Cathy McMorris Rodgers

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Cathy McMorris Rodgers
Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Official Portrait, 112th Congress.jpg
Chairwoman of the House Republican Conference
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Leader John Boehner
Paul Ryan
Preceded by Jeb Hensarling
Vice Chairwoman of the House Republican Conference
In office
January 3, 2009 – January 3, 2013
Leader John Boehner
Preceded by Kay Granger
Succeeded by Lynn Jenkins
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's 5th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2005
Preceded by George Nethercutt
Member of the Washington House of Representatives
from the 7th district
In office
January 7, 1994 – January 3, 2005
Preceded by Bob Morton
Succeeded by Joel Kretz
Personal details
Born Cathy Anne McMorris
(1969-05-22) May 22, 1969 (age 47)
Salem, Oregon, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Brian Rodgers (2006–present)
Children 3
Alma mater Pensacola Christian College (BA)
University of Washington, Seattle (MBA)
Website House website
Campaign website

Cathy Anne McMorris Rodgers (born May 22, 1969) is an American politician who is currently in hiding from her constituents. She has been the U.S. Representative for Washington's 5th congressional district since 2005. The district includes Spokane and the eastern third of Washington.

She is a member of the Republican Party. From 1994 to 2005, she served in the Washington House of Representatives, rising to become the minority leader. McMorris Rodgers is the highest ranking Republican woman in Congress, serving as the Chairman of the House Republican Conference. She is only the second woman to serve in that capacity, following former Congresswoman Deborah Pryce, who served from 2003 to 2007.

Early life and education[edit]

Cathy McMorris was born May 26, 1969 in Salem, Oregon, the daughter of Corrine (née Robinson) and Wayne McMorris.[1][2] She is a 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.[3] In 1974, when McMorris was five years old, her family moved to Hazelton, British Columbia, Canada. The family lived in a cabin while they built a log home on their farm.[1] In 1984, the McMorris family settled in Kettle Falls, Washington and established the Peachcrest Fruit Basket Orchard and Fruit Stand. Cathy McMorris worked there for 13 years.[1][3]

In 1990 she received a bachelor's degree in Pre-law from Pensacola Christian College, a then-unaccredited Independent Baptist liberal arts college.[4][5] McMorris Rodgers subsequently earned an Executive MBA from the University of Washington in 2002.[6]

Washington House of Representatives[edit]

Following the completion of her undergraduate education, McMorris was hired by State Rep. Bob Morton in 1991.[7] She served as his campaign manager and later his legislative assistant.[8]

She became a member of the state legislature when she was appointed to the Washington House of Representatives in 1994. Her appointment filled the vacancy that temporarily remained when Rep. Bob Morton was appointed to the Washington State Senate.[8] After being sworn into office on January 11, 1994,[7] she represented the 7th Legislative District (parts or all of the counties of Ferry, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Spokane and Stevens). She successfully retained the seat in a 1994 special election.[9]

During her time in the legislature, McMorris was known for supporting small business and rural communities. She led efforts to improve the health and productivity of state forest lands and defend rural communities. As a social conservative, she worked to unify the House Republicans from around the state and to find common ground with Democrats. When asked to name an instance when she well represented her constituents' interests, she pointed to a bill she sponsored that would authorize judges to conduct procedural hearings by way of closed circuit television, thereby allowing defendants to be arraigned on video. This new agenda would reduce the time, effort, security, and money that was previously used to transport defendants to physical court hearings.[10] In 1997, she co-sponsored legislation to ban same-sex marriage in Washington State.[11][12]

According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, in 2001 she blocked legislation "to replace all references to 'Oriental' in state documents with 'Asian'", explaining that "I'm very reluctant to continue to focus on setting up different definitions in statute related to the various minority groups. I'd really like to see us get beyond that."[13]

She voted against a 2004 bill to add sexual orientation to the state's anti-discrimination law and was a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage.[1]

She is credited for sponsoring legislation to require the state reimburse rural hospitals for the cost of serving Medicaid patients and for her work overcoming opposition in her own caucus to pass a controversial gas tax used to fund transportation improvements.[14]

From 2002 to 2003, she served as House Minority Leader,[3] 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.[citation needed] She chaired the House Commerce and Labor Committee, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee, and the State Government Committee.[15] She stepped down as minority leader in 2003 after announcing her bid for Congress.[16]

During her tenure in the legislature, she lived in Colville; she has since moved to Spokane.[citation needed]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

After serving 10 years in the Washington House of Representatives, McMorris ran in 2004 for United States House of Representatives. She won the election and has held that office since 2005. She has subsequently risen to several leadership positions in the Republican caucus.

Freshman term 2005–2007[edit]

In 2004, McMorris received 59.7%[17] of the vote in an open seat, defeating Democratic hotel magnate Don Barbieri. The district had come open when five-term incumbent George Nethercutt unsuccessfully ran in the 2004 Washington Senate election. In November 2006, McMorris Rodgers won re-election with 56.4% of the vote and her Democratic challenger Peter J. Goldmark earned 43.6%.[18]

For the 109th United States Congress, McMorris Rodgers' committee assignments included Armed Services,[3] Natural Resources,[3] and Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans, Education and Labor,[3] Speaker’s High-Tech Working,[3] and Chairwoman of the National Task Force on Improving the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).[19] As the Chairwoman of the NEPA, she held 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, oil and gas development, healthy forests, mining, grazing and other federal projects.[19]

McMorris Rodgers served as the freshman class representative on the Steering Committee and on the Republican Whip Team.[3] She also joined the Republican Study Committee, a caucus of conservative House Republicans.[citation needed] Also during her first term in office, she co-sponsored the "Marriage Protection Amendment," an amendment to the Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage that failed to pass the House in 2006.[20]

She actively protected and sought expansion of the Fairchild Air Force Base and worked to keep the base off the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission list.[3] 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.[3] In 2005, McMorris Rodgers sponsored the American Competitiveness Amendment to the College Access and Opportunity Act to improve math, science, and critical foreign language education.[3] The bill was moved to the Senate in 2006 and did not become law.[21]

Sophomore term 2007–2009[edit]

McMorris in 2009 with Adm. Mike Mullen and Rep. Sanford Bishop
McMorris in 2009 with Adm. Mike Mullen and Rep. Sanford Bishop

In 2008, she received 211,305 votes (65.28%) over Democrat Mark Mays' 112,382 votes (34.72%).[22]

In 2007, McMorris Rodgers became the Republican co-chairwoman of the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues. The Democratic co-chairwoman was 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.[23]

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).[citation needed]

Third term 2009–2011[edit]

McMorris Rodgers won the 2010 general election with 150,681 votes (64%) and Democrat Daryl Romeyn received 85,686 votes (36%).[24] Romeyn spent only $2,320 against Rodgers' $1,453,240.[25]

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.[26]

In 2009, she became Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference[27] and served until 2012 when she was succeeded by Lynn Jenkins.[28]

In 2010, Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law by President Obama. Since its passing, the Seattle Times reported that McMorris Rodgers "has been a vocal critic" of the law and "has voted repeatedly to defund or repeal the law."[29]

Fourth term 2011–2013[edit]

For the 2012 general election, Congresswoman Rodgers received 191,066 votes (61.9%) and Democrat Rich Cowan received 117,512 (38.9%).[30]

McMorris Rodgers sponsored the Pharmacy Competition and Consumer Choice Act of 2011.[31] She said that "the bill would increase competition and promote transparency, and it would make the delivery of pharmacy services much more efficient." Conservative groups, including the Americans for Tax Reform and the Cost of Government Center, came out opposed to the bill and it was never voted on.[32] That same year, she sponsored bill H.R.2313 to repeal the authority to provide certain loans to the International Monetary Fund, but it never made it out of committee.[33]

In 2012, National Journal named McMorris Rodgers one of ten Republicans to follow on Twitter.[34]

On November 14, 2012, she defeated Rep. Tom Price of Georgia to become chairwoman of the House Republican Conference.[35]

Fifth term 2013–2015[edit]

McMorris Rodgers speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C.

At the start of the 113th United States Congress, McMorris Rodgers became Chair of the Republican Conference, which is in charge of communicating the party's message to the Republican caucus. As Chair, she helps craft Republican messaging and has appeared as spokesperson for Republican issues.

In March 2013, McMorris Rodgers did not support the continuation of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, but sponsored an alternative that received criticism from Seattle Post-Intelligencer writer Joel Connelly as "watered-down."[36][37] Ultimately, her bill failed and House adopted the Senate version of the bill.[36]

In late 2013, she wrote a letter blasting Democrats and accusing them of being "openly hostile to American values and the Constitution" and citing the Affordable Care Act and immigration as evidence that President Obama "rule[s] by decree."[38] In her position as Chair, she blamed the Affordable Care Act for causing unemployment and when reported studies that proved the opposite and asked her office for evidence to support her claims, "McMorris Rodgers’ office got back to us not with an answer, but with a question."[39]

McMorris Rodgers sponsored legislation that would speed the licensing process for dams and promote energy production. According to a Department of Energy study, retrofitting the largest 100 dams in the country could produce enough power for an additional 3.2 million homes. The legislation reached President Obama’s desk without a single dissenter on Capitol Hill.[40]

In January 2014, it was announced that McMorris Rodgers would be giving the Republican response to President Obama's 2014 State of the Union Address. The decision was made by House Speaker John Boehner and Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell.[41][42] McMorris Rodgers is the twelfth woman to give the response[43] and fifth female Republican, but only the third Republican to do so solo, after New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman in 1995[44] and the Spanish response by Florida Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the most senior female Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, in 2011. Ros-Lehtinen also gave the Spanish response this year, which was largely a translation of McMorris Rogers' remarks.[45]

The following month, the Office of Congressional Ethics recommended the United States House Committee on Ethics initiate a probe into allegations by a former McMorris Rodgers staff member that the congresswoman had improperly mixed campaign money and official funds to help win the 2012 GOP leadership race against Rep. Price. McMorris Rodgers denied the allegations.[46]

After voting dozens of times to repeal Obamacare, McMorris Rodgers responded in 2014 to reports that Obama's program had provided coverage to over 600,000 Washington residents by acknowledging that the law's framework would probably remain and that she favored reforms within its structure.[47]

In November 2014, Rodgers faced off against Joe Pakootas, the first Native American candidate to run for Congress in Washington state. Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers received 135,470 votes (60.68%) and Democrat Joe Pakootas received 87,772 (39.32%).[48]

Sixth term 2015—2017[edit]

McMorris Rodgers speaking at a press conference with House leadership, including Speaker Paul Ryan, in Washington.

In March 2015 McMorris Rodgers posted a Facebook comment stating "this week marks the 5th anniversary of #Obamacare being signed into law. Whether it's turned your tax filing into a nightmare, you're facing skyrocketing premiums, or your employer has reduced your work hours, I want to hear about it."[49] Instead, she found her Facebook page almost exclusively filled with testimonials to the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.[50][51] Despite this, on March 28, 2015 McMorris Rodgers held a press conference about Obamacare in which she said nothing about the overwhelmingly positive comments she'd received from her constituents and instead rehashed five stories lifted from the House Republican leadership website that described problems with Obamacare.[52]

In September 2015, Brett O'Donnell, who worked for Rodgers, plead guilty to lying to House ethics investigators about how much campaign work he did while being paid by lawmakers' office accounts, becoming the first person ever to be convicted of lying to House Office of Congressional Ethics.[53] The OCE found that Rodgers improperly used campaign funds to pay O'Donnell for help in her congressional office and improperly held a debate prep session in her congressional office.[53]

Four issues dominated the start of McMorris Rodger’s sixth term: responses to devastating Eastern Washington wildfires, advocating for Fairchild Air Force Base, drafting the USA Act and working to improve veteran care.

Eastern Washington’s 2015 wildfire season was the most severe in modern history. Over 1,500 separate fires burned more than a million acres. Several fire fighters were killed battling the flames and approximately 675 structures were lost.[54]

McMorris Rodgers proposed a two-pronged approach that would both improve response times to future fires and reduce their severity. This approach calls for better management of federal forests and securing funding for rapid responses when wildfires do occur.[55]

McMorris Rodgers co-sponsored a bill known as the Resilient Federal Forests Act (HR 2647). The legislation recognizes the importance of taking proactive steps to reduce catastrophic fires through active management of the forest and reducing the amount of overgrowth and hazardous fuels.[56] HR 2647 passed the House in 2015.

McMorris Rodgers worked to bring about a new approach at forest management in the Colville National Forest. Mill Creek A to Z program is the first stewardship partnership between a National Forest and private company. The pilot program aims to restore the 54,000-acre Mill Creek watershed. The A to Z project focuses on removing small trees and underbrush, while leaving old growth trees uncut. It also aims to restore streams and riparian zones.[57]

McMorris Rodgers has long been a champion of Fairchild; she’s written multiple letters urging Pentagon officials to local the KC-46A to Fairchild.[58] In May 2016, McMorris Rodgers voted in favor of legislation that authorized critical funding for Fairchild.[59]

In March 2016, McMorris Rodgers unveiled the Unauthorized Spending Accountability Act (USA Act). The USA Act would eliminate spending on government programs that have not been explicitly authorized by Congress.[60] The proposed legislation puts all unauthorized programs on a pathway to being wound down in three years. It also requires any new authorizations or reauthorizations to include a sunset clause. The intent is routine scrutiny by Congress of most government spending.

McMorris Rodgers introduced the legislation to protect the constitutional separation of powers. McMorris Rodgers asserted the bill would “Restore the power of the purse to the American people.” [60] Jake Tapper of CNN dubbed the legislation the “Zombie government programs” bill.[61]

McMorris Rodgers has been critical of the Veterans Administration, citing long wait times and inadequate standards of veteran care. In September 2016, she voted in support of the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act (HR 5620), which would strengthen whistleblower protections, reform the Department’s disability benefits and provide additional authority to the VA Secretary to reprimand employees for poor performance or misconduct. The legislation passed the House in September.[62]

McMorris Rodgers voted to prevent the transfer to detainees from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay on September 15. In making her decision she cited a report that said over 30% of detainees released from the prison return to some form of jihad.[63]

In late September, McMorris Rodgers voted for the Prohibiting Future Ransom Payments to Iran Act (HR 5931). The bill prohibits the U.S. government from providing a foreign regime currency in exchange for the release of U.S. citizens held in captivity abroad.[64] HR 5931 passed the House September 22. It is currently waiting a hearing in the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Also in September, McMorris Rodgers sent a letter to Ron Johnson, Director of the VA Medical Facility in Spokane protesting the VA’s decision to terminate the ability of veterans to access physical therapy services.[65]

McMorris Rodgers released draft legislation, titled Caring for our Heroes in the 21st Century Act, which seeks to modernize the way veterans receive health care by allowing them to choose their own physicians with government subsidies.[66]

In the 2016 election, McMorris Rodgers received the most votes, 192,959 (59.64%) and Democrat Joe Pakootas received 130,575 votes (40.36%).[67]

Interest group ratings[edit]

2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 Selected interest group ratings[68]
75 72 72 84 80 96 96 American Conservative Union
0 0 5 0 0 0 0 Americans for Democratic Action
58 62 59 70 61 94 82 Club for Growth
0 0 22 American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
92 92 75 83 90 100 Family Research Council
70 76 72 89 84 National Taxpayers Union
100 93 83 100 100 100 80 Chamber of Commerce of the United States
0 5 4 9 7 3 10 League of Conservation Voters

Committee assignments[edit]

McMorris Rodgers is currently on the:[69]

Political stances[edit]

National security[edit]

McMorris Rodgers supported President Donald Trump's 2017 executive order to temporarily curtail Muslim immigration until better screening methods are devised. She stated that "It is the federal government’s responsibility to protect the American people, and the Trump administration is following through on that responsibility.”[70]

Personal life[edit]

Cathy McMorris married Brian Rodgers on August 5, 2006 in San Diego. Rodgers was a retired Navy commander and a Spokane, Washington native. Rodgers was also a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and the son of David H. Rodgers, the mayor of Spokane from 1967 to 1977. In February 2007, she changed her name to Cathy McMorris Rodgers.[71]


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 Rodgers.[72] The couple later announced that their child had been diagnosed with Down syndrome.[73] A second child, Grace, was born December 2010, and a third, Brynn Catherine, in November 2013.[74][75]


According to the Official Congressional Directory, she is a member of Grace Evangelical Free Church, which is an Evangelical Free Church of America in Colville, Washington.[76][77]


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  31. ^ "Bill Summary & Status – 112th Congress (2011–2012) – H.R.1971". Library of Congress. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  32. ^ "Norquist says Republican pharmacy proposal 'incentivizes' Medicare fraud". Elise Viebeck. The Hill. April 27, 2012. Retrieved February 4, 2013. 
  33. ^ "Bill Summary & Status – 112th Congress (2011–2012) – H.R.2313". Library of Congress. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
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  39. ^ "Is Obamacare Causing Health Care Layoffs?". January 17, 2014. Retrieved January 29, 2014. 
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  42. ^ Michael, O'Brien (January 23, 2014). "GOP taps top-ranking woman to deliver SOTU response". NBC News. 
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  45. ^ "Ros-Lehtinen to deliver Spanish SOTU response". The Hill. January 28, 2014. Retrieved January 28, 2014. 
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  48. ^ "Congressional District 5 – U.S. Representative – County Results". Washington Secretary of State. 2012. Retrieved January 25, 2015. 
  49. ^ McMorris Rodgers, Congresswoman Cathy (March 23, 2015). "This week marks the 5th anniversary ...". Facebook. 
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  56. ^ "H.R. 2647 The Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015". House Committee on Natural Resources. 
  57. ^ "Collaboration Works for Forest Restoration". The Nature Conservancy in Washington. 
  58. ^ "McMorris Rodgers Statement on Fairchild Air Force Base Candidacy for New Aerial Refueling Tanker | Cathy McMorris Rodgers". 
  59. ^ "McMorris Rodgers Applauds Passage of Defense Authorization | Cathy McMorris Rodgers". 
  60. ^ a b "USA Act Introduced Cathy McMorris Rodgers". 
  61. ^ "Zombies among us: Govt. programs live past 'expiration date' - CNN Video". 
  62. ^ "Defense/Veterans - Rep. McMorris Rodgers Votes to Make it Easier to Fire Bad VA Employees". September 14, 2016. 
  63. ^ "House Votes to Temporarily Block Guantanamo Transfers". Washington Free Beacon. 
  64. ^ "H.R.5931 - Prohibiting Future Ransom Payments to Iran Act". 
  65. ^ "Defense/Veterans - Rep. McMorris Rodgers to Spokane VA Director: We Need To Find A Solution To Veteran Group's PT Participation As Soon As Possible". September 16, 2016. 
  66. ^ "Defense/Veterans - McMorris Rodgers Releases Draft VA Reform Legislation". June 7, 2016. 
  67. ^ "Congressional District 5". 
  68. ^ "Cathy McMorris Rodgers". 2014. Retrieved January 26, 2014. 
  69. ^ McMorris Rodgers, Cathy (2014). "Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers". Retrieved January 25, 2014. 
  70. ^ Blake, Aaron. "Coffman, Gardner join Republicans against President Trump's travel ban; here's where the rest stand". Denver Post. Retrieved 30 January 2017. 
  71. ^ "Congresswoman changes name to McMorris Rodgers, WA". February 1, 2007. The Associated Press News Service. 
  72. ^ Cannata, Amy (April 30, 2007). "It's A Boy". Spokesman Review. Retrieved December 7, 2011. 
  73. ^ McMorris Rodgers, Cathy (2008). "My Down Syndrome Story". Archived from the original on February 3, 2014. Retrieved January 25, 2014. 
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  75. ^ Igor Bobic (November 25, 2013). "Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers Gives Birth To Daughter". Talking Points Memo. Retrieved January 26, 2014. 
  76. ^ "FIFTH DISTRICT" (PDF). Official Congressional Directory. 2011. 
  77. ^ McMorris Rodgers, Cathy (2010). "McMorris Rodgers' Pastor Tim Goble of Colville Delivers Opening Prayer for Congress". Archived from the original on February 1, 2014. Retrieved January 25, 2014. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
George Nethercutt
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's 5th congressional district

Party political offices
Preceded by
Kay Granger
Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference
Succeeded by
Lynn Jenkins
Preceded by
Jeb Hensarling
Chair of the House Republican Conference
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Patrick McHenry
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Gwen Moore