BioSusan attended public school in northern California. She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in sociology. After college she worked with at-risk youths in Israel and also lived on a kibbutz. When Susan returned to the United States, she earned a master’s degree in social work at the University of North Carolina. When her husband Steve honored his military service, the family joined him in Japan. Afterward, the family settled in San Diego in 1972. Today, Susan and Steve are the proud grandparents of Henry,Jane and Theo.
Prior to Congress, Susan served in the California State Assembly (1994-2000). She served three terms and focused on what would become her signature issues – education, health care, and consumer protection. She chaired the Committee on Consumer Protection, Government Efficiency, and Economic Development.
In the House, Susan has approached legislating as a bipartisan consensus builder achieving successes in education, military families and veterans support, health care, and election reform.
Education – In addition to her state legislative experience, Susan also brought to Congress nine years of experience as a member of the San Diego Unified Board of Education (1983-1992). As a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, Susan has played a key role in bringing reforms and improvements to primary, secondary and higher education. She wrote the law to provide flexibility to college students receiving work-study funds during natural disasters such as the recent fires in Southern California. Plus, she made work-study funds available to college students who work to educate the community in civic education and disaster preparedness.
Susan has long promoted the virtues of positive role models and passed legislation promoting youth mentoring. In the early 90’s, she was the Executive Director of the Aaron Price Fellows program designed to teach multi-ethnic high school students leadership and citizenship skills. She has mentored many young people instilling in them a sense of community involvement and participation.
Health Care - Susan has worked to build on the foundation of her success in giving California women direct access to their OB/GYN and providing patients the option of a second medical opinion. This experience and her position on the Education and Labor Committee, will be influential as she joins her colleagues in reforming health care to lower costs, prevent the denial of care, and give all Americans a choice of private or public health care coverage. As a former medical social worker, Susan recognizes the need for accessible and affordable quality health care.
During the debate in how to re-invest in America’s priorities, Susan led an effort in the House to include billions of new funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (H.R.1) to promote research, innovation and discovery to find new ways to fight and cure diseases such as AIDS and cancer.
Election Reform - As a former president of the San Diego League of Women Voters, Susan understands the importance of fairness and integrity in our election process. In Congress, she has emerged as a leader in election reform. As a member of the House Administration Committee, which has jurisdiction over federal elections, Susan has led the effort in Congress to make no-excuse absentee balloting available to all Americans in every state and territory. She also wants to raise the integrity level of our elections by allowing voters to track their absentee ballots and by blocking any chief state election official from working or serving on a federal campaign while overseeing a federal election.
National Defense and Military Families - Representing San Diego, with its large military presence, Susan has been a strong advocate for military families. She also draws on her experience living overseas as her husband served in Japan in the Air Force during the final years of the Vietnam War. As Chairwoman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel, she has been at the forefront on issues that directly impact service members and their families, such as increases in pay and benefits, improved housing and a health care system worthy of their service and sacrifice.
When Susan learned from a constituent that some service members are blocked from having the Supreme Court review their legal cases within the military justice system, she introduced legislation to correct this injustice. The Equal Justice for Our Military Act will give all service members access to the Supreme Court. Our nation’s men and women in uniform should not be denied access to the very judicial system they fight to protect.
In 2008, Susan was presented with the Colonel Arthur T. Marix Congressional Leadership Award by the Military Officers Association of America for her work on behalf of military families.
Veterans - Susan’s father served as a medic in World War II. In addition to these experiences and San Diego’s large veteran population, Susan is keenly aware of the needs and concerns of our nation’s veterans. She had the honor to serve on the House Committee on Veterans Affairs for three years. She still influences veterans policy on the all the committees she serves. She wrote the laws that increased home loan limit guarantees for veterans, included veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the Cal-Vet home loan program, and expanded education benefits. She has also been a consistent supporter for increasing health care funding and overall benefits for veterans.