Fighting for Virginian Women

When I was first elected to Capitol Hill on November 3, 1992, I wasn't just the first U.S. representative for this district - I was the first woman ever to win a congressional race in this state. It was a great honor, but also gave me a great responsibility to continue doing all I could to give women a voice for our issues. I first became politically active as a member of the League of Women Voters in the late 1970s, and I've never lost sight of the things we worked for: equal rights, equal treatment, and greater opportunities for our families.

A Better Life for Our Children

Throughout my time in public service, I've been committed to ensuring that kids really do come first in this country. Be it a better education system, better access to health services, or more assistance for parents in helping to support and raise their families at the same time, I've never stopped working to ensure that our children will receive more than we did. My first vote in Congress helped pass the Family Medical Leave Act after 12 years of stagnation. I went on to champion the first full funding for Head Start programs, and hold the unusual distinction of having two separate measures passed into law early in my first session in Congress – both of which funded immunizations for millions of children who couldn't afford them.

We've backslid in these areas in recent years, and enough is enough. In the 111th Congress, I will work to ensure that we're not just stopping the rollbacks, but actively moving forward. I will make the full funding of Head Start and paid family leave top priorities in the next legislative session, and help fight for fundamental changes to No Child Left Behind.

Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace

Women are greatly undervalued in the workplace. They're financially hurt by the burden of the dual roles they are expected to play, as employee and as heart and soul of their families, where they should be rewarded for filling both roles. The Bush Administration has singularly failed to help working women gain equality at the office, allowing the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to neglect its stated mandate and appointing the Supreme Court justices behind the ridiculous decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear. I'll push to have the EEOC start doing its job again, and I'll join the fight to pass the Ledbetter Equal Pay Bill. We need to bring equal pay for equal work back within reach. Providing tax credits to businesses that provide on-site day care will allow working mothers to have peace of mind and save their salaries, as would expanding federal funding for child care assistance. There's no question that making it easier for women to get child care considerably levels the playing field, and I'll work to broaden those opportunities for all working mothers.

Fighting for Women's Health

Throughout my career, I have strived to get women's health issues the attention they deserve. Whether it's been strengthening laws against domestic violence or pushing for reproductive health parity, I've taken a leadership role where others were content to sit on the sidelines.

I am proud to have an extraordinary pro-choice voting record. I've never wavered from my belief that the government has no place in your decisions about when to start a family, be it through limiting the availability of contraceptives or denying high school students the full range of information about their options. I will vote to end the gag rule on both the national and global levels and will support full funding of Title X. At the same time, we also need to expand the pre- and post-natal care options and child care for working mothers so that all women have access to the care and services they need.

Supporting the ERA

In this day and age, it is outrageous that women are not guaranteed equal rights in the United States. I was gratified to see the 110th Congress reopen the ratification process for the Equal Rights Amendment. In the legislature, I worked with other members to pass the only resolution in Virginia history in support of the ERA, and I will do all I can to make sure that our legislature gets another chance to do the right thing.