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LYNN WOOLSEY Printer Friendly Page

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  • Democratic Member of Congress
  • Member of the Progressive Caucus
  • Opposed 1996 Welfare Reform Act


Lynn Woolsey is a Democratic Member of Congress who represents the Sixth District of California.

Born in Seattle in November 1937, Woolsey attended the University of Washington. She subsequently found work as a human resources manager and personnel service owner. After that, she taught at both the College of Marin and the Dominican University of California.

In 1968 Woolsey divorced her husband and promptly put herself and her three young children on welfare.

In 1984 Woolsey won a seat on the Petaluma (California) City Council, where she served for 8 years before running for Congress in 1992. After her popular liberal Republican opponent was diagnosed with a brain tumor and stopped campaigning, Woolsey easily won election amid the Clinton victory tide in 1992 with 65 percent of the vote.

Woolsey belongs to the Progressive Caucus in the House of Representatives. Her voting record, according to Americans for Democratic Action, is between 95% and 100% on the left side of legislation.

During her congressional career, Woolsey has voted:
  • against the development of a national missile defense system;
  • against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001;
  • against the post-9/11 anti-terrorism measure known as the Patriot Act;
  • against allowing the U.S. government to use electronic surveillance to investigate suspected terrorist operatives;
  • against a bill permitting the government to combat potential terrorist threats by monitoring foreign electronic communications which are routed through the United States;
  • against an October 2002 joint resolution authorizing U.S. military action in Iraq;
  • against the establishment of military commissions to try enemy combatants captured in the war on terror;
  • in favor of withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq immediately and by a preordained date;
  • against President Bush’s 2007 decision to deploy some 21,500 additional U.S. soldiers in an effort to quell the violent insurgents in Iraq;
  • in favor of a proposal to expedite the transfer of all prisoners in the Guantanamo Bay detention center;
  • against requiring hospitals to report (to the federal government) illegal aliens who receive emergency medical treatment;
  • against the Real ID Act, which proposed to set minimal security requirements for state driver licenses and identification cards;
  • against separate proposals calling for the construction of some 700 miles of fencing to prevent illegal immigration along America's southern border;
  • against a proposal to grant state and local officials the authority to investigate, identify, and arrest illegal immigrants;
  • against major tax cut proposals in September 1998February 2000March 2000July 2000May 2001May 2003October 2004, and May 2006;
  • against separate welfare reform bills designed to move people off the welfare rolls and into paying jobs;
  • in favor of prohibiting oil and gas exploration in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR); and
  • against a proposal to fund offshore oil exploration along the Outer Continental Shelf.

Woolsey, who co-chairs the Democratic Caucus Task Force on Welfare Reform, fought against the 1996 welfare-reform act.

In September 1999, Woolsey co-sponsored a Communist Party USA event.

In September 2000 Woolsey sponsored H.R. 4892, "The Scouting for All Act," which called for a revocation of the congressional charter held by the Boy Scouts of America since 1916. “We're not saying the Boy Scouts are bad,” Woolsey explained. “We're saying that intolerance is bad” -- a reference to the fact that the Boy Scouts do not wish to include homosexuals either as members or as troop leaders.

On December 2, 2003, Woolsey wrote a letter (on her official congressional stationery) on behalf of Stewart Pearson, the son of a senior aide in her office. Pearson had recently pleaded guilty to rape. In the letter, Woolsey asked the presiding judge to consider mitigating circumstances and to impose a light sentence. The judge ultimately sentenced Pearson to the maximum of eight years in prison. When reports of Woolsey’s letter became public, she apologized for having written it.

In December 2007 Woolsey, along with 8 fellow Democrats, voted against a resolution to formally recognize the importance of “Christmas and the Christian faith.” Earlier that year, by contrast, she had voted to “recognize the commencement of [the Islamic holy month] Ramadan” and the Hindu religious holiday Diwali.

Woolsey serves as president of Americans for Democratic Action, and is a member of the National Organization for Women.



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