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Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Debbie Wasserman Schultz official photo.jpg
Co-Chair of the House Democratic Steering Committee
Assumed office
January 3, 2023
Serving with Dan Kildee
Leader Hakeem Jeffries
Preceded by Cheri Bustos
Eric Swalwell
Barbara Lee
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida
Assumed office
January 3, 2005
Preceded by Peter Deutsch
Constituency 20th district (2005–2013)
23rd district (2013–2023)
25th district (2023–present)
Chair of the Democratic National Committee
In office
May 4, 2011 – July 28, 2016
Preceded by Tim Kaine
Succeeded by Tom Perez
Member of the Florida Senate
In office
November 7, 2000 – November 2, 2004
Preceded by Howard Forman
Succeeded by Nan Rich
Constituency 32nd district (2000–2002)
34th district (2002–2004)
Member of the Florida House of Representatives
from the 97th district
In office
November 3, 1992 – November 7, 2000
Preceded by Redistricted
Succeeded by Nan Rich
Personal details
Deborah Wasserman

(1966-09-27) September 27, 1966 (age 57)
New York City, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Steve Schultz
(m. 1991)
Children 3
Education University of Florida (AB, AM)

Deborah Wasserman Schultz (/ˈwɑːsərmən/; born September 27, 1966) is an American politician serving as the U.S. representative for Florida's 25th congressional district, first elected to Congress in 2004. A member of the Democratic Party, she is a former chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Personal life and education

Born in Forest Hills, Queens, New York, to a Jewish family, she is the daughter of Ann and Larry Wasserman. Her father is a Certified Public Accountant, and her brother Steven Wasserman is an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia.

From 1968 to 1978, the family lived in Lido Beach on Long Island. In 1978, her family moved to Melville, also on Long Island, where she graduated from Half Hollow Hills High School East in 1984. She received a Bachelor of Arts in 1988 and a Master of Arts with a certificate in political campaigning in 1990, both in political science, from the University of Florida.

At the University of Florida, Wasserman Schultz was active in student government, serving as president of the Student Senate and the 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. She served as president of the Graduate Student Council and vice president of the UF College Democrats. She has credited her experience in student politics with developing her "love for politics and the political process."

Wasserman Schultz lives in Weston, near Fort Lauderdale. She is married to Steve Schultz; they have three children.

In March 2009, she revealed that she had undergone 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.


Florida state legislature

Sue Gunzburger, Steve Geller, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Wasserman Schultz with Suzanne Gunzburger and Steven Geller in April 2002

In 1988, Wasserman Schultz became an aide to Peter Deutsch at the beginning of his state legislative career. In 1992, Deutsch successfully ran for United States Representative of Florida's 20th congressional district, and suggested to Wasserman Schultz that she run for his vacated seat in the Florida House of Representatives. Wasserman Schultz won 53% of the vote in a six-way Democratic primary, avoiding a runoff, and won the general election. At 26, she became the youngest female legislator in the state's history.

She served four terms in the Florida State House of Representatives, for eight years, leaving due to state term limits. She became an adjunct instructor of political science at Broward Community College, as well as a public policy curriculum specialist at Nova Southeastern University.

Wasserman Schultz was elected to the Florida State Senate in 2000. She supported 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 as a state senator in the 2002 legislative session to manatee protection.

U.S. House of Representatives

Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Christina Ricci
Wasserman Schultz with Christina Ricci in April 2007

Committee assignments

For the 118th Congress:

  • Committee on Appropriations
    • Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
    • Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies
    • Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (Ranking Member)
  • Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government

Caucus memberships

  • Congressional Solar Caucus
  • New Democrat Coalition
  • Congressional Arts Caucus
  • Afterschool Caucus
  • United States Congressional International Conservation Caucus

Party leadership

  • Chief Deputy Whip

Wasserman Schultz was appointed to the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee in her first term. During the 2006 elections, she raised over $17 million in campaign contributions for her Democratic colleagues (third-most after Nancy Pelosi and Rahm Emanuel), was chosen as Chief Deputy Whip, and was appointed to the Appropriations Committee, a plum assignment for a sophomore representative.

Wasserman Schultz chairs the committee's Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies. Shortly after joining the Appropriations Committee, she received a waiver necessary to sit on an additional committee (Appropriations is typically an exclusive committee), and she is now a member of the Committee on Oversight and Reform. Aside from her committee and leadership roles, she was a member of Nancy Pelosi's "30 Something" Working Group, which consists of congressional Democrats mostly under age 40. The group concentrates on issues affecting young people, including Social Security. She joined the bipartisan Congressional Cuba Democracy Caucus. According to the 2008 Power Rankings, she was the 24th-most powerful member of the House, the 22nd-most powerful Democratic representative, and the most powerful Florida representative.

In December 2019, Wasserman Schultz voted to impeach President Donald Trump.

Political positions

Wasserman Schultz supports gun control legislation and the LGBT community. She initiated the 2007 Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act. In 2011, Wasserman Schultz was one of the 23 co-sponsors of H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

On April 25, 2018, 57 members of the House of Representatives, including Wasserman Schultz, condemned history-related legislation in Ukraine and Poland. They criticized Poland's new Holocaust law, which they argued would criminalize accusing Poles of complicity in the Holocaust, and Ukraine's 2015 memory laws glorifying Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and its pro-Nazi leaders, such as Roman Shukhevych.

During the 117th Congress, Wasserman Schultz voted with President Joe Biden's stated position 100% of the time according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis.

Consumer Finance Protection Bureau and payday lending

In December 2015, Wasserman Schultz was one of 24 co-sponsors of H.R. 4018, authored by Representative Dennis A. Ross, which would delay the implementation of CFPB regulations. She was among a dozen Florida representatives who cosponsored the legislation that would delay the CFPB's payday lending rules by two years and void a "deferred presentment transaction" in states with laws similar to Florida's. She has drawn criticism for trying to delay those regulations.

Terri Schiavo case

The Terri Schiavo case concerned the fate of a young Florida woman who had suffered brain damage after a heart attack in 1990 and was in a coma on life support. Her husband, who was her legal guardian while engaged to another woman, and the medical team wanted to remove her feeding tube, as she was in a "persistent vegetative state" with no hope of improvement. Her parents opposed this decision for years, appealing to courts, Congress, and ultimately to President George W. Bush to intervene. Wasserman Schultz was one of the strongest opponents of congressional intervention, supporting the husband's view. The feeding tube was removed in 2005, resulting in Schiavo's death.

Wasserman Schultz publicly accused Bush of hypocrisy for having signed 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.

Israeli–Palestinian conflict

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. In 2005 she spoke in approval of President Bush's proposals to give financial aid to the Palestinian Authority in both the proposed supplemental and in the 2006 budgets.

Wasserman Schultz is a supporter of Israel.

Presidential signing statements

Wasserman Schultz supports the use of appropriations for future control of presidential signing statements as revealed during questions in a July 26, 2008, House Judiciary Committee hearing on the constitutional limits of executive power.

Representation Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Debbie Wasserman Schultz receives award from Plantation Democratic Club President Marvin Quittner, May 5, 2013.

Jewish American Heritage Month

Wasserman Schultz is Florida's first female Jewish member of Congress.

She and Senator Arlen Specter were the driving forces behind the resolution that declared 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", saying, "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 was signed by President George W. Bush.

2008 financial crisis

On September 29, 2008, Wasserman Schultz voted for the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, and on October 3, 2008, for the revised version of that act.

Identity theft

On February 15, 2013, Wasserman Schultz introduced the Stopping Tax Offenders and Prosecuting Identity Theft Act of 2013 (H.R. 744; 113th Congress) into the House. The bill would increase the penalties on identity thieves and change the definition of identity theft to include businesses and organizations instead of just individuals.

Gun control

In 2018, Wasserman Schultz co-sponsored a bill to "strengthen school safety and security", which required a two-thirds vote for passage, given it was brought up under an expedited process. The House voted 407–10 to approve the bill, which would "provide $50 million a year for a new federal grant program to train students, teachers and law enforcement on how to spot and report signs of gun violence". Named the STOP (Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing) School Violence Act, it would "develop anonymous telephone and online systems where people could report threats of violence." At the same time, it would authorize $25 million for schools to improve and harden their security, such as installing new locks, lights, metal detectors and panic buttons." A separate spending bill would be required to provide money for the grant program.

Chair of the Democratic National Committee

DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz speaks to College Democrats
Chair Wasserman Schultz speaking to the College Democrats of America

On April 5, 2011, President Barack Obama chose Wasserman Schultz to succeed Tim Kaine as the 52nd chair of the Democratic National Committee. Until she assumed office, Donna Brazile served as interim DNC chair. Wasserman Schultz was confirmed at a May 4 DNC meeting in Washington, D.C.

During an appearance on Face the Nation, Wasserman Schultz said, "The Republicans have a plan to end Medicare as we know it. What they would do is they would take the people who are younger than 55 years old today and tell them, 'You know what? You're on your own. Go and find private health insurance in the health-care insurance market.'" Four nonpartisan fact-checkers called her claim false. She then came under criticism for saying on Washington Watch with Roland Martin, "You have the Republicans, who want to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws and literally—and very transparently—block access to the polls to voters who are more likely to vote for Democratic candidates than Republican candidates". The next day, she said that "Jim Crow was the wrong analogy to use".

In 2012, many of Obama's advisers questioned the move to select Wasserman Schultz as DNC chair, feeling she came across as too partisan on television. An internal focus study of the popularity of top Obama campaign surrogates ranked Wasserman Schultz at the bottom. In February 2015, Politico, citing unnamed sources, reported that Wasserman Schultz had lined up supporters in 2013 to portray any decision by Obama to replace her as DNC chair as "anti-woman and anti-Semitic".

In 2011, she missed 62 votes of Congress, placing her 45th of 535 in missing Congressional votes.


On July 28, 2016, Schultz resigned from that position after WikiLeaks released leaked emails showing that she and other members of the DNC staff had favored Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primaries in exchange for funding to eliminate the DNC's remaining debt from the 2012 presidential campaign.


  • 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.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Debbie Wasserman Schultz para niños

  • List of Jewish members of the United States Congress
  • Women in the United States House of Representatives
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