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Senator Patty Murray

Self Description

April 2008: "Patty Murray never planned to enter politics, but today she’s serving her third term in the U.S. Senate as a member of the Democratic Leadership. From the classroom to the Congress, Patty Murray has been an effective advocate for Washington’s working families. Originally known for her work on education and children’s issues, Murray has become a leading figure on transportation, border and port security, healthcare, and economic development.

In the 1980’s, when a state politician told her she “couldn’t make a difference,” Murray led a grassroots coalition of 13,000 parents to save a local preschool program from budget cuts. She went on to serve on the local school board, and in 1988 was elected to the Washington State Senate. In 1992, Murray ran for the United States Senate as a voice for Washington families who were not being heard in the Senate. Dramatically outspent, Murray ran a grassroots campaign of family, friends, supporters, and public interest groups to beat a 10-year veteran of the U.S. House of Representatives and become the first woman to represent Washington state in the U.S. Senate. In 1998 and 2004, she was re-elected by a wide margin and is currently Washington’s senior Senator...

Patty Murray has drawn on her experience as a PTA member and a school board president to make education a national priority. She successfully sponsored the bill to help schools hire new, qualified teachers to reduce class size. She has worked to increase Pell grants to make college more affordable and is a national advocate for disadvantaged, homeless, and migrant students.

Senator Murray serves as the chair of the Senate Transportation Appropriations subcommittee, which writes the nation’s transportation and housing budget. Murray has advocated for increases in highway funding to help alleviate the transportation problems facing Washington state and communities around the country. She convened Senate hearings on port security and cargo security, and co-authored the landmark SAFE Ports Act, which dramatically improved port and cargo security.

In 2001 Patty Murray wrote the bill that increased the Coast Guard’s budget by 10 percent. Later that year, she stood her ground in the face of a Presidential veto threat to require that Mexican long-haul trucks comply with U.S. safety standards before being allowed to travel throughout this country.

Murray has helped Washington state address its transportation woes by dramatically increasing the annual funding the state receives for specific projects including roads, bridges, railways, airports, and ferries in every corner of the state.

Senator Murray has also made access to health care a top priority. As doctors in Washington state have started closing their practices or refusing to see new Medicare patients, Patty Murray has worked to increase payments to doctors to reverse the trend. She wrote and continues to push for legislation to bring Medicare reimbursement rates for Washington state up to the national average. Murray has supported funding for rural health clinics, and she co-sponsored the Nurse Reinvestment Act, which will help bring more nurses into the profession.

The first woman elected to the Senate from Washington state, Murray has been a champion for women and families. She has spearheaded efforts to close the pay gap, protect women in retirement, and increase access to child care. Murray helped write and pass the historic Violence Against Women Act of 1994 and helped reauthorize it in 2000 and 2005.

Murray has also worked to improve opportunities for Washington’s rural communities. She has worked to open new agricultural trade markets overseas, to strengthen the farm safety net and to assist farm workers. She was instrumental in passing the 2002 Farm Bill. Murray has also initiated an effort to bring hi-speed Internet access to rural areas that commercial providers have neglected.

Senator Murray is a strong advocate for protecting our environment. She has increased funding for environmental programs, repeatedly opposed harmful, anti-environmental riders to appropriations bills, and sponsored several pieces of environmental legislation such as the Wild Sky Wilderness Act, which would protect 106,000 acres in Snohomish County, Washington. The area would promote clean water, protect wildlife, and add low-level habitat to Washington’s protected lands.

After a terrible gas pipeline explosion in Bellingham, Washington in 1999, Murray developed legislation to improve pipeline safety. Working across party lines, she took on the oil and gas industry and got Congress to pass Pipeline Safety legislation in 2002. Because of Murray’s efforts, every oil and gas pipeline in the nation must now be inspected regularly.

Murray is a champion for Washington's 670,000 veterans. She is the daughter of a disabled World War II veteran, and today she is the first woman to serve on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. She brought the Veteran Affairs Secretary to Washington state for hearings on Gulf War Syndrome and has worked to improve health care access for veterans. Murray wrote the law that ensures all veterans can have military funeral honors. She has been honored for her work by the Vietnam Veterans of America, American Ex-POWs, the VFW, the Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.

Murray has been a long-time advocate for increased resources at the Northern Border and worked to provide funding to triple the number of border agents to help keep communities along the Northern Border and across America safe.

She is a leading voice in Congress to protect a woman’s right to choose and has sponsored efforts to make emergency contraceptives available in hospitals and to require insurance companies that cover Viagra to also cover contraception.

Born in Bothell, Washington, Murray is one of seven children. Her father earned the Purple Heart as one of the first G.I.’s to land on Okinawa. He returned home to run a local five and ten cents shop on Main Street in Bothell. Her mother was a homemaker and accountant. Murray is a graduate of Washington State University. She is married to Rob Murray and has two grown children, Sara and Randy. Randy and his wife Erin have a son, Aidan, the Murrays' first grandchild. Patty Murray enjoys fishing, exploring Washington state’s great outdoors and spending time with her family.

Senator Murray’s committee assignments include:

  • Appropriations
  • Budget
  • Health, Education, Labor and Pension
  • Rules and Administration
  • Veterans Affairs

Within the Appropriations Committee, Murray is the Chairman of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee. She also serves on the following Appropriations subcommittees:

  • Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee
  • Energy and Water Development Subcommittee
  • Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee
  • Defense Subcommittee
  • Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee
  • Homeland Security Subcommittee

Within the HELP Committee, Murray is Chairman of the Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee, and also sits on:

  • Education and Early Childhood Development Subcommittee"

Third-Party Descriptions

December 2008: 'Before the bulletin's eventual publication in July 2006, which occurred after heavy pressure by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), OSHA omitted a statement that brake-lining imports commonly contained asbestos. It also modified its warning that linings were "a substantial source of exposure," referring instead to "potential exposure."'

June 2008: "Senators Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, and Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, introduced the proposal after an article in The New York Times identified several lenders that had stopped offering federally guaranteed loans at community colleges and some four-year institutions."

April 2008: "Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), head of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees HUD, said March 21 that Jackson had become unfit to lead the agency."

March 2008: "Dodd and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, demanded Jackson's resignation 10 days ago, saying the ethics allegations have distracted from the secretary's ability to handle the nation's housing crisis."


RoleNameTypeLast Updated
Member of (past or present) Democratic Party / Democratic National Committee (DNC) Organization Apr 2, 2008
Member of (past or present) US Senate Organization Apr 2, 2008
Student/Trainee (past or present) Washington State University - Pullman Organization Oct 28, 2008

Articles and Resources

Date Resource Read it at:
Nov 16, 2009 Work-Related Injuries Underreported

QUOTE: Employers and workers routinely underreport work-related injuries and illnesses, calling into question the accuracy of nationwide data that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration compiles each year, the Government Accountability Office said Monday.

New York Times
Sep 04, 2009 W.T.O. Says Aid to Airbus for A380 Was Illegal

QUOTE: A preliminary report by the World Trade Organization has found that Airbus received illegal subsidies for the $13 billion A380 superjumbo jet and several other airplanes, hurting Boeing in the battle for sales...

New York Times
Aug 17, 2009 Clash Over Rebirth of Mt. St. Helens

QUOTE: Some say the Forest Service should manage it [Mount St. Helens] differently. “There is a certain segment of the population who would say, ‘It’s been 30 years [since Mount St. Helen's major eruption], and it’s over,’ ” said Peter Frenzen, whose job title with the Forest Service is monument scientist.

New York Times
Dec 29, 2008 Under Bush, OSHA Mired in Inaction

QUOTE: Current and former career officials at OSHA say that such sagas were a recurrent feature during the Bush administration, as political appointees ordered the withdrawal of dozens of workplace health regulations, slow-rolled others, and altered the reach of its warnings and rules in response to industry pressure.

Washington Post
Jun 18, 2008 Bill Promotes Universal College Loans

QUOTE: Responding to reports that some lenders have stopped offering federal loans at community and other colleges, two Democratic senators introduced legislation Tuesday to prohibit lenders from picking and choosing among institutions. Under the proposal, lenders that participate in the federal loan program would have to extend credit to any eligible student, regardless of such things as income or the number of years of education, as long as the college is part of the program.

New York Times
Jun 07, 2008 Concerned About Costs, Congress Pushes Curbs on Doctor-Owned Hospitals

QUOTE: For years, Democrats have been trying to stop the proliferation of doctor-owned hospitals, in the belief that they drive up costs by encouraging doctors to order more procedures. Now Democrats in Congress are moving to impose new restrictions on these for-profit hospitals, but they have carved out exemptions for a few institutions represented by influential senators and well-connected lobbyists.

New York Times
Apr 13, 2008 HUD Chief Inattentive To Crisis, Critics Say: Jackson's Tenure Ending

QUOTE: As [housing Secretary Alphonso] Jackson leaves office this week, much of the attention on his tenure has been focused on investigations into whether his agency directed housing contracts to his friends and political allies. But critics say an equally significant legacy of his four years as the nation's top housing officer was gross inattention to the looming housing crisis.

Washington Post
Mar 31, 2008 HUD chief resigns amid ethics investigations

QUOTE: Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson resigned Monday, amid multiple ethics investigations and criticism from top lawmakers.... Jackson has recently been accused in a lawsuit of retaliating against housing officials in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for blocking a land deal with one of Jackson's friends. The FBI has been investigating allegations that Jackson steered a federal contract to a golfing buddy based in South Carolina.

CNN (Cable News Network)
Mar 30, 2007 Disuse of System Is Cited in Gaps in Soldiers’ Care

QUOTE: The system was designed to make seamless the transition of soldiers who were wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan as they moved to hospitals stateside. But only 13 of 70 military treatment centers in the United States use it even though it was mandated by the Pentagon more than two years ago, according to agency documents.

New York Times
Mar 15, 2007 Army pledges to investigate injured troop charge: In a defense appropriations hearing, Sen. Patty Murray demanded that military leaders respond to Salon's article about medical reclassification of inj

QUOTE: Top Army officials pledged during a Senate hearing Wednesday to investigate whether a brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division is dispatching injured troops to Iraq as part of the so-called surge into Baghdad, Iraq.

Aug 24, 2006 Morning After Pill Is Cleared for Wider Sales

QUOTE: The Food and Drug Administration today approved over-the-counter sales of the “morning-after” contraceptive pill to women 18 and older, resolving one of the most contentious issues in the agency’s 100-year history.

New York Times
Aug 07, 2006 McGavick is latest victim of poisonous politics

QUOTE: Until leaving his post as CEO at Safeco to run for the U.S. Senate, Mike McGavick was hailed as a guy who made needed cuts, restored earnings and breathed fresh air into Seattle's stuffiest corporate culture...Vilification of McGavick, the most talented Senate candidate recruited by Republicans in 2006, stands as a model for the bipartisan tactics of debasement infecting American politics.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Aug 01, 2006 F.D.A. Shifts View on Next-Day Pill

QUOTE: The Food and Drug Administration said yesterday that it was moving toward endorsing sale of the morning-after pill without a prescription for women 18 and older, signaling what may be the end of one of the most stubborn health policy debates of the Bush administration.

New York Times
Aug 01, 2006 FDA to Reopen Discussions With Plan B Manufacturer

QUOTE: The Food and Drug Administration said yesterday that it is ready to engage in detailed discussions with the maker of the "morning-after pill," sold as Plan B -- talks that could lead to over-the-counter sales of the controversial emergency contraceptive to women at least 18 years old...The timing led many of the drug's supporters, including several members of Congress, to discount the agency's announcement as a political ploy timed to defuse what was widely anticipated to be a difficult interrogation.

Washington Post
Mar 26, 2004 Senate Passes Bill On Harm To Fetuses

QUOTE: Under the Senate-passed bill, violence against a pregnant woman would be regarded as two separate crimes: one against the woman; the other against her unborn child...

Washington Post
Oct 15, 2002 Ten Things Your Politician Won't Tell You

QUOTE: Lawmakers looking to win the support of irate voters are getting extra mileage out of assailing 401(k) abuses by corporate bosses. But do these politicians really know what it's like to see retirement savings turn to rubble?...If congressmen seem hesitant about enacting health care reform, you can partly blame the comfy health benefits they enjoy.

Smart Money