Home > Biography

Congressman Jim McDermott's Biography

Click here to View a Printable Version of this Page
Photo of Congressman McDermott
Click on the image for 300dpi version.

Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) is serving his eleventh term in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing the 7th Congressional District in Washington State, which includes Seattle and parts of several neighboring communities.  As a senior Member of the Ways and Means Committee, Rep. McDermott is chairman of the Income Security and Family Support Subcommittee and also serves on the Subcommittee on Trade. 

Jim McDermott was born in Chicago, Illinois on December 28, 1936.  He was the first member of his family to attend college and Jim went on to finish medical school.  After completing his medical residency and military service, he made his first run for public office in 1970 and was elected to the State Legislature from the 43rd district in Washington State.  In 1974, he ran for the State Senate, and subsequently was re-elected three times.

In 1987, after 15 years of legislative service, Rep. McDermott decided to leave politics and continue in public service as a Foreign Service medical officer based in Zaire, providing psychiatric services to Foreign Service, AID, and Peace Corps personnel in sub-Saharan Africa.  When the 7th district Congressional seat later became open, he returned from Africa to run for the U.S. House of Representatives.  He was elected in 1988 to the 101st Congress and is currently serving his 11th term.

A physician, Rep. McDermott is especially interested in health care issues. While in the state legislature, he developed the Washington Basic Health Plan, the first state program in the country to provide low-cost health insurance to the unemployed and working poor.  In the Congress, he is especially active in health care reform issues.  He founded and chairs the Congressional Task Force on International HIV/AIDS, and introduced the AIDS Housing Opportunities Act, for special housing assistance for people with AIDS.  Rep. McDermott, the co-author of Single Payer health care legislation, is leading the fight in the House of Representatives to guarantee all Americans comprehensive health care coverage.

Rep. McDermott is married to Therese Hansen, an attorney in Seattle.  Rep. McDermott has two adult children and three grandchildren.  He attends St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle.

Congressman McDermott's Resumé


• Attended public schools in Downers Grove, Illinois.
• B.S., Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois, 1958.
• M.D., University of Illinois Medical School, Chicago, Illinois,1963.
• Internship, Buffalo General Hospital, Buffalo, New York,1963-64.
• Residency in Adult Psychiatry, University of Illinois Hospitals,
  Chicago, Illinois, 1964-66.
• Residency in Child Psychiatry, University of Washington Hospitals,
  Seattle, Washington, 1966-68.

Military Service

• U.S. Navy Medical Corps, Lieutenant Commander, Chief Psychiatrist,
  Long Beach Naval Station, California, 1968-70.

Professional Service

• Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Washington
  Hospitals, Seattle, WA, 1970-83.
• Chief Psychiatrist, Seattle/King County Jail, Seattle, WA, 1978.
• Consultant, Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, Division
   of Juvenile Rehabilitation, Seattle, WA, 1972-79.
• Consultant, Washington State Department of Labor and Industries,
   Seattle, WA, 1972-83.
• Member, Public Health Associates of Seattle, Seattle, WA, 1983-86.
• Regional Medical Officer, U.S. Foreign Service, stationed in Kinshasa,
   Zaire, 1987-88.

State Legislative Service

• Washington State House of Representatives, 43rd district, 1971-72.
• Washington State Senate, 43rd district, 1975-1987.
• Chairman, Senate Ways and Means Committee, 1983-87.
• Chairman, Legislative Budget Committee, 1983-85.

Major Legislative Accomplishments: Basic Education Act, 1977; Nursing Home reform Act, 1979; Public Works Trust Fund, 1985; Comparable Worth Funding, 1985; Centennial Clean Water Act, 1986; Basic Health Care Act, first-in-nation plan providing affordable managed care to unemployed and uninsured, 1987.

Federal Legislative Service

• U.S. House of Representatives, representing Washington's 7th Congressional District, 1988-
• Senior Member, Committee on Ways and Means: Democrats - Republicans
     - Chairman, Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support
     - Member, Subcommittee onTrade
Congressional Task Force on International HIV/AIDS, Co-Chair
Congressional Kidney Caucus, Co-Chair
• Congressional India and Indian-Americans Caucus, Founder, Co-Chair
Japan-United States Friendship Commission

Major Legislative Accomplishments: American Health Security Act; HIV/AIDS international awareness; environmental protection including salmon restoration and forest preservation; energy conservation and alternative fuels, economic initiatives including Americans Back to Work Act and 2002 Economic Stimulus; Native American rights; Senior Citizen initiatives; and, U.S. foreign policy issues including India, Africa Trade and War Powers.

Awards and Recognition


• Awarded the 2008 Children's Champion award by the National Child Support Enforcement Association


• Knighted by the Kingdom of Lesotho in South Africa, as Knight Commander of The Most Dignified Order of Moshoeshoe for distinguished leadership in the political sphere
• Ceremonial Native American headdress presented by Seattle Urban Indian Health Board for leadership and support of Native American issues
• Congressional Advocate of the Year, Child Welfare League of America, Washington, D.C.


• President, Americans for Democratic Action, headquartered in Washington, D.C.
• First recipient of the Mensch Award from the Kadima community in Seattle


• "Legislator of the Year" from The National Association for Home Care & Hospice
• One World Now! Commitment to students of the global leadership program for youth
• City of Burien, leadership and support for the Seahurst Beach Restoration Project
• Javits Wagner O'Day Champion Award, Seattle Lighthouse
• Superhero Award, National Association of Community Health Centers


• "Treasury Guardian" by Taxpayers for Common Sense Action
• Leadership in Justice in Government Award, HateFreeZone Campaign of WA
• Ralph Bunche Peace and Justice Award, Washington State Bar Association
• Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Distinguished Service Award for Community Service,
  University of Washington Medical School and Health Sciences Center


• President's Award, Minority Executive Directors Coalition of King County
• Distinguished House Defender, Healthy Communities Access Coalition
• American Mental Health Counselors Award


• National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
• Physicians for Social Responsibility Congressional Achievement Award
• Sami Nasser Community Activism Award, American Arab Anti-Discrimination
  Committee, San Diego Chapter


• Service Award, Indian American Friendship Council
• The Don Kazama Human Rights Award, Seattle Chapter, Japanese American Citizens League
• Honorary Life Membership, Nisei Veterans Committee
• Human Rights Day Award, Seattle Chapter, U.N. Association of U.S.A.
• Coalition of AGOA Supporters, recognition of outstanding leadership on the Africa
  Growth and Opportunity Act
• Public Citizen, recognition of leadership and commitment to universal and
  comprehensive health coverage for all Americans


• Outstanding Alumnus Award, College of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago,
  Chicago Medical Alumni Association


• Helping Heart Award, Washington Chapter, American College of Cardiology
• Appreciation for Advocacy, Bailey Boushay House, Seattle, skilled nursing facility
  for people living with AIDS


• Legislator of the Year, American Society of Consulting Pharmacists
• Appreciation for Advocacy, National Council on Urban Indian Health


• Constituent of the Year, Exemplary Support of Africa and co-sponsoring Africa
  Growth and Opportunity Act, Constituency for Africa
• Outstanding Legislation Award, Authorship of Africa Growth and Opportunity Act,
  Blacks in Government
• Friendship Award, Indian Association of Western Washington
• Paul Beeson Peace Award, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility


• Governor's Public Service Award for Exemplary Leadership in the Public Sector,
  Northwest AIDS Foundation
• Guardian of Women's Health Award, for courageous acts to promote and protect
  safe, affordable health care for all women, Aradia Women's Health Center


• Public Service Award, for significant contributions to the cause of the mentally ill,
  The American Psychiatric Association & the Academic Consortium


• Distinguished Achievement Award, for courageous and creative approach to health care legislation, American Academy of Clinical Psychiatrists







Site Search


2010 Census Banner Ad

CDC Flu Information

new passport requirements

health care
economyFoster Careenergy
Social Security
SalmonFirst AmendmentIndia

FY11 Appropriations

Transportation Project Requests

Water Resources Development Act Project

House Floor

This Week's Votes


Analysis of the President's 2009 Budget
Do Not Call Registry
Identity Theft
Spam E-mail


7th District Office  -   1809 7th Avenue, Suite 1212 Seattle, WA 98101-1399     Phone: (206) 553-7170     Fax: (206) 553-7175
D.C. Office  -   1035 Longworth HOB, Washington DC, 20515    Phone: (202) 225-3106     Fax: (202) 225-6197

Privacy Policy  - Site Map