915 Second Avenue, Suite 3206
Seattle, Washington 98174
Home Town: Indianapolis, IN
Committees: Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Energy and Natural Resources, Indian Affairs, Small Businesses and Entrepreneurship
Maria Cantwell was sworn in as a United States Senator from the State of Washington on January 3, 2001, pledging to carry on the legacy of dedicated service established by former Senators Warren Magnuson and Scoop Jackson.
As a U.S. Senator, Maria has worked hard to help boost Washington's economy and create jobs by supporting longtime state industries such as aerospace, trade, and agriculture, and by cultivating new ones, such as software and biotechnology. She has fought for better education opportunities for our children and greater access to quality health care. Maria has been a steadfast supporter of environmental protection and a defender of a woman's right to choose.
One of Maria's top priorities is improving Washington state's economy. She has been a champion for small businesses and our state's high-tech sector. In addition, she has worked to provide worker training for those employees who lost their jobs in the recent recession. Maria also led the efforts to open a number of foreign markets to Washington state agricultural products for the first time â€“ allowing Washington farmers to ship apples, peas, and lentils to Cuba and to sell potatoes in Mexico. She also helped open the British Columbia wine market to more Washington wineries.
She is also committed to working to protect businesses and consumers alike. A keystone of her work on national energy policy has been her fight to ban market manipulation tactics like those used by Enron to defraud both ratepayers and businesses of billions of dollars. She has also fought identity theft, the nation's fastest-growing crime, by seeking to empower victims and law enforcement to respond to this growing problem.
Maria has also been a leader in protecting our environment. She continues to work to see the Wild Sky Wilderness created, and has worked to protect our wild rivers and roadless areas. She has also been a stalwart defender of the Marine Mammals Protection Act and the Northwest's orcas.
Throughout her career, Maria has remained true to the values and tradition of public service she learned from her family. The second of five children, she was raised in a modest home in a working class Irish neighborhood. She developed a love of public service and community involvement at an early age; a love passed down to her by her parents and grandparents. Maria worked to pay her way through college, and was the first in her family to earn a college degree.
After starting an independent business in Seattle, Maria led a successful effort to build a new library in Mountlake Terrace. After building the coalition for the library, she decided to run for state office. At the age of 28, she was elected to the state legislature.
Maria rapidly established a reputation as someone who could bring people together and make things happen. She's remembered by many as the architect of the State's Growth Management Act, which she shepherded through a marathon 65-day session. This and other accomplishments, such as her work on behalf of a state family and medical leave law, earned her a high degree of respect among her peers of both parties. â€œMaria is still the best legislator I ever served with,â€ said former House Speaker Joe King.
In 1992, she ran for Congress and was elected a U.S. Representative for Washington's First District, north of Seattle. As a member of Congress, Maria supported landmark legislation such as the Family and Medical Leave Act and the 1993 deficit reduction plan.
Representing many of the world's most influential software and technology firms, she learned the issues and stood up for this vital sector of our economy. She is well-regarded in Internet circles for fighting against archaic export restrictions on software encryption products and for helping to defeat the infamous Clipper Chip proposal.
After leaving Congress in 1995, Maria joined a software start-up in Seattle. As Senior Vice President of Consumer Products at RealNetworks, she helped create 1,000 jobs in Washington state.
In early 2000, Maria decided to return to public service. In November, she was elected to the U.S. Senate, promising to fight for political reform and help expand opportunity for everyone who lives in Washington state.