Suzan DelBene

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Suzan DelBene
Suzan DelBene, official portrait, 115th Congress.jpg
Chair of the New Democrat Coalition
Assumed office
January 3, 2021
Preceded byDerek Kilmer
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's 1st district
Assumed office
November 13, 2012
Preceded byJay Inslee
Personal details
Suzan Kay Oliver

(1962-02-17) February 17, 1962 (age 60)
Selma, Alabama, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
(m. 1997)
EducationReed College (BS)
University of Washington (MBA)
WebsiteHouse website

Suzan Kay DelBene (née Oliver; /ˌdɛlˈbɛn/ DELL-BENN-ay;[1] born February 17, 1962) is an American politician and businesswoman who has been the United States representative from Washington's 1st congressional district since 2012.[2]

DelBene was the 2010 Democratic nominee for U.S. representative for Washington's 8th congressional district and narrowly lost to incumbent Republican Dave Reichert.[3] In 2012 she won the general election in Washington's redrawn 1st district against Republican John Koster,[4][5] while simultaneously winning the election for the remainder of the term in the 1st district under the pre-2012 boundaries, a seat left vacant by the resignation of Jay Inslee.

She chairs the New Democrat Coalition, the third-largest ideological caucus.

Early life and education[edit]

DelBene was born in Selma, Alabama, the fifth child of Barry and Beth Oliver. At a young age, her family moved to Newport Hills in Bellevue, Washington. Later they moved to Mercer Island. In an autobiographical video, DelBene described her family's trouble paying bills and the hardship they faced after her father, a longtime airline pilot, lost his job.[6] After fourth grade, her family moved all over the country in search of work.

After graduating from The Choate School, a prep school in Wallingford, Connecticut, DelBene went to Reed College, where she earned a bachelor's degree in biology. She then continued her education at the University of Washington, earning a Master's degree in business administration.[7]

Business career[edit]

From 1989 to 1998 DelBene worked at Microsoft, where she was director of marketing and business development for the Interactive Media Group, marketing and sales training for Microsoft's Internet properties, and other business development and product management roles with Windows 95 and early versions of Microsoft's Internet Explorer Web browser. In 1998 she left to help found and serve as a vice president. In 2000, she became CEO of Nimble Technology,[8] leading it through its acquisition by Actuate in 2003. In 2004, she returned to Microsoft as corporate vice president of the Mobile Communications Business until 2007.[9] From 2008 to 2009, she was a management consultant and strategic advisor to Global Partnerships, a nonprofit supporting microfinance and sustainable solutions in Latin America.[10][11] DelBene was named as the director for the Washington State Department of Revenue on November 30, 2010, replacing outgoing director Cindi Holmstrom.[12]

U.S House of Representatives[edit]


Congresswoman Suzan DelBene with a vendor at a Kirkland, WA farmer's market.


In 2010 DelBene ran for the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat against the incumbent in the 8th congressional district, Dave Reichert, a Republican. According to DelBene's campaign website, the economy was her top priority.[13] She was endorsed by the Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer,[14][15] as well as several Democratic politicians.[16]

DelBene faced Reichert in the general election, after coming in 2nd in the primary voting. In Washington, the top two advance. She lost to Reichert in the general election on November 2. She was named Washington State Revenue Director by Governor Christine Gregoire on November 30.


DelBene ran for Congress again in 2012. She won the Democratic nomination for the redrawn 1st district, previously represented by Jay Inslee, which became more competitive due to redistricting. Inslee had resigned in March to focus on his campaign for governor.[17] DelBene ran in two elections that day against Republican John Koster—a special election for the last two months of Inslee's seventh term (held in the boundaries of the old 1st), and a regular election for a full two-year term. She defeated Koster in both, winning the special election with 60% of the vote and the regular election with 54%. Her victory margin in the regular election was wider than expected, considering[clarification needed] that the district was about six points less Democratic than its predecessor.[4][5] On November 13, she was sworn in as the district's representative for the remainder of the 112th Congress,[2] giving her a leg up in seniority over all but a few other representatives first elected in November 2012 for the 113th Congress.

DelBene spent $2.8 million of her own money in a race in which she raised over $4 million, in a Congressional race that became the most expensive in Washington state history.[18]


DelBene defeated Republican nominee Pedro Celis[19] with 55% of the vote.[20]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Policy positions[edit]

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene speaking at the 2019 Forum Global Data Privacy Conference.


DelBene is one of the lead sponsors of the American Family Act, which would cut childhood poverty nearly in half by increasing the Child Tax Credit to provide up to $3,000 per child per year and $3,600 for children younger than 6, make the credit refundable so that low-income families receive the full credit, and allow the payments to be provided monthly. President Joe Biden adopted a one-year version of this expansion in the American Rescue Plan.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, DelBene introduced the JOBS Credit Act, which would expand the Employee Retention Tax Credit, an advanced refundable tax credit for employers designed to keep workers on the payroll and connected to their health benefits while businesses revenues were hit because of the pandemic. An expansion of the credit was included in the Heroes Act and a modified version ultimately passed in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.

In 2019, DelBene introduced H.R. 4027, the Women’s Small Business Ownership Act,[23] which is aimed at increasing business counseling and training services for women entrepreneurs.[24]

In the 116th Congress, DelBene also introduced:

  • The Portable Benefits for Independent Workers Pilot Program Act, which allows temporary and contract workers to access portable benefits models, and
  • The Lifelong Learning and Training Account Act, which assists low- and moderate-income workers in retraining and enhancing their skills over the course of their careers.

Environment and conservation[edit]

In 2021, DelBene passed the National Landslide Preparedness Act, legislation she originally introduced after the 2014 Oso landslide. The legislation expands early warning systems, develops new mapping to better prepare communities and local governments for landslide risks, and establishes the National Landslides Hazard Reduction program through the United States Geological Survey.

DelBene also led calls to fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund to help protect local parks and support conservation projects. In August 2020, the LWCF was funded permanently at $900 million a year.[25]

Health care[edit]

DelBene serves on the Ways and Means Committee. She has advanced two bills in 2018 addressing opioid addiction.

In the 116th Congress, DelBene introduced the following legislation:

  • The Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act, to improve delivery of health care by streamlining prior authorization in Medicare Advantage for routinely approved services.[26]
  • The Mental Health Telehealth Expansion Act,[27] which would expand access to health care by allowing all Medicare beneficiaries to receive mental health services from their home regardless of their geographic location. This legislation ultimately passed in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.
  • The Chronic Care Management Improvement Act,[28] which would remove the cost-sharing requirement for chronic care management (CCM) services, making care coordination services easier for providers and more affordable for the sickest Medicare beneficiaries.


In the 116th Congress, DelBene introduced:

  • The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2019 (H.R. 3077),[29] a bill that would increase the government's investment in affordable housing and provide resources to aid at-risk and underserved communities by creating a projected 1.9 million new affordable housing units over the next decade, among other things.[30] Without this legislation, only 550,000 new units would be built in the same time frame.[30]

Reproductive rights[edit]

DelBene is one of the leaders of the Pro-Choice Caucus[31] and supported access to reproductive health care by serving on the Select Committee to Investigate Planned Parenthood, which was established under former Speaker Paul Ryan in 2015.[32]

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene speaking at the Lynnwood Link Extension Project Groundbreaking Ceremony in September 2019.


In 2019, DelBene reintroduced the Information Transparency and Personal Data Control Act, legislation that would require companies to present their data privacy policies in clear language. The legislation would also create an option for consumers to opt in before companies can use their sensitive personal information.

DelBene introduced several other bills that would help update the nation's privacy laws, including the Email Privacy Act, the Secure Data Act, and the Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad (LEADS) Act. Legislation similar to the LEADS Act, the CLOUD Act, was passed into law in the 115th Congress.

In the 116th Congress, DelBene was a member of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, "which is committed to find ways to improve and modernize the way Congress operates".

In the 116th Congress, DelBene also introduced:

  • The Smart Cities and Communities Act, which promotes the advancement of smart cities and smart city technologies through research and investment to improve community livability, and
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) Readiness Act, with John Katko, which would direct the Federal Communications Commission to provide Congress with the data it needs in order to be prepared for the continued growth of IoT devices, and devices that use 5G mobile networks.

Electoral history[edit]

Washington's 8th congressional district and Washington's 1st congressional district: Results 2010–2020
Year Democratic Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct
2010 Suzan DelBene 148,581 48.0% Dave Reichert (incumbent) 161,296 52.0%
2012 (special) Suzan DelBene 216,144 60.4% John Koster 141,591 39.6%
2012 177,025 53.9% 151,187 46.1%
2014 124,151 55.0% Pedro Celis 101,428 45.0%
2016 193,619 55.4% Robert J. Sutherland 155,779 44.6%
2018 197,209 59.3% Jeffrey Beeler 135,534 40.7%
2020 249,944 58.6% 176,407 41.3% *

* Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 2020, write-ins received 511 votes.

Personal life[edit]

DelBene's husband, Kurt DelBene, is Chief Digital Officer and EVP of Corporate Strategy, Core Services Engineering and Operations at Microsoft Corporation,[33] and led the effort to fix the website at the request of President Barack Obama.[34]

DelBene is a practicing Episcopalian.[35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ As pronounced by herself in the campaign video "Re-Elect Suzan DelBene for Congress! Archived February 16, 2017, at the Wayback Machine"
  2. ^ a b "House Floor Activities: Legislative Day of November 13, 2012". Washington, D.C.: Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives. Archived from the original on September 24, 2017. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  3. ^ "Democrat Suzan DelBene concedes 8th District race". Seattle Times. November 2, 2010. Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved January 10, 2011.
  4. ^ a b Heffter, Emily. "DelBene beats Koster in race for U.S. House". Seattle Times. Archived from the original on January 10, 2014. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  5. ^ a b Valdes, Manuel. "DelBene wins in Wash. 1st District". Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  6. ^ Jonathan Martin DelBene faces tougher fight than expected in 1st District race Archived December 21, 2018, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Gregory Roberts, Democrats target Reichert over his no vote on stimulus Seattle Post-Intelligencer February 23, 2009
  8. ^ "Reed Magazine". Archived from the original on March 8, 2017. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
  9. ^ "Suzan DelBene: Corporate Vice President, Mobile Communications Business". Microsoft. Archived from the original on May 11, 2011. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
  10. ^ Suzan K. DelBene Archived October 16, 2010, at the Wayback Machine Forbes
  11. ^ "Suzan DelBene". Retrieved September 24, 2017.
  12. ^ La Corte, Rachel (November 30, 2010). "Gov. Gregoire appoints Suzan DelBene to cabinet". Seattle Times. Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved January 10, 2011.
  13. ^ Why I'm Running DelBene for Congress
  14. ^ "The Times endorses Suzan DelBene in the 8th Congressional District". Seattle Times. October 12, 2010. Archived from the original on October 15, 2010. Retrieved October 15, 2010.
  15. ^ "Send DelBene to Congress". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. October 13, 2010. Archived from the original on October 15, 2010. Retrieved October 15, 2010.
  16. ^ Ross Hunter endorses Suzan DelBene for Congress Archived March 14, 2010, at the Wayback Machine Bellevue Reporter Aug 3, 2009
  17. ^ Martin, Jonathan (May 12, 2012). "The race is on to fill new 1st Congressional District". Seattle Times. Archived from the original on May 16, 2012. Retrieved May 31, 2012.
  18. ^ "DelBene leading Koster for Congress in 1st Dist. - – Local news". Archived from the original on October 23, 2014. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
  19. ^ "DelBene wins 1st District seat; Larsen wins 2nd District". Associated Press. Archived from the original on June 19, 2015. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
  20. ^ "Congressional District 1". Archived from the original on November 6, 2016. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
  21. ^ "Members". New Democrat Coalition. Archived from the original on February 8, 2018. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  22. ^ "Honorary Congressional Co-Chairs | Womens High Tech Coalition". Retrieved October 22, 2019.
  23. ^ DelBene, Suzan K. (November 17, 2015). "H.R.4027 - 114th Congress (2015-2016): Women's Small Business Ownership Act of 2015". Retrieved October 22, 2019.
  24. ^ "DelBene Bill Supports Women-Owned Small Businesses". U.S. Congresswoman Suzan Delbene. November 17, 2015. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
  25. ^ "Congress Approves Sweeping Protections to America's Parks and Public Lands". U.S. Congresswoman Suzan DelBene.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  26. ^ "DelBene, Kelly, Marshall and Bera Lead Bipartisan Legislation that Helps Medicare Patients by Reducing Prior Authorization Barriers". U.S. Congresswoman Suzan Delbene. June 5, 2019. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
  27. ^ "DelBene Introduces Legislation to Address Mental Health Provider Shortage". U.S. Congresswoman Suzan Delbene. September 13, 2018. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
  28. ^ DelBene, Suzan K. (June 26, 2019). "H.R.3436 - 116th Congress (2019-2020): Chronic Care Management Improvement Act". Retrieved October 22, 2019.
  29. ^ DelBene, Suzan K. (June 4, 2019). "H.R.3077 - 116th Congress (2019-2020): Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2019". Retrieved October 22, 2019.
  30. ^ a b "Cantwell, DelBene, Bipartisan Colleagues Introduce New Legislation to Combat Affordable Housing Crisis". U.S. Congresswoman Suzan Delbene. June 4, 2019. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
  31. ^ "DelBene, Pro-Choice Leaders Issue Joint Statement on President Trump's Title X Domestic Gag Rule". U.S. Congresswoman Suzan Delbene. May 18, 2018. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
  32. ^ Crockett, Emily (April 29, 2016). "Congress has spent 15 months "investigating" Planned Parenthood using McCarthy-like tactics". Vox. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
  33. ^ "Leadership Stories". Archived from the original on October 21, 2018. Retrieved October 15, 2018.
  34. ^ "Kurt Delbene". Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on April 28, 2018. Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  35. ^ Paulsen, David (November 9, 2017). "Episcopalians bring faith perspectives to Congress on both sides of political aisle". Episcopal News Service. Retrieved January 16, 2021.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's 1st congressional district

Party political offices
Preceded by Chair of the New Democrat Coalition
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by United States representatives by seniority
Succeeded by