Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Cathy McMorris Rodgers
Chair of the House Republican Conference
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Leader John Boehner
Paul Ryan
Preceded by Jeb Hensarling
Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference
In office
January 3, 2009  January 3, 2013
Leader John Boehner
Preceded by Kay Granger
Succeeded by Lynn Jenkins
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's 5th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2005
Preceded by George Nethercutt
Member of the Washington House of Representatives
from the 7th district
In office
January 7, 1994  January 3, 2005
Preceded by Bob Morton
Succeeded by Joel Kretz
Personal details
Born Cathy Anne McMorris
(1969-05-22) May 22, 1969
Salem, Oregon, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Brian Rodgers (2006–present)
Children 3
Alma mater Pensacola Christian College (BA)
University of Washington, Seattle (MBA)
Website House website
Campaign website

Cathy Anne McMorris Rodgers (born May 22, 1969) is an American politician and since 2005 has been the U.S. Representative for Washington's 5th congressional district, which includes Spokane and the eastern third of the state.

She is a member of the Republican Party. From 1994 until 2005, she served in the Washington House of Representatives, rising to become the minority leader. Currently, McMorris Rodgers is the highest ranking Republican woman in Congress, serving as the Chairman of the House Republican Conference. She is only the second woman to serve in that capacity, following former Congresswoman Deborah Pryce, who served from 2003–2007.

Early life and education

Cathy McMorris was born in Salem, Oregon, on May 26, 1969, the daughter of Corene (née Robinson) and Wayne McMorris.[1][2] She is a descendant of pioneers who traveled the Oregon Trail in the early 1850s to the Pacific Northwest where her father's family pursued agriculture and her mother's family worked in the forestry industry.[3] In 1974, when McMorris was five, her family moved to Hazelton, British Columbia in Canada, near Ketchikan, Alaska. The family lived in a cabin while they built their log home on their farm.[4] In 1984, the McMorris family settled in Kettle Falls, Washington and established the Peachcrest Fruit Basket Orchard and Fruit Stand. Cathy McMorris would work there for 13 years.[3][4]

In 1990 she received a BA in Pre-law from Pensacola Christian College, a then-unaccredited Independent Baptist liberal arts college.[5][6] McMorris Rodgers subsequently earned an Executive MBA from the University of Washington in 2002.[7]

According to the Official Congressional Directory, she is a member of Grace Evangelical Free Church, which is an Evangelical Free Church of America in Colville, Washington.[8][9]

Washington House of Representatives

After graduating from Pensacola Christian College, McMorris was hired by State Rep. Bob Morton in 1991.[10] She served as his campaign manager and later his legislative assistant.[11]

She became a member of the state legislature from appointment to the Washington House of Representatives in 1994, which filled the vacancy left when Rep. Bob Morton was appointed to the Washington State Senate.[11] After being sworn into office on January 11, 1994,[10] she represented the 7th Legislative District (parts or all of the counties of Ferry, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Spokane and Stevens). She successfully retained the seat in a 1994 special election.[12]

During her time in the legislature, McMorris was known for defending timber and mining interests from what she described as "regulatory and tax burden," and for supporting conservative social issues. When asked to name an instance when she represented her constituents' interests well, she pointed to a bill she sponsored that allows authorizes judges to conduct procedural hearings by way of television, allowing defendants to be arraigned on television and reducing the time and money to transport defendants to hearings.[13] In 1997, she co-sponsored legislation to ban same-sex marriage in Washington state.[14][15]

In 2001, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, she blocked legislation "to replace all references to 'Oriental' in state documents with 'Asian'", explaining that "I'm very reluctant to continue to focus on setting up different definitions in statute related to the various minority groups. I'd really like to see us get beyond that."[16]

She voted against a 2004 bill to add sexual orientation to the state's anti-discrimination law and was a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage.[1]

She is credited for sponsoring legislation to require the state reimburse rural hospitals for the cost of serving Medicaid patients and for her work overcoming opposition in her own caucus to pass a controversial gas tax used to fund transportation improvements.[17]

From 2002 to 2003, she served as House Minority Leader,[3] the top leadership post for the House Republicans. She was the first woman to lead a House Caucus, and the youngest since World War II. She chaired the House Commerce and Labor Committee, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee, and the State Government Committee.[18] She stepped down as minority leader in 2003 after announcing her bid for Congress.[19]

During her tenure in the legislature, she lived in Colville; she has since moved to Spokane.

U.S. House of Representatives

After serving ten years in the Washington House of Representatives, McMorris in 2004 successfully ran to be a member of the United States House of Representatives and has been held that office since 2005. Subsequently, she has risen to several leadership positions in the Republican caucus.

Freshman term 2005–2007

For the 109th United States Congress, McMorris Rodgers' committee assignments included Armed Services,[3] Natural Resources,[3] and Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans, Education and Labor,[3] Speaker’s High-Tech Working,[3] and Chairwoman of the National Task Force on Improving the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).[20] As the Chairwoman of the NEPA, she held NEPA hearings across the country, reviewing the current implementation of the Act. NEPA has broad economic impacts through permitting and study requirements for transportation, public works projects, important oil and gas development, healthy forests, mining, grazing and other federal projects.[20]

McMorris Rodgers served as the Freshman Class representative on the Steering Committee and on the Republican Whip Team.[3] She also joined the Republican Study Committee, a caucus of conservative House Republicans. Also during her first term in office, she co-sponsored the "Marriage Protection Amendment," an amendment to the Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage that failed to pass the House in 2006.[21]

She actively protected and sought expansion of the Fairchild Air Force Base and worked to keep the base off the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission list.[3] McMorris Rodgers co-introduced health information technology (IT) legislation and is co-leading a statewide health IT task force to position Washington state for future health IT advancements with Congressman Adam Smith, D-WA.[3] In 2005, McMorris Rodgers sponsored the American Competitiveness Amendment to the College Access and Opportunity Act to improve math, science, and critical foreign language education.[3] The bill was moved to the Senate in 2006 and did not become law.[22]

Sophomore term 2007–2009

McMorris in 2009 with Adm. Mike Mullen and Rep. Sanford Bishop.
McMorris in 2009 with Adm. Mike Mullen and Rep. Sanford Bishop.

In 2007, McMorris Rodgers became the Republican co-chairwoman of the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues. The Democratic co-chairwoman was Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif. The caucus has pushed for pay equity, tougher child support enforcement, women's health programs and law protecting victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.[23]

McMorris Rodgers co-founded the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus with Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX) Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy (D-RI), and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).

Third term 2009–2011

On November 19, 2008, McMorris Rodgers was elected to serve as the Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference for the 111th United States Congress, making her the fourth highest ranking Republican in her caucus leadership (after John Boehner, Minority Whip Eric Cantor and Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence) and the highest-ranking Republican woman.[24]

Starting in 2009, she became Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference[25] and served until 2012 when she was succeeded by Lynn Jenkins.[26]

In 2010, Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law by President Obama. Since its passing, the Seattle Times reported that McMorris Rodgers "has been a vocal critic" of the law and "has voted repeatedly to defund or repeal the law."[27]

Fourth term 2011–2013

McMorris Rodgers sponsored the Pharmacy Competition and Consumer Choice Act of 2011.[28] She said that "the bill would increase competition and promote transparency, and it would make the delivery of pharmacy services much more efficient." Conservative groups, including the Americans for Tax Reform and the Cost of Government Center, came out opposed to the bill and it was never voted on.[29] That same year, she sponsored bill H.R.2313 to repeal the authority to provide certain loans to the International Monetary Fund, but it never made it out of committee.[30]

In 2012, National Journal named McMorris Rodgers one of ten Republicans to follow on Twitter.[31]

On November 14, 2012, she defeated Rep. Tom Price of Georgia to become chairwoman of the House Republican Conference.[32]

Fifth term 2013–2015

At the start of the 113th United States Congress, McMorris Rodgers became Chair of the Republican Conference, which is in charge of communicating the party's message to the Republican caucus. As Chair, she helps craft Republican messaging and has appeared as spokesperson for Republican issues.

In March 2013, McMorris Rodgers did not support the continuation of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, but sponsored an alternative that received criticism from Seattle Post-Intelligencer writer Joel Connelly as "watered-down."[33][34] Ultimately, her bill failed and House adopted the Senate version of the bill.[33]

In late 2013, she wrote a letter blasting Democrats and accusing them of being "openly hostile to American values and the Constitution" and citing the Affordable Care Act and immigration as evidence that President Obama "rule[s] by decree."[35] In her position as Chair, she blamed the Affordable Care Act for causing unemployment and when reported studies that proved the opposite and asked her office for evidence to support her claims, "McMorris Rodgers’ office got back to us not with an answer, but with a question."[36]

McMorris Rodgers sponsored legislation that would speed the licensing process for dams and promote energy production. According to a Department of Energy study, retrofitting the largest 100 dams in the country could produce enough power for an additional 3.2 million homes. The legislation reached President Obama’s desk without a single dissenter on Capitol Hill.[37]

In January 2014, it was announced that McMorris Rodgers would be giving the Republican response to President Obama's 2014 State of the Union Address. The decision was made by House Speaker John Boehner and Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell.[38][39] McMorris Rodgers is the twelfth woman to give the response[40] and fifth female Republican, but only the third Republican to do so solo, after New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman in 1995[41] and the Spanish response by Florida Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the most senior female Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, in 2011. Ros-Lehtinen also gave the Spanish response this year, which was largely a translation of McMorris Rogers' remarks.[42]

The following month, the Office of Congressional Ethics recommended the United States House Committee on Ethics initiate a probe into allegations by a former McMorris Rodgers staff member that the congresswoman had improperly mixed campaign money and official funds to help win the 2012 GOP leadership race against Rep. Price. McMorris Rodgers denied the allegations.[43]

After voting dozens of times to repeal Obamacare, in 2014 McMorris Rodgers responded to reports that Obama's program had provided coverage to over 600,000 Washington residents by acknowledging that the law's framework would probably remain and that she favored reforms within its structure.[44]

In March 2015 McMorris Rodgers posted a Facebook comment stating "this week marks the 5th anniversary of #Obamacare being signed into law. Whether it's turned your tax filing into a nightmare, you're facing skyrocketing premiums, or your employer has reduced your work hours, I want to hear about it.".[45] Instead, she found her Facebook page almost exclusively filled with testimonials to the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.[46][47] Despite this, on March 28, 2015 McMorris Rodgers held a press conference about Obamacare in which she said nothing about the overwhelmingly positive comments she'd received from her constituents and instead rehashed five stories lifted from the House Republican leadership website that described problems with Obamacare.[48]

In September 2015, Brett O'Donnell, who worked for Rodgers, plead guilty to lying to House ethics investigators about how much campaign work he did while being paid by lawmakers' office accounts, becoming the first person ever to be convicted of lying to House Office of Congressional Ethics.[49] The OCE found that Rodgers improperly used campaign funds to pay O'Donnell for help in her congressional office and improperly held a debate prep session in her congressional office.[49]

Interest group ratings

2015 2014 2013 2012201120102009 Selected interest group ratings[50]
75 72 72 84 80 96 96 American Conservative Union
0 0 5 0 0 0 0 Americans for Democratic Action
58 62 59 70 61 94 82 Club for Growth
0 0 22 American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
92 92 75 83 90 100 Family Research Council
70 76 72 89 84 National Taxpayers Union
100 93 83 100 100 100 80 Chamber of Commerce of the United States
0 5 4 9 7 3 10 League of Conservation Voters

Committee assignments

McMorris Rodgers is currently on the:[51]

Political campaigns

Rodgers in 2005


In 2004 McMorris received 59.7%[52] of the vote in an open seat, defeating Democratic hotel magnate Don Barbieri. The district had come open when five-term incumbent George Nethercutt ran unsuccessfully ran in the 2004 Washington Senate election.


In November 2006 McMorris Rodgers won re-election with 56.4% of the vote and her Democratic challenger Peter J. Goldmark earned 43.6%.[53]


In 2008, she received 211,305 votes (65.28%) over Democrat Mark Mays' 112,382 votes (34.72%).[54]


She won the 2010 general election with 150,681 votes (64%) and Democrat Daryl Romeyn received 85,686 votes (36%).[55] Romeyn spent only $2,320 against Rodgers' $1,453,240.[56]


For the 2012 general election, Congresswoman Rodgers received 191,066 votes (61.9%) and Democrat Rich Cowan received 117,512 (38.9%).[57]


In 2014, Rodgers faced off against Joe Pakootas, the first Native American candidate to run for Congress in Washington state. Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers received 135,470 votes (60.68%) and Democrat Joe Pakootas received 87,772 (39.32%).[58]


In the 2016 primary election, McMorris Rodgers received the most votes, 60,184 (42.18%) to advance to the general election. She will face Joe Pakootas, her opponent in the 2014 election, who received the second most primary votes, 44,999 (31.54%).[59]


On August 5, 2006, in San Diego, Cathy McMorris married Brian Rodgers, a retired Navy commander and a Spokane, Washington native. Rodgers is a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and the son of David H. Rodgers, the mayor of Spokane from 1967 to 1977. In February 2007, she changed her name to Cathy McMorris Rodgers.[60]

In April 2007, she became the first member of Congress in more than a decade to give birth while in office, with the birth of Cole Rodgers.[61] The couple later announced their child was diagnosed with Down syndrome.[62] A second child, Grace, was born December 2010, and a third, Brynn Catherine, in November 2013.[63][64]


  1. 1 2 Graman, Kevin (October 17, 2004). "McMorris has defended timber, mining industries and supported conservative line on social issues". The Spokesman-Review.
  2. "Vesta Delaney Obituary". Bollman Funeral Home. 2013.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 "Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers". United States House of Representatives. Archived from the original on February 5, 2007. Retrieved February 6, 2007.
  4. 1 2 Graman, Kevin (October 17, 2004). "McMorris has defended timber, mining industries and supported conservative line on social issues". Spokane Spokesman-Review. Archived from the original on November 14, 2004. Retrieved January 28, 2014.
  5. "The choice of Rodgers to respond to Obama reflects her rise within the Republican Party. She is a graduate of Pensacola Christian College, seen as one of the more socially conservative Christian institutions. The Florida college was previously opposed to accreditation but reversed its position and was accredited in 2013." "Can Cathy McMorris Rodgers resurrect compassionate conservatism?". The Washington Post. January 28, 2014. Retrieved January 29, 2014.
  6. Bartlett, Thomas (March 24, 2006). "A College That's Strictly Different". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved April 20, 2010.
  7. "Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.)". Roll Call. 2014. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  8. "FIFTH DISTRICT" (PDF). Official Congressional Directory. 2011.
  9. "He’s the Pastor of Grace Evangelical Free Church in Colville, Washington, where he and his family have been faithfully serving our Lord in ministry to the people of that area for the past 23 years. He’s been my pastor."McMorris Rodgers, Cathy (2010). "McMorris Rodgers' Pastor Tim Goble of Colville Delivers Opening Prayer for Congress". Archived from the original on February 1, 2014. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  10. 1 2 "Youngest Representative in State of Disbelief". The Wenatchee World. January 11, 1994. p. 14.
  11. 1 2 "Sen. Bob Morton announces retirement". December 5, 2012. Retrieved December 23, 2013.
  12. "Election Results". Seattle Times. September 21, 1994. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  13. "Rookie Legislator Makes Mark". The Wenatchee World. March 13, 1994. p. 8.
  14. "Gay-rights Rally Opposes Bills to Ban Same-sex Marriage". the Spokesman-Review. February 4, 1997. p. B6.
  15. "HB 1130 – 1997-98: Reaffirming and protecting the institution of marriage". Washington State Legislature. June 11, 1998.
  16. Galloway, Angela (April 6, 2001). "Effort to excise 'Oriental' from state documents may be revived". Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
  17. "The Times Endorses McMorris in the 5th" (editorial). Seattle Post-Intelligencer. October 22, 2004.
  18. "Biographical Information – McMorris Rodgers, Cathy". Congressional Biographical Directory. United States Congress. Retrieved February 6, 2007.
  19. "Legislative leaders' changing of the guard". Seattle Times. January 11, 2004. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  20. 1 2 McMorris, Cathy (April 8, 2005). "McMorris (WA05) – Issue – Taskforce to Improve the National Environmental Policy Act will highlight its economic impacts on Eastern Washington". Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved December 7, 2011.
  21. "H.J.Res.88 – Marriage Protection Amendment: 109th Congress (2005–2006)". United States House of Representatives. July 18, 2006.
  23. Postman, David (January 22, 2007). "McMorris to head women's caucus". Postman on Politics. The Seattle Times. Retrieved February 6, 2007.
  24. "House Republicans Elect New Leadership Team | Republican Leader John Boehner |". November 19, 2008. Archived from the original on June 15, 2010. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  25. "Vice Chair Accomplishments". 2012. Archived from the original on February 1, 2014. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  26. "Jenkins Elected as House Republican Conference Vice Chair". November 14, 2012. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  27. "Spokane's McMorris Rodgers to give GOP response to Obama address". Seattle Times. January 23, 2014. Archived from the original on October 30, 2014. Retrieved January 29, 2014.
  28. "Bill Summary & Status – 112th Congress (2011–2012) – H.R.1971". Library of Congress. Retrieved May 17, 2012.
  29. "Norquist says Republican pharmacy proposal 'incentivizes' Medicare fraud". Elise Viebeck. The Hill. April 27, 2012. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  30. "Bill Summary & Status – 112th Congress (2011–2012) – H.R.2313". Library of Congress. Retrieved May 17, 2012.
  31. "Ten Republicans to follow on Twitter," by Adam Mazmanian, National Journal, August 27, 2012, Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  32. Bendavid, Naftali (November 14, 2012). "McMorris Rodgers Gets GOP House Post". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 26, 2014.
  33. 1 2 "Washington's McMorris Rodgers will respond to Obama". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. January 23, 2014. Retrieved January 29, 2014.
  34. Bendery, Jennifer. "Violence Against Women Act Senate Vote Next Week". Elect Women. Retrieved March 16, 2013.
  35. "Democrats 'openly hostile to American values,' say Rep. McMorris Rodgers". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. December 16, 2013. Retrieved January 29, 2014.
  36. "Is Obamacare Causing Health Care Layoffs?". January 17, 2014. Retrieved January 29, 2014.
  38. Cowan, Richard (January 23, 2014). "Republican congresswoman to rebut Obama State of Union speech". Reuters.
  39. Michael, O'Brien (January 23, 2014). "GOP taps top-ranking woman to deliver SOTU response". NBC News.
  40. "Republicans pitch Washington state Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers as a rising star". Miami Herald. January 28, 2014.
  41. Ostermeier, Eric (January 27, 2014). "A Brief History of Republican SOTU Responses". Smart Politics.
  42. "Ros-Lehtinen to deliver Spanish SOTU response". The Hill. January 28, 2014. Retrieved January 28, 2014.
  43. Sherman, Jake (February 6, 2014). "GOP Conference chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers faces possible ethics inquiry". Politico.
  44. Hill, Kip (April 25, 2014). "McMorris Rodgers says ACA likely to stay". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved April 27, 2014.
  45. "This week marks the 5th anniversary of #Obamacare being signed into law. Whether it's turned your tax filing into a nightmare, you're facing skyrocketing premiums, or your employer has reduced your work hours, I want to hear about it. Please share your story with me so that I can better understand the challenges you're facing:". Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Facebook. March 23, 2015. External link in |title= (help)
  46. Connelly, Joel (March 26, 2015). "Home folk tell Rep. McMorris Rodgers: Don't mess with Obamacare". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved March 26, 2015.
  47. Benen, Steve (March 27, 2015). "McMorris Rogers gets an earful on ACA". The Rachel Maddow Show. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
  48. Hayden, Jen (March 27, 2015). "Republican congresswoman doesn't back down on Obamacare horror stories. Just one little problem ...". Daily Kos.
  49. 1 2 "GOP consultant admits lying to ethics investigators". Retrieved 2015-09-13.
  50. "Cathy McMorris Rodgers". 2014. Retrieved January 26, 2014.
  51. McMorris Rodgers, Cathy (2014). "Committee Work". Archived from the original on February 28, 2014. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  52. "2004 General Election > Federal Offices > Results". Washington Secretary of State. Archived from the original on February 5, 2012. Retrieved December 7, 2011.
  53. "2006 General Election Results". Washington Secretary of State. May 9, 2007. Archived from the original on February 5, 2012. Retrieved December 7, 2011.
  54. "Congressional District 5 – U.S. Representative – County Results". Washington Secretary of State. 2008. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  55. "Washington U.S. House #5". NBC. 2010. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  56. "Cathy McMorris Rodgers". Open Secrets. 2014. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  57. "Congressional District 5 – U.S. Representative – County Results". Washington Secretary of State. 2012. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  58. "Congressional District 5 – U.S. Representative – County Results". Washington Secretary of State. 2012. Retrieved January 25, 2015.
  59. "Washington Secretary of State".
  60. "Congresswoman changes name to McMorris Rodgers, WA". February 1, 2007. The Associated Press News Service.
  61. Cannata, Amy (April 30, 2007). "It's A Boy". Spokesman Review. Retrieved December 7, 2011.
  62. McMorris Rodgers, Cathy (2008). "My Down Syndrome Story". Archived from the original on February 3, 2014. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  63. Barone, Michael; Chuck McCutcheon (2011). "Washington/Fifth District". The Almanac of American Politics (2012 ed.). University of Chicago Press, National Journal Group, Inc. pp. 1716–1718. ISBN 978-0-226-03808-7.
  64. Igor Bobic (November 25, 2013). "Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers Gives Birth To Daughter". Talking Points Memo. Retrieved January 26, 2014.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cathy McMorris Rodgers.
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
George Nethercutt
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's 5th congressional district

Party political offices
Preceded by
Kay Granger
Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference
Succeeded by
Lynn Jenkins
Preceded by
Jeb Hensarling
Chair of the House Republican Conference
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Patrick McHenry
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Gwen Moore
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