Rep. Jim McDermott

Rep. James (Jim) A. McDermott was the U.S. Representative for the State of Washington’s 7th District from 1989 to 2017. Prior to serving in the U.S. Congress, he was a member of the Washington State Legislature from 1971 to 1987. During the mid-to-late 1960s, McDermott, a trained psychiatrist, was employed by the U.S. Navy to help treat returning veterans from Vietnam. After leaving the Washington State Senate in 1987, he accepted a Foreign Service post working in Africa, where he witnessed firsthand the scale and effects of the AIDS epidemic there. He returned to the U.S. to run for Congress and work on national health and health-related issues. At his retirement in January 2017, President Barack Obama congratulated him for his decades of service, saying he’d been “a much-needed voice” for the nation’s less fortunate.

A life-long Democrat and well-known social progressive, McDermott served on the House Ways and Means Committee and as majority leader and ranking minority leader on the Ethics Committee. Many of the bills he sponsored were concerned with healthcare, support for disabled and unemployed workers, child- and youth-related programs, development in Africa, and national security. He was one of the strongest supporters of the Affordable Care Act (2010), better known as Obamacare. McDermott was in the national spotlight a number of times during his 28-year tenure in the House of Representatives, most memorably for his outspoken stance against the Iraq invasion in 2002, when he predicted the Bush Administration would try to mislead the public to gain its support and that the war which would follow the invasion would not be brief and celebratory but long and disastrous.

Rep. McDermott now teaches in the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington.

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