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Profile of Congress' First Female Leader - 2002-11-23


Since 1987, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi has represented California's 8th Congressional District, which includes most of the City of San Francisco.

She is a Democrat with deep political roots, a strong commitment to issues and an outstanding record of legislative accomplishment, especially on education, health care, housing, and environmental protection.

On October 10, 2001, Congresswoman Pelosi was elected by her colleagues to become House Democratic Whip, the highest-ranking woman in the history of the U.S. Congress. One year later she was elected by her colleagues to lead the Democrats in Congress as the Minority Leader.

Mrs. Pelosi said, “Well, when I was elected as Whip...I said we made history. Now, we must make progress...I didn’t run as a woman. I ran as an experienced legislator and seasoned politician who knows how to win elections.”

She also said, “Well, first of all it’s our Primary responsibility to protect the American people. We have stood and will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with President Bush in protecting the American people...to root out terrorism wherever it is a threat to the U.S.”

She continued, “...my role is to build the consensus right down the middle on issues related to our economy. We all represent our districts and I’ll proudly represent mine. My colleagues see me as a legislator and a winner of an election, but also as a mother of five and grandmother of five.”

As the former ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations and Export Financing, Rep. Pelosi was instrumental in securing a sizable increase in funding for debt relief for the world's poorest countries. She also secured increases in foreign aid to alleviate poverty, fight AIDS, provide international family planning, and protect the global environment.

Congresswoman Pelosi took a leadership role in human rights, including in China and Tibet. After the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, she sponsored legislation to give Chinese students and scholars the right to remain in the United States.

Mrs. Pelosi supported reform in Burma since the beginning of the 1990s. The National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma's women’s affairs coordinator, Ma Khin Ohnmar, recalls Mrs. Pelosi’s commitment towards democratization in Burma--including her interest in human rights, initiatives for trade sanctions proposal, human trafficking and women’s issues.

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