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Jim Costa

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Jim Costa
Co-Chair of the Blue Dog Coalition
In office
January 3, 2023 – May 24, 2023
Serving with Jared Golden
Preceded byEd Case
Stephanie Murphy
Tom O'Halleran
Succeeded byMarie Gluesenkamp Perez
Mary Peltola
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from California
Assumed office
January 3, 2005
Preceded byCal Dooley
Constituency20th district (2005–2013)
16th district (2013–2023)
21st district (2023–present)
Member of the California State Senate
from the 16th district
In office
December 5, 1994 – November 30, 2002
Preceded byPhil Wyman
Succeeded byDean Florez
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 30th district
In office
December 4, 1978 – November 30, 1994
Preceded byKenneth L. Maddy
Succeeded byBrian Setencich
Personal details
James Manuel Costa

(1952-04-13) April 13, 1952 (age 72)
Fresno, California, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Residence(s)Fresno, California
EducationCalifornia State University, Fresno (BA)
WebsiteHouse website

James Manuel Costa ComM (born April 13, 1952) is an American politician serving as the U.S. representative for California's 21st congressional district since 2023, previously representing the 20th congressional district from 2005 to 2013 and the 16th congressional district from 2013 to 2023. A member of the Democratic Party, his district includes most of Fresno.

Costa served in the California State Assembly from 1978 to 1994 before he was elected to the California State Senate from 1994 until 2002. During his time in the California State Assembly, he served as Majority Caucus Chair. Costa, who chaired the Blue Dog Coalition in the U.S. House of Representatives,[1] also chaired the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture during the 117th Congress.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Fresno, Costa is a third-generation family farmer. His grandparents emigrated from the Azores in the early 20th century. He graduated in 1970 from San Joaquin Memorial High School, a private Catholic school. He obtained a bachelor's degree in political science from Fresno State in 1974, where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. While in college, Costa worked as an intern in the office of U.S. Representative B. F. Sisk (D-CA). After graduating from Fresno State, Costa spent two years working as an aide to U.S. Representative John Krebs (D-CA), before becoming Chief of Staff to California State Assemblyman and future U.S. Representative Rick Lehman (D-CA).

Costa is Roman Catholic,[2] and has been described as a liberal Catholic who favors abortion rights.[3][4]

California legislature[edit]

Costa was elected to the California State Assembly in 1978. At the time of his election to the California State Legislature, he was the youngest member of the legislature at the age of 26. He represented part of Fresno County in the state legislature for 24 years, serving in the State Assembly (1978–1994) and the State Senate (1994–2002). He was a sponsor of the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, a bill signed into law in 1995 that prohibits rent control on single-family homes, condominiums, and any rental unit constructed after February 1, 1995.[5]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]



In 2004, Costa entered the Democratic primary for the 20th district, which was opened up by the retirement of its seven-term incumbent, Cal Dooley. Dooley endorsed his chief of staff, Lisa Quigley, as his successor, but most of the state's Democratic Party establishment, including Senator Dianne Feinstein, endorsed Costa, who won the bruising primary and faced Republican state senator Roy Ashburn in November.[citation needed]

The 20th district is a heavily Democratic, 63% Latino-majority district; it gave Al Gore his highest vote total outside the state's two large conurbations (Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area in the north and Los Angeles and San Diego to the south). Nonetheless, the Republicans spent a substantial amount of money on the race. Ashburn's campaign made plays on Costa's name ("Costa's going to cost ya") and linked him to former governor Gray Davis, calling them "two taxing twins".[citation needed] Costa won the election with 54% of the vote to Ashburn's 46%. Ashburn kept the margin within single digits by winning heavily Republican Kings County.


Costa ran unopposed for reelection in 2006. The Democrats won control of the House in that election, and Costa became chair of the Natural Resources Committee's Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee. He is a member of the House Agriculture Committee.[citation needed]


Costa was reelected in 2008 with 74% of the vote, the highest percentage for a Democratic incumbent outside Sacramento, the Bay Area, and Southern California.[citation needed]


Costa was challenged for reelection by Republican nominee Andy Vidak. In his closest race yet, the race was officially called for Costa nearly three weeks after election day,[6] with the unofficial final tally standing at 45,806 votes (51.8%) for Costa and 42,773 (48.2%) for Vidak.


For his first four terms, Costa represented a district including most of the majority-Latino portions of Fresno and Bakersfield. Redistricting after the 2010 census renumbered his district as the 21st and made it slightly more Republican. In February 2012, Costa announced that he would run in the newly formed 16th district, a much more compact district that included most of Fresno as well as most of Merced.[7] That district had previously been the 19th, represented by freshman Republican Jeff Denham. Denham's home had been drawn into the neighboring 10th district (formerly the 18th district), and he sought reelection there. While most of Costa's old territory remained in the 21st, the new 16th absorbed most of the old 20th's share of Fresno County, including his home.

Costa faced Republican Brian Whelan in the general election. After the new districts were announced, it was reported that the NRCC considered Costa vulnerable to defeat,[8] but had the district existed in 2008, Barack Obama would have carried it with 57% of the vote.[9]

In November 2011, the League of Conservation Voters ran a series of television ads in Costa's district criticizing his environmental record.[10] Costa was reelected with 54% of the vote.[11]


Costa faced an unexpectedly close race against Republican Johnny Tacherra, a dairy farmer from rural Fresno County. On election night, Tacherra led by 736 votes, a margin that grew to 1,772 a few days later. Tacherra's lead narrowed as counting continued, and Costa ultimately defeated him by 1,319 votes.[12] While Tacherra carried the district's portions of Merced and Madera counties, Costa defeated him in Fresno County by 9,600 votes.[13]


On June 7, 2016, Costa was the sole Democratic candidate in the 2016 "top two" primary, and was ahead on June 28, with 50,917 votes (55.9%). In the general election he again faced Tacherra, who had received 30,342 votes (33.1%) in the primary.[14] Costa was reelected with 58% of the vote to Tacherra's 42%.[15]


On November 6, 2018, Costa defeated the only Republican candidate, Elizabeth Heng, in the "top two" primary, 53% to 47%. He was reelected in a Democratic "wave" in California, 57.5% to 42.5%.[16]


Costa and Republican challenger Kevin Cookingham, a former Clovis Unified School District educator,[17] advanced through the "top two" primary, besting two Democratic challengers. Costa then won the general election with 59.4% of the vote to Cookingham's 40.6%.[18][19]


For 2022, Costa was redistricted to District 21. On November 8, he defeated Republican nominee Michael Maher with 54.2% of the vote to Maher's 45.8%.[20]

Committee assignments[edit]

For the 118th Congress:[21]

Caucus memberships[edit]

  • American Sikh Congressional Caucus
  • Congressional Armenian Caucus
  • Blue Dog Coalition[22] (former Chair)
  • Congressional Crime Survivors and Justice Caucus (Co-founder and Chairman)
  • Congressional Hispanic Caucus[23]
  • European Union Caucus
  • Congressional Fertilizer Caucus (Co-Chair)
  • House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force
  • Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues
  • Congressional India Caucus
  • Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus
  • New Democrat Coalition[24]
  • Congressional Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Awareness Caucus (Co-Chair)
  • Problem Solvers Caucus[25]
  • Congressional Rodeo Caucus (Co-Chair)
  • Taiwan Caucus
  • Transatlantic Legislators' Dialogue (Co-Chair)
  • Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission
  • Congressional Wine Caucus

Political positions[edit]

As of 2022, Costa has voted with President Joe Biden's stated position 100% of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight.[26]

Abortion and contraception[edit]

In 2020, Costa received a 100% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America[27] and has been endorsed by the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.[28] Costa opposed the overturning of Roe v. Wade, saying, "this ruling strips women of their freedom to make their own decisions and the constitutional right to privacy."[29] He is an original co-sponsor of the Women's Health Protection Act,[30] which prohibits governmental restrictions on the provision of, and access to, abortion services nationwide.[31]

Additionally, Costa voted for H.R. 8373 ("The Right to Contraception Act"), which would create a statutory right for individuals to obtain contraceptives and engage in contraception. He also voted for the Ensuring Women’s Right to Reproductive Freedom Act, which would protect individuals crossing state lines who are seeking safe and legal reproductive healthcare, including those traveling with them, from criminal prosecution.


Costa co-sponsored the bipartisan Agricultural Certainty for Reporting Emissions (ACRE) Act. The act would strip provisions from Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), which was responsible for ensuring cleanup of industrial toxic waste dumps, oil spills, and chemical tank explosions environmental regulations on farmland.[32] If enacted, the act would reduce transparency by protecting livestock farmers from changes to waste storage and disposal methods. Another provision would protect farmers from strict water laws, regulated under the Clean Water Act.[33]

District of Columbia rights[edit]

Costa supports DC statehood. He was a co-sponsor and voted for H.R. 51 - Washington, D.C. Admission Act, which would grant statehood to the residential areas of the current District of Columbia as the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth.

On February 9, 2023, Costa, along with 30 other Democrats, voted with House Republicans to reject the Revised Criminal Code Act of 2022, passed by the Council of the District of Columbia.


In January 2015, Costa was one of 28 House Democrats to vote to build the Keystone XL pipeline.[34]

Foreign affairs[edit]

Costa and other members of the US congressional delegation with Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Jerusalem, Israel, March 28, 2024

Costa was one of five House Democrats to vote to continue selling arms to Saudi Arabia and to support the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen.[35]

Armenia–Azerbaijan conflict[edit]

Costa accused Turkey, a NATO member, of inciting the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, saying, "Azerbaijan has continued to fuel this fire by failing to recognize the sovereignty of the Republic of Artsakh, while Turkey has helped enable this aggression."[36] On October 1, 2020, he co-signed a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that condemned Azerbaijan's offensive operations against the Armenian-populated Republic of Artsakh, denounced Turkey's role in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and called for an immediate ceasefire.[37]

Ukraine-Russia War[edit]

In February 2023, during the Russo-Ukrainian War, Costa signed a letter advocating for President Biden to give F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.[38] Costa has been a regular attendee of the Yalta European Strategy annual meetings founded and sponsored by Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk.[39][40]


Costa voted to provide Israel with support following 2023 Hamas attack on Israel.[41][42]

Health care[edit]

Costa was reportedly a holdout vote on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, in March 2010. He ultimately voted in favor of the legislation.[43] To gain Costa's vote, the House leadership reportedly promised Costa and Dennis Cardoza funding for a medical school for California's Central Valley.[44]


Costa has continuously supported comprehensive immigration reform. He is an original co-sponsor of the American Dream and Promise Act,[45] which provides a pathway to citizenship for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. He was instrumental in crafting the bipartisan Farmworker Modernization Act,[46] which would give undocumented farmworkers and their family members a path to legal immigration status.

Costa supports strong border security, and has voted to authorize funding for improved border security. He said, "Over my congressional career—through three presidents from both parties—I have continually voted to improve border security, including authorizing construction of physical barriers where appropriate."[47]

Infrastructure and transportation[edit]

In August 2021, Costa joined a group of conservative Democrats, dubbed "The Unbreakable Nine", who threatened to derail the Biden administration's $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package meant to tackle the nation's infrastructure.[48][49]

High-speed rail[edit]

Costa has advocated creating a high-speed rail system that would go up and down California as well as across the nation at speeds of 225 miles per hour. He has introduced many bills supporting these rails; so far, none have passed. Costa's longtime colleague George Miller compared rail projects to President Dwight D. Eisenhower's highway expansion and pleaded to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and President Barack Obama for help with this project.[50]

In April 2008, Costa wrote a piece in Capitol Weekly calling for high-speed rail in California.[51]


National cemetery burials[edit]

In December 2017, Costa introduced legislation to allow some Hmong- and Laotian-American veterans to be buried in U.S. national cemeteries. The legislation applies to Hmong and Laotian veterans who fought alongside the U.S. against North Vietnamese forces in the 1960s and 1970s. The bill, which does not allow for burials at Arlington National Cemetery, applies only to veterans who pass away on or after the bill's enactment. The bill was enacted in March 2018 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018.[52]



  1. ^ "Members". Blue Dog Coalition. Archived from the original on June 30, 2019. Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  2. ^ "Religious affiliation of members of 118th Congress" (PDF). PEW Research Center. Retrieved January 23, 2023.
  3. ^ Reilly, Patrick (June 24, 2021). "Did the 60 Pro-Abortion Catholic House Democrats Attend Catholic Schools?". National Catholic Register. Retrieved April 8, 2023.
  4. ^ French, Lauren (September 22, 2015). "Poverty, immigration top Dem wish-list for pope". Politico. Retrieved April 8, 2023.
  5. ^ "Civil Code CIV: Chapter 2.7. Residential Rent Control". California Legislative Information. Retrieved December 12, 2022.
  6. ^ "Costa Holds Seat, Keeps GOP Pickups at 63: Roll Call Politics". Rollcall.com. November 23, 2010. Retrieved October 30, 2011.
  7. ^ "Rep. Jim Costa Announces Reelection Campaign". KGPE.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Republicans Tout Redistricting Gains". National Journal. March 28, 2012. Archived from the original on October 19, 2012.
  9. ^ "Daily Kos Elections 2008, 2012 & 2016 presidential election results for congressional districts used in 2016 elections". Retrieved May 25, 2018.
  10. ^ "Jim Costa responds to attacks from the right, and the left". ABC News.
  11. ^ "U.S. House: California District 16 - 2012 Election Center". CNN.
  12. ^ "Jim Costa keeps House seat, edging out Johnny Tacherra in another late-vote rally". Fresno Bee. November 19, 2014. Archived from the original on November 9, 2014. Retrieved December 11, 2014.
  13. ^ "California House results -- 2014 Election Center -- Elections and Politics from CNN.com". CNN. Retrieved May 25, 2018.
  14. ^ 16 District returns Archived July 9, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, California Secretary of State, June 28, 2016. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  15. ^ California's 16th Congressional District election, Ballotpedia. Retrieved November 23, 2019.
  16. ^ California's 16th Congressional District election, Ballotpedia. Retrieved November 23, 2019.
  17. ^ Taub, David (May 10, 2019). "Retired Clovis Unified Educator Is First 2020 Costa Challenger". GV Wire. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  18. ^ "STATEMENT OF VOTE PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY ELECTION MARCH 3, 2020" (PDF). California Secretary of State Alex Padilla. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 17, 2020. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
  19. ^ "November 3, 2020, General Election - United States Representative" (PDF). California Secretary of State. Retrieved December 22, 2020.
  20. ^ "General Election - Statement of the Vote, November 8, 2022 - United States Representative" (PDF). California Secretary of State. Retrieved April 21, 2023.
  21. ^ "Jim Costa". Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. Retrieved April 29, 2023.
  22. ^ "Members". Blue Dog Coalition. Archived from the original on June 30, 2019. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
  23. ^ "Members". Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Archived from the original on May 15, 2018. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  24. ^ "Members". New Democrat Coalition. Archived from the original on February 8, 2018. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  25. ^ "Featured Members". Problem Solvers Caucus. Retrieved March 28, 2021.
  26. ^ Bycoffe, Aaron; Wiederkehr, Anna (April 22, 2021). "Does Your Member Of Congress Vote With Or Against Biden?". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved November 15, 2023.
  27. ^ "Congressional Record".
  28. ^ "Planned Parenthood Action Fund". Planned Parenthood Action Fund. 2022.
  29. ^ Costa, Jim (June 24, 2023). "This ruling strips women of their freedom to make their own decisions and the constitutional right to privacy. California has codified reproductive rights into law, it's long overdue for the rest of the country to do the same. (2/3)". Twitter. Retrieved June 27, 2022.
  30. ^ "H.R.3755". Congress.gov. June 8, 2021. Retrieved January 23, 2024.
  31. ^ "Costa Reaffirms his Commitment to Protect Reproductive Rights". Congressman Jim Costa. July 15, 2022. Retrieved October 19, 2022.
  32. ^ "NCBA Hails Introduction of Bipartisan ACRE Act in U.S. House of Representatives". National Cattlemen's Beef Association. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
  33. ^ Liebmann, Larissa (April 23, 2018). "Don't Let CAFOs Hide Their Pollution | Dive Into Democracy". Waterkeeper's Alliance. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
  34. ^ Foran, Clare (January 9, 2015). "Here are the 28 House Democrats Who Voted to Approve the Keystone XL Pipeline". The Atlantic. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
  35. ^ Fuller, Matt; Ahmed, Akbar Shahid (December 12, 2018). "5 Democrats Bail Out Paul Ryan And Protect Saudi Arabia". Huffington Post. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  36. ^ "Members of Congress Blast Azerbaijan and Turkey As Attack on Artsakh Expands to Armenia". Armenian Weekly. September 29, 2020.
  37. ^ "Senate and House Leaders to Secretary of State Pompeo: Cut Military Aid to Azerbaijan; Sanction Turkey for Ongoing Attacks Against Armenia and Artsakh". Armenian Weekly. October 2, 2020.
  38. ^ "Seven more lawmakers — including six Democrats — have signed on to a letter pushing Joe Biden to send F-16 jets to Ukraine". Politico. February 21, 2023. Retrieved February 24, 2023.
  39. ^ "Speakers". Yalta European Strategy. Retrieved January 31, 2024.
  40. ^ "Speakers". Yalta European Strategy. Retrieved January 31, 2024.
  41. ^ Demirjian, Karoun (October 25, 2023). "House Declares Solidarity With Israel in First Legislation Under New Speaker". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 30, 2023.
  42. ^ Washington, U. S. Capitol Room H154; p:225-7000, DC 20515-6601 (October 25, 2023). "Roll Call 528 Roll Call 528, Bill Number: H. Res. 771, 118th Congress, 1st Session". Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved October 30, 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  43. ^ "Costa a yes". Politico. March 10, 2010.
  44. ^ "Side deals stack up as health bills move along". The Hill. November 23, 2009.
  45. ^ "Costa Statement on Re-Introduction of Dream and Promise Act, Farm Workforce Modernization Act". March 4, 2021.
  46. ^ "Costa Statement on Re-Introduction of Dream and Promise Act, Farm Workforce Modernization Act". March 4, 2021.
  47. ^ Costa, Jim (January 11, 2019). "Jim Costa: Keeping America safe is the priority. That involves more than just a wall".
  48. ^ "Already, Cracks Emerge in Rep. Josh Gottheimer's "Unbreakable Nine"". August 25, 2021.
  49. ^ Bouie, Jamelle (August 24, 2021). "Opinion | the 9 Democrats Making Nancy Pelosi's Life Harder Are Making a Big Mistake". The New York Times.
  50. ^ "Jim Costa". Political Profile. The Washington Post. August 21, 2012. Archived from the original on November 29, 2014.
  51. ^ "High speed rail: a viable transportation system for California". Capitol Weekly. Archived from the original on February 9, 2011. Retrieved November 15, 2014.
  52. ^ Constante, Agnes (April 3, 2018). "Congress passes law allowing national cemetery burials for 'secret war' veterans". NBC News. Retrieved August 24, 2018.
  53. ^ "Cidadãos Estrangeiros Agraciados com Ordens Portuguesas". Página Oficial das Ordens Honoríficas Portuguesas. Retrieved August 1, 2017.

External links[edit]

California Assembly
Preceded by Member of the California Assembly
from the 30th district

Succeeded by
California Senate
Preceded by Member of the California Senate
from the 16th district

Succeeded by
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 20th congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 16th congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 21st congressional district

Party political offices
Preceded by Chair of the Blue Dog Coalition for Communications
Served alongside: Kurt Schrader (Administration), Jim Cooper (Policy)
Succeeded by
Chair of the Blue Dog Coalition for Administration
Served alongside: Henry Cuellar (Communications), Dan Lipinski (Policy)
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the Blue Dog Coalition for Policy
Served alongside: Jared Golden (Administration and Communications)
Succeeded by
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by United States representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Henry Cuellar