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Profile of Sen. Patty Murray of Washington

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Profile of Sen. Patty Murray of Washington

Chris Joseph Taylor: Getty Images

Patty Murray in the U.S. Senate:

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington was reelected to the Senate in 2010. She was first elected senator in 1992. Sen. Murray is a down-to-earth champion for policies to help middle-class Americans.

Sen. Murray is an effective, hard-working senior member of two powerful Senate committees, Appropriations and Budget, and chairs the Veterans' Affairs Committee. She also serves as Democratic Senate Caucus Conference Secretary.

On August 8, 2011, she was appointed as the powerful co-chair of the the Congressional "super-committee" tasked with recommending another $1.5 trillion in federal budget cuts.

Political Career Began When Told She Could Not Make a Difference:

As a young stay-at-home mother in the early 1980s, "Murray was volunteering at a state-funded cooperative preschool when she learned that the legislature was going to cancel the program's funding. Murray drove with the kids 72 miles to Olympia to complain.

"But when she met with a legislator, she says, 'I was told that I could not make a difference, that I was just a mom in tennis shoes.' She took that as a challenge. 'A mom in tennis shoes has as much right to make policy as these guys in tasseled shoes," says Murray, who enlisted friends and made enough calls to restore funding.'" --- People magazine, Dec 3, 2001

Major Areas of Interest:

Sen. Murray remains an activist on education, womens' and children's issues, and has considerable expertise on transportation, environmental, border and port security, health care reform, and veteran's issues.

In 2002, Murray was one of 23 senators who voted NO on the Iraq War. She also voted for the 2006 Kennedy-McCain immigration reform bill. Sen. Murray repeatedly introduced legislation eventually signed by President Bush to establish a federally protected wilderness area in the Washington Cascade Range.

Sen. Murray has been an staunch advocate for veterans' health care, benefits, education and housing assistance.

Senate Committees in 112th Congress:

  • Appropriations Committee
  • Appropriations subcommittee - Transportation, Housing, Urban Development (Chair)
  • Appropriations subcommittee - Defense
  • Appropriations subcommittee - Homeland Security
  • Appropriations subcommittee - Labor, Education, Health and Human Services
  • Appropriations subcommittee - Energy and Water Development
  • Veterans' Affairs Committee (Chair)
  • Health, Education, Labor, Pensions Committee
  • Health, Education, Labor subcommittee - Employment and Workplace Safety (Chair)
  • Health, Education, Labor subcommittee - Children and Families
  • Budget Committee
  • Rules and Administration Committee

Prior Experience:

  • Late 1970s - Stay-at-home mother of two children, born in 1976, 1979

  • Early 1980s - Volunteer preschool teacher and local political activist fighting education funding cutbacks

  • 1982 - Elected to local school board, where she eventually served as President

  • 1988 - Elected to Washington State Senate. Helped pass one of the first state family-leave laws.

  • 1992 - Elected to the U.S. Senate

Personal Data:

  • Birth - October 11, 1950 in Bothell, Washington, one of seven children born to David and Beverly Johns. Twin sister Peggy Zehnde is an elementary school teacher.

    David, a small store owner, earned a Purple Heart during World War II. After he contracted multiple sclerosis in 1966, Beverly supported the family by bookkeeping.

  • Education - Bothell, Washington public schools. B.A. in physical education, 1972, Washington State University.

  • Family - Married in 1972 to Rob Murray. Two adult, married children, Randy Murray and Sara Murray Bhagat. One young grandson, Aidan Murray.

  • Faith - Roman Catholic

  • Interests - fishing, hiking

On the Issues:

On Social Security

"Social Security is a basic American value. It is a promise that if you work hard, you will have some security when you retire or if you become disabled. It is a safety net to keep seniors out of financial poverty. And it is a pledge that if your spouse or parent passes on, you will continue to have the support and security you need."

On Fighting for U.S. Soldiers and Veterans

"I strongly believe that Congress must act as a watchdog to ensure our service members are getting the services, benefits, medical care, and family support they have earned, especially as thousands of troops return from battle suffering from devastating physical and psychological injuries.

"I have pushed the military and the VA to update their mental health care and suicide-prevention services. I helped lead the fight to improve conditions and services at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and other military hospitals.

"And I fought hard with my Senate colleagues to update education and training benefits for returning service members by passing the most sweeping changes to the G.I. Bill in 40 years."

On Affordable Health Care for All Americans

"Ensuring that everyone can have access to quality, affordable health care is one of the most critical challenges facing our state and our nation. While Washington has always been a leader in this area, we face a health care crisis in our country. Costs are out of control, and too many working families and seniors still cannot get the care they need. Working to help fix the national health care crisis is one of my top priorities."

On U.S. Energy Policies

"Our nation is faced with a growing global demand for energy, a severe reliance upon fossil fuels, high energy prices, and environmental concerns surrounding many of our current energy supplies.

"I believe it will take American innovation and smart policies that encourage conservation, energy efficiency, and increase renewable energy research and development to address this critical issue and create a comprehensive national energy policy."

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