Cathy McMorris Rodgers Biography

U.S. Representative (1969–)
Republican U.S. Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers is best known for being the highest ranking Republican female in the House of Representatives.


Cathy McMorris Rodgers was born on May 22, 1969 in Salem, Oregon, where she was raised on a farm. She was the first in her family to attend and graduate from college. From there, she went on to serve in the Washington State House of Representatives, and later the U.S. House of Representatives, where she quickly rose in the ranks and became one of the four highest-ranking Republicans, as well as the highest-ranking Republican woman.

Early Life

Republican Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers spent much of her early life on a farm. She was born in Salem, Oregon on May 22, 1969, to the descendants of pioneers who traveled the Oregon Trail, and spent some 13 years working for the Peachcrest Fruit Basket Orchard and Fruit Stand—a family owned and operated business.

McMorris Rodgers went on to attend Pensacola Christian College, where she earned a bachelor's in pre-law in 1990. In 2002, she earned her Executive Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Washington. She was the first person in her family to attend and graduate from college.

Political Career

McMorris Rodgers began her political career in the Washington House of Representatives in 1994. She was elected to represent the 7th Legislative district four times, and from 2002 to 2003, she served as House Minority Leader—the top leadership post for House Republicans. McMorris Rodgers was the first woman to lead a House Caucus, and the youngest to do so since World War II.

In 2004, McMorris Rodgers was elected as U.S. Representative for Washington's 5th Congressional district. She quickly rose in the ranks during her first two terms in office, joining the Republican Study Committee—a caucus of conservative House Representatives—serving as chairwoman of the National Task Force on Improving the National Environmental Policy Act, becoming the Republican co-chairwoman of the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues and co-founding the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus.

During McMorris Rodgers's third term, she was elected to serve as vice chair of the House Republican Conference. The position made her the highest-ranking Republican woman on Capitol Hill. McMorris Rodgers is also one of only eight women to have given birth while serving in Congress, and the only one who has done it twice.

In her fourth term—second as the vice chairman of the Republican Conference—McMorris Rodgers championed job-creating economic policies and expressed support for repealing the Affordable Care Act. Her top political priorities include women's issues and other social issues, as well as international and economic issues.

In early 2012, it was rumored that McMorris Rodgers could be a possible running mate for Mitt Romney, Republican nominee for the United States presidency in 2012. In a May 2012 blog post for The Huffington Post, public policy analyst Stewart Lawrence called McMorris Rodgers the best qualified vice-presidential candidate for 2012. Lawrence wrote that despite having "impeccable conservative credentials," McMorris Rodgers's rise in Congress has been overshadowed by the emergence of "more flamboyant" Tea Party-aligned figures like Sarah Palin and Rep. Michele Bachmann, and recently elected Republican female governors Nikki Haley (South Carolina) and Susana Martinez (New Mexico).

Despite McMorris Rodgers's qualifications, Romney announced U.S. Republican Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate for vice president in August 2012.

Personal Life

In August 2005, McMorris Rodgers married retired Navy Commander Brian Rodgers, whose father served as mayor of Spokane, Washington, from 1967 to 1977. The couple has a son, Cole, who was born in 2007 with down syndrome; daughters, Grace, who was born in 2010 and Brynn, born in 2013.

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