At a Glance
- Career History: Florida State Senator (2000 to 2004); Florida State Representative (1992 to 2000); Legislative Aide (1989 to 1992)
- Birthday: Sept. 27, 1966
- Hometown: Queens, N.Y.
- Alma Mater: University of Florida, B.A. 1988, M.A. 1990
- Spouse: Steve Schultz
- Religion: Jewish
- Committees: House Judiciary ; House Budget
- DC Office: 118 Cannon House Office Building, Washington DC, 20510, 202-225-7931
Path to Power
Wasserman Schultz grew up on Long Island where she was a frequent loser of student council races. In 1984 she began college at the University of Florida, where she earned a B.A. in 1988, and an M.A. in 1990, both in political science. After graduation she worked as an aide to Florida state Rep. Peter Deutsch (D), an early political mentor whose state House seat she won in 1992.
At the age of 26, Wasserman Schultz was the youngest woman ever elected to the Florida House where she served for eight years, two as the minority leader. She subsequently served for four years as a state senator. During her time in the state legislature, Wasserman Schultz passed significant legislation that increased insurance coverage for women's health care, raised funding for public education, outlawed sex trafficking and established life-saving regulations on private swimming pools.
In her first term in the House, Wasserman Schultz grabbed the national media spotlight during the debate over critically-injured Florida patient Terri Schiavo. She fiercely opposed President George W. Bush and House Republicans by arguing that Congress would set a dangerous precedent if it intervened in the Schiavo case.
An early legislative accomplishment was the designation of the month of May as Jewish American Heritage Month, a measure the House passed unanimously.
Months before the 2004 Democratic primary in her first House race, Wasserman Schultz gained the support of then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and said she would do everything possible to see Pelosi named House speaker. Pelosi has praised Wasserman Schultz's intelligence and diligence.
Once in the House, Wasserman Schultz's rapid rise is attributable in part to the positive impression she made on then-Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), who tapped her as a chief deputy whip. And she owed her Appropriations "cardinal" position to her good relationship with then-House Appropriations Committee Chairman Dave Obey (D-Wis.).