Jackie Speier (pronounced SPEAR) represents California’s 14th Congressional District, which stretches from the southern portion of San Francisco through San Mateo County to East Palo Alto. She is a tireless advocate for women’s rights, the public good, and the security of Americans. She was named to Newsweek’s list of 150 “Fearless Women” in the world.
She serves on the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) as the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Military Personnel, on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), and is a co-chair of the Congressional Armenian Caucus. Speier also recently served as a Democratic member of the Select Committee that House Republicans established to attack women’s heath; an appointment she agreed to in order to defend women’s health and hold the committee’s leadership accountable.
Fighting for Women’s Rights
Speier was the first member of Congress to advocate for fundamental reforms to end the epidemic of sexual assault in the military and on college campuses, and she is leading the fight against sexism in the fields of science and technology. She is also at the forefront of efforts to end discrimination and close the gender pay gap through ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act.
During her 18 years in both houses of the California Legislature, she had more than 300 bills signed into law by both Republican and Democratic governors. Some of her highest-profile efforts secured justice for women and children, including a series of bills that led to the collection of more than $2 billion in delinquent court-ordered child support payments. She authored a measure that gave the state the nation’s strongest financial privacy law.
Champion of the Public Good
Speier has fought tirelessly for the safety, health, and rights of ordinary Americans, getting tough on big banks and ending taxpayer bailouts; working to keep housing and student loans affordable; acting to prevent children’s deaths caused by unsafe products; protecting private information from cyberattacks and cyberespionage; stopping abusive practices like so-called “gay conversion therapy” and discrimination against transgender soldiers; promoting research of traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s, breast cancer, and gun violence; and preventing tragedies like the 2010 San Bruno explosion that took eight lives in her district.
Strong on National Defense
As ranking member of the HASC Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation and a member of HPSCI, she has worked to keep the United States secure from terrorists and hostile nations, to honor and support our veterans, to ensure American troops have the right equipment to do their jobs, and to save taxpayers millions by fighting for improved cyberdefenses and sound management practices at the Pentagon. On these committees and in her previous assignments, she has led numerous investigations to protect the public by exposing corruption and dysfunction. Speier is a leading advocate of efforts to protect human rights and save taxpayer money by shutting down the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay.
As one of only two members of Congress of ethnic Armenian ancestry, she has regularly introduced resolutions urging the United States to officially recognize the Armenian genocide that began in 1915.
Speier first ran for Congress in 1979, facing a crowded field in a special election for a seat formerly held by Congressman Leo J. Ryan, for whom Speier had served as a legislative aide.
The special election had been called after Ryan was shot to death in Jonestown, at the compound of the People’s Temple, a cult in Guyana that had previously been based in Ryan’s district of San Francisco. Speier traveled with Ryan on that trip in 1978 in an attempt to rescue some of the cult’s 900 members. But Speier was left nearly lifeless herself on the airport tarmac after being shot five times at point blank range.
Speier needed multiple surgeries after the tragedy, and while recovering she realized she had a choice to make: Did she want to be a victim or did she want to be a survivor?
Speier chose to be a survivor.
Jackie Speier received a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California at Davis, and a J.D. from UC Hastings College of the Law. Along with her husband, Barry Dennis, and her children, Jackson and Stephanie, she is a proud fan of the San Francisco Giants, the Golden State Warriors, and a lover of all things California. She enjoys any activity that allows her to spend time with her family.