BackgroundCongresswoman Kaptur, a native Toledoan, lives in the same modest house where she grew up.
Congresswoman Kaptur is a Polish-American with humble, working class roots. Her family operated a small grocery store and her mother later served on the original organizing committee of a trade union at the Champion Spark Plug factory in Toledo.
After graduating from St. Ursula Academy, she became the first member of her family to attend college, earning a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Wisconsin (1968) and later a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Michigan.
After working for 15 years as a city and regional planner, primarily in Toledo and Chicago, she accepted an appointment as a domestic policy advisor to President Jimmy Carter. During his Administration, she helped maneuver 17 housing and neighborhood revitalization bills through Congress.
In CongressIn 1981, while pursuing a doctorate in urban planning and development finance at MIT, she was recruited by the Lucas County Democratic Party to run for Congress against a first-term Republican. Although she was outspent by a 3-to-1 margin, Kaptur parlayed a strong economic message during the 1982 recession to stage a nationally-recognized upset.
In Washington, Kaptur fought vigorously to win a seat on the House Appropriations Committee. Today she is the ranking member on the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, which is appropriate given that the Ninth District hugs the Lake Erie coastline from Cleveland to Toledo.
Congresswoman Kaptur also is the first Democratic woman ever to serve on the powerful Defense Subcommittee. There, she is a strong advocate for national security, energy independence and adequate support for the armed forces.
She is also a member of the Financial Services Subcommittee. Earlier in her congressional career, she served on the Banking Committee. She served on the Budget Committee as recently as the 112th Congress.
Federal Investments in Northern OhioCongresswoman Kaptur is widely credited with bringing back federal dollars to partner with local communities on crucial transportation and infrastructure projects:
- The I-280 Veterans' Glass City Skyway, which is the the largest bridge project in Ohio's history
- Toledo's Farmers' Market, which has expanded substantially with assistance secured by Congresswoman Kaptur
- The Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge visitors center
- Cranes and other heavy equipment for the Port of Toledo
- State-of-the-art solar power array at the 180th Fighter Wing
- The Center for Innovative Food Technology
- Solar energy research projects at the University of Toledo
- The Lake Erie Center
The National World War II Memorial
Photo: American Battle Monuments Commission
Dedication ceremonies, May 29, 2004
Seventeen years later, on a sunny May 29, 2004, Congresswoman Kaptur spoke as a crowd estimated at 150,000 people, including three presidents, gathered for the long-awaited dedication of the National World War II Memorial. “What a privilege it has been to carry this dream forward for 17 years,” she said.
President George W. Bush accepted the memorial on behalf of the American people, calling it a “fitting tribute, open and expansive, like America: grand and enduring, like the achievements we honor.”
Roger Durbin had died four years earlier, but he was remembered and honored prominently during the ceremony. The memorial today is one of the most popular and beloved attractions in Washington, D.C. World War II veterans, now in their mid-eighties and nineties, are treated as heroes there every day.
Defense and National SecurityCongresswoman Kaptur’s effort on the memorial and her advocacy on behalf of veterans led the Veterans of Foreign Wars to honor her with their prestigious Americanism Award. She has also received the Prisoner of War "Barbed Wire" Award for her commitment to veterans' affairs.
She championed the cause of workers who got sick after exposure to beryllium by guiding a major piece of legislation to passage on their behalf. She has secured funding for a pathbreaking study into the incidence of post-traumatic stress disorders and other mental health issues among our armed forces. And she helped lead a community effort to save the 180th Fighter Wing in Toledo when it was threatened by the base closure commission.
International AffairsCongresswoman Kaptur has always shown strong interest in America’s standing in the world and its relations with other countries.
She currently serves on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China and co-chairs the Congressional Hungarian Caucus and also the Ukraine Caucus.
A strong supporter of Middle East peace, she directed the first surplus farm commodities in 1999 to support the peace process in Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Congresswoman Kaptur remains dedicated to the development of democratic institutions globally.
She has spearheaded private charitable efforts to alleviate suffering in nations such as Ukraine and Vietnam.
As leader on issues related to international trade and human and labor rights, Kaptur has led the fight for fair trade laws, dating back to her opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement. . Awards
In 1993, Congresswoman Kaptur was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree by the University of Toledo in recognition of her "effective representation of the community." St. Ursula Academy named Kaptur Alumna of the Year in 1995.
She is recipient of the Taubman College Distinguished Alumna award from the University of Michigan, making her the first woman so recognized and the first graduate of the Urban and Regional Planning Program to be so honored. Kaptur recently received the Director's Award from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University for her commitment to increased understanding and appreciation of the peoples and cultures of Eurasia, Russia and East Europe.
She was named the National Mental Health Association's "Legislator of the Year" for her championing mental health and received the 2002 Ellis Island Medal of Honor.
Kaptur is also the author of a book, Women in Congress: A Twentieth Century Odyssey, that was published by Congressional Quarterly in 1996.
Dedicated to the principle that fiscal responsibility begins in "one's own backyard," Congresswoman Kaptur has consistently returned money to the federal Treasury. She refuses to accept Congressional pay raises and donates them to offset the federal deficit and charitable causes in her home community.