Jan Schakowsky was elected to represent Illinois' 9th Congressional District in 1998, after serving for eight years in the Illinois State Assembly. She is in her eighth term.
Schakowsky serves in the House Democratic Leadership as Chief Deputy Whip and is a member of the Steering and Policy Committee. She is a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, where she serves on the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, the Subcommittee on Health and the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Democratic Leader Pelosi appointed her to serve on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where she is ranking Democrat on the Oversight Subcommittee.
In 2010, then Speaker Pelosi appointed Schakowsky to serve on President Obama's 18-member National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. She opposed the deficit reduction proposal presented by co-chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson and offered her own approach, which reached the same fiscal goals without cutting Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. The Schakowsky plan addresses the real and growing problem of income disparity – which is at its greatest level since 1928 – and protects middle-class families.
In Congress, Schakowsky focuses on health care and senior issues. She was a leader in passing the historic Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to provide healthcare coverage to all Americans. Schakowsky was responsible for provisions in the law to require improved review of insurance company premiums, nursing home quality protections, and initiatives to increase the number of health care providers, which benefit seniors and all Americans. A champion for the nation's seniors, Schakowsky continues the fight to prevent the privatization of Social Security and Medicare, and to make prescription drugs more affordable. She spearheaded the creation of the Seniors Task Force in the 111th Congress and continues to serve as Co-Chair in the 112th Congress.
Schakowsky believes the number one priority in this Congress is to create jobs and restore a vibrant middle class. She has introduced the Patriot Corporations of America Act, to reward companies that hire American workers and to eliminate tax incentives to businesses for sending jobs overseas. She introduced the Fairness in Taxation Act to create higher tax brackets for millionaires and billionaires. Her legislation would raise over $78 billion in 2011, avoiding the need to make cuts to programs for job creation and training, medical research, education, energy independence, and other national priorities.
A leading advocate for women's issues in Congress, Schakowsky has long been involved in the fight to protect women's reproductive freedom. She continues her work to prevent violence against immigrant women, achieve economic parity, and establish transitional housing for women and children who are victims of abuse. Schakowsky is the sponsor of the International Violence Against Women Act, which would make the safety of women and girls around the world a long overdue U.S. foreign policy priority.
Schakowsky has consistently voted for measures to support Israel's peace and security. She strongly supports helping Israel reach a negotiated two-state solution with the Palestinians. As a Jewish Congresswoman, Schakowsky has a deep personal connection to the State of Israel and pledges a continued friendship.
Throughout her time in Congress, Schakowsky has won major legislative victories. These include important provisions in the Affordable Care Act, laws that protect seniors from abusive terms in reverse mortgages, require greater transparency for military contractors, require the strongest possible mandatory safety standards and testing for infant and toddler products – including high chairs, cribs and bath seats – and also that require strict car safety measures to protect children.
A longtime grassroots organizer and consumer advocate, Schakowsky began her leadership career in 1969 when she led the fight that put freshness dates on products sold in the supermarket. Prior to her election to Congress, Schakowsky represented the 18th District in the Illinois General Assembly for eight years. She served as a Democratic Floor Leader and as Secretary of the Conference of Women Legislators.
For twenty years before her election to the Illinois State House, Schakowsky fought for the public interest and rights of Illinois citizens. As Program Director of Illinois Public Action from 1976 to 1985 – the state's largest public interest organization – Schakowsky fought for energy reform and stronger protection from toxic chemicals. As Director of the Illinois State Council of Senior Citizens from 1985to 1990, she organized across the state for lower cost prescription drugs and tax relief for seniors, financial protection for the spouses of nursing home residents and other benefits for the elderly.
Schakowsky lives in Evanston, Illinois with her husband Robert Creamer. She has three children, Ian, Mary, and stepdaughter Lauren McLaughlin, and four grandchildren, Isabel, Eve, Lucy, and William. She graduated from the University of Illinois in 1965 with a B.S. in Elementary Education.
Caucuses and groups that Schakowsky belongs to:
Equality Caucus, founding member
Trade Working Group
Tom Lantos Human Rights Commissioner
Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus
International Workers Rights Caucus, Chair
Congressional Caucus on Women’s Issues