BioJan Schakowsky was elected to represent Illinois' 9th Congressional District on November 3, 1998, after serving for eight years in the Illinois State Assembly. In this Congress, the 112th, she is in her seventh term.
Schakowsky serves in the House Democratic Leadership as Chief Deputy Whip and as a member of the Steering and Policy Committee. She is a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, where she was a leader in passing legislation to provide healthcare coverage for all Americans. On that committee, she serves on the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, the Subcommittee on Health and the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
Schakowsky serves on the House Select Committee on Intelligence; she was first appointed to sit on this Committee by then Speaker Pelosi in 2007.
In 2010, then Speaker Pelosi appointed Schakowsky to serve on President Obama's 18-member National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which presented its final report to the President in December 2010. Schakowsky is committed to finding solutions that reduce the deficit without undermining the essential protections provided by Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. She put out her own proposal, which achieved deficit reduction while protecting the middle class, seniors and the poor; she voted against the Commission’s formal report.
A leading advocate for women's issues in Congress, Schakowsky continues to sponsor and support legislation that would prevent violence against immigrant women, achieve economic parity, and establish transitional housing for women and children who are victims of abuse. She also has been a staunch defender of such rights for women internationally and is an original sponsor of the International Violence Against Women Act, which will make the safety of women and girls around the world a long overdue U.S. foreign policy priority. During the 111th Congress, Schakowsky serves as Democratic Co-Chair of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues.
In the House, Schakowsky has won major legislative victories throughout her time in Congress. She played a critical role in the passage of comprehensive health care reform in the 111th Congress, which, among many other protections, is ending the nightmare of being denied insurance coverage because of a preexisting condition. 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. In the 110th Congress, Schakowsky sponsored and lead the Consumer Protection Safety Improvement Act to passage, which put mandatory safety standards and testing in place as well as mandatory standards and testing for infant and toddler products, including high chairs and cribs.
A champion for the nation's seniors, Schakowsky has worked 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 is also working to ensure that seniors receive quality home, nursing and hospice care.
Schakowsky has consistently voted for measures to support Israel's peace and security. She strongly supports helping Israel reach a negotiated two-state solution. As a Jewish Congresswoman, Schakowsky has a deep personal connection to the State of Israel and pledges a continued friendship.
Schakowsky opposed the Iraq war resolution and was a founding member of the Out-of-Iraq Caucus.
A steadfast supporter of immigration reform, Schakowsky is an original co-sponsor of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform ASAP Act. For the 12 million undocumented immigrants not living in the United States, it will set a pathway to legalization, allow families to stay intact, protect workers, and keep America safe.
Schakowsky has fought throughout her career for economic and social justice and improved quality of life for all. She believes that all people should have equal protections and rights under the law, and she is a founding member and Vice-Chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus, which promotes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality in the U.S. and around the world.
Additional legislative victories include increasing the federal assistance for abused women and children and protecting the rights of battered immigrant women; reforming election laws guaranteeing that no registered voter is turned away at the poll; expansion of housing for low-income people; and broadening assistance to small business owners and farmers.
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 prior to her election to the State House, Schakowsky fought for the public interest and rights of Illinois citizens. As Program Director of Illinois Public Action (1976-1985), the state's largest public interest organization, she fought for energy reform and stronger protection from toxic chemicals. As Director of the Illinois State Council of Senior Citizens from 1985-1990, 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. She has been deeply involved in the fight to protect women's reproductive freedom.
Schakowsky resides 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.