Senator Stabenow campaigned for the Senate by committing to work to maintain Social Security benefits, to force the pharmaceutical industry to lower prescription drug prices and to give Medicare a better prescription drug program. She's top-rated for her pro-labor, pro-peace, pro-public education, pro-choice and pro-public health voting record. She's been an avid fighter to preserve the environmental beauty of Michigan, and to prevent oil-drilling under the Great Lakes.

Senate Committees in 112th Congress, 2011-2012:

  • Budget Committee
  • Finance Committee
  • Finance Subcommittee on International Trade
  • Finance Subcommittee on Health Care
  • Finance Subcommittee on Taxation, IRS Oversight, Long-Term Growth
  • Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry Committee
  • Agriculture Subcommittee on Rural Revitalization, Conservation & Forestry, Chair
  • Energy & Natural Resources Committee

Prior Experience:

Debbie Stabenow first won election, to the Ingham County Board of Commissioners, while still a graduate student. She served there from 1975-78, while employed as a social worker. She was next in the Michigan House of Representatives from 1979-90, becoming the first woman to preside over the House. She then served from 1990-94 in the Michigan State Senate, then was elected to Congress in 1994, where she served 2 terms.

Personal Data:

  • Birth - April 20, 1950 in Gladwin, Michigan
  • Education - BA, Michigan State University in 1972, Masters of Social Work, Michigan State University in 1975
  • Family - Married her second husband, Tom Athans, a liberal talk-show radio executive, in 2003. Two adult children, one adult stepdaughter
  • Faith - Christian, United Methodist Church
Debbie Stabenow is a lifelong Michigan resident. She grew up in Clare, Michigan, where her grandfather and father owned the town Olds/Cadillac dealership. She remains partial to Oldsmobiles, but has a Cadillac Catera in Washington.

Interesting Personal Note:

"I love music" exclaims Senator Stabenow. "Music is one of the most important pieces in my life." She played clarinet in high school and took piano lessons for 8 years. To support herself in college, she sang and played guitar as half of a local folk duo, "Dave and Debbie." Her favorite performers are Barbra Streisand and Bonnie Raitt, and she remembers every word on Carole KIng's "Tapestry" album.

Staying in Touch with Michigan:

"Washington is an exciting place...but I come home almost every weekend to keep myself grounded. It's very important that the members of Congress not begin to view Washington as home. I bank here in Lansing, my dry cleaning's here, my car's here. This is home. That gives me the right perspective."

Memorable Quotes:

"The Bush tax cuts will remove 14 trillion dollars from the national budget over the next 75 years. The entire liability of Social Security and Medicare put together is 10 trillion."

"There is nothing more American than to dissent from your government. That's what this country was founded on."

"The pharmaceutical industry is making up to 20 percent net profit each year---unfortunately on the backs of families, seniors and businesses. There are 6 prescription lobbyists for every US Senator. So we're gong to create a coalition where individuals, seniors, families, farmers---everybody that's affected---can join together and solve the problem."

"Tricia and Calvin Luker did a commercial for me during the campaign which talked about what happened to their daughter---she had problems with an HMO and she died. I'd promised them that I'd take Jessica's picture with me to the Senate and keep it on my desk until we passed the Patient's Bill of Rights. We did pass it, but it's not become law yet. I still have the photo on my desk, and I think one of the most touching moments for me was when Calvin and Tricia came in after we passed the bill---they were so excited, they really felt that this was something that they'd helped to get done."

"Privatizing Social Security doesn't make sense, and it's out of step with the fundamental value of ensuring that after a life spent working hard and contributing to the greatness of our nation, every American should have a secure retirement."

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