Jane Harman

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Jane Harman, official portrait, 111th Congress.jpg

Jane Margaret Lakes Harman (born June 28, 1945), a Jewess, is an eight-term Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives, representing California's 36th congressional district. She is the second richest member of Congress with over $160 million in assets, behind Republican Darrell Issa who represents the 49th congressional district of California.[1][2]

Early life

Harman, was born Jane Margaret Lakes in New York City, the daughter of Lucille Geier and Adolph. N. Lakes.[3] Her father escaped national socialist Germany and worked as a medical doctor. Harman attended Los Angeles public schools, graduating from University High School in 1962. She received a bachelor's degree from Smith College in 1966 and was Phi Beta Kappa.[4] Harman continued her studies at Harvard Law School, earning her law degree in 1969.[5]


After graduation from law school, Jane Harman began her political career in Washington, D.C. by serving as chief counsel and staff director for the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights. She served in that position until moving over to the Executive Branch of government serving as special counsel to the Department of Defense, and as Deputy Secretary of the Cabinet, both positions in the Carter Administration. She held a brief teaching position at UCLA, as Regent's Professor, during her brief absence from the House of Representatives.

US Representative, 1993 to 1999

Harman was first elected to Congress in 1992. From 1993 to 1999, Harman represented 36th, serving in the 103rd, 104th, 105th Congresses. In 1994, she barely survived reelection in a heavily Republican year, winning by 812 votes.

1998 California gubernatorial election

Harman did not run for the 106th United States Congress in 1998, instead entering the 1998 California gubernatorial race. It was during that race that she called herself "the best Republican in the Democratic Party."[6]

After losing the Democratic nomination to Gray Davis, she briefly taught public policy and international relations at UCLA before running for and winning her old congressional seat in the 2000 election.

US Representative, 2000 to present

Harman won her old seat in 2000, and was easily re-elected in 2002 and 2004.

In the June 2006 Democratic primary, Progressive Democrats of America candidate Marcy Winograd challenged Harman.[7] After watching Harman defend the recently-revealed Bush program of warrantless wiretapping on Meet the Press,[8] Winograd moved into the congressional district and filed for Harman’s seat. Winograd criticized Harman's role as ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee in failing to protest when briefed on the Bush administration's warrantless wiretap program and voting for the Iraq war authorization[9] Then-Vice-President Dick Cheney later confirmed that Harman knew about and approved of the program.[10]

Harman won the primary, 62.5% to 37.5%.[11]

On November 7, 2006, Harman was re-elected in the 2006 general election to the 110th United States Congress, defeating Republican challenger Brian Gibson.

AIPAC controversy

In October 2006, Time magazine, quoting anonymous sources, asserted that an FBI and US Department of Justice investigation of Harman was underway. The magazine alleged that Harman had agreed to lobby the Department of Justice to reduce espionage charges against Steve J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, two officials at the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). In exchange, Time said there was a quid pro quo in which AIPAC would lobby then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to appoint Harman as chair of the House Intelligence Committee if the Democrats captured the House after the 2006 elections. Harman, the FBI, the Justice Department and Pelosi's office have all denied knowledge of or involvement with any investigation.[12] AIPAC denied it had engaged in a quid pro quo with Harman. "AIPAC would never engage in a quid pro quo in relation to a federal investigation or any federal matter and the notion that it would do so is preposterous," a spokesperson said at the time.[12]

In April 2009, CQ Politics, also quoting anonymous sources, said Harman had been captured on a National Security Agency wiretap prior to the 2006 elections, telling an "Israeli agent" that she would "waddle into" lobbying the Department of Justice on the AIPAC case. Harman ended the phone call, according to CQ, by saying, "This conversation doesn’t exist."[13] Harman denied the allegations, saying: "These claims are an outrageous and recycled canard, and have no basis in fact. I never engaged in any such activity. Those who are peddling these false accusations should be ashamed of themselves."[14]

According to CQ, then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales pressed CIA Director Porter Goss to drop the agency's investigation of Harman, because he wanted Harman's support during the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy, about to break in The New York Times.[12] Harman called The New York Times and urged them not to publish details on the program.[15] Gonzales and Goss declined to comment.[13]

In point of fact, Harman has been ranking Democrat on the House committee prior to the 2006 election[16], making her the most likely appointee. Pelosi appointed Silvestre Reyes instead.[14]

Political positions

Harman, a Blue Dog Democrat,[17] is labeled a conservative, especially on intelligence and defense issues; for example, she supported the Iraq War.[15] As a member of the Democratic Leadership Council, Harman has combined a conservative stance on economic, trade, and foreign policy issues with a more liberal stance on some social issues. For instance, while voting with Republicans to restrict rules on personal bankruptcy, for lawsuit reform, and to abolish the estate tax, as well as on protecting those defense contractors with business interests in her congressional district, Harman voted against the ban on partial-birth abortions, lawsuits against gun manufacturers, the Defense of Marriage Act, and banning indecent broadcasting. She supports federal funding of contraception, primary grade sex education programs, the Freedom of Choice legislation, and is now opposed to any harsh techniques for interrogating terrorist prisoners of war.

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US House Resolution 1955

Jane Harman was criticized by the ACLU for submitting HR 1955, the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007, which passed in the House 404-6. The ACLU claims the bill includes unconstitutional limitations on free speech and beliefs. A related piece of legislation in the US Senate, S. 1959, has been submitted by Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins.[citation needed]

US House Resolution on the Armenian Genocide

Jane Harman was a co-sponsor of the Armenian Genocide recognition resolution bill in 2007. However, while still cosponsoring the bill, she wrote a letter to House Foreign Relations Committee Chair Tom Lantos urging him to withdraw the bill.[18] Her argument was that while the genocide deserves recognition, it was not a good time to embarrass Turkey given that country's role in moderating extremism in the Middle East.[19]

Military support

Jane Harman gives strong support of the United States troops. She believes the United States holds foreign states accountable for terrorists who operate in their country. Harman claims she is still undecided in whether the United States should grant law enforcement agencies greater discretion to read mail and email, tap phones, and conduct random searches to prevent future terrorist attacks; however she has stated she believes it essential to National Security.[20] She remains undecided on whether to support a policy of pre-emptive military strikes against countries deemed to be a threat to U.S. national security. Although Harman gives strong support for our military she supports the elimination of torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment of prisoners in U.S. custody.[20]

Warrantless wiretapping

Harman defended the Bush administration's use of international (cross-border) warrantless wiretapping through the National Security Agency, saying: "I believe the program is essential to U.S. national security and that its disclosure has damaged critical intelligence capabilities."[21] Harman suggested that both the original "despicable"[22] whistleblowers and The New York Times, which broke the story, should be investigated, and in the case of The Times, "limits on press immunity" should be looked into.[23] Harman repeatedly pressured the Times not to publish the warrantless wiretap story. In October or November 2004, Harman called Phillip Taubman, Washington bureau chief of the Times, to discourage him from running the story. In December 2005, Harman was among a group of lawmakers who visited Taubman in an attempt to convince him not to run the story.[24] Following reports in April 2009 of her conversations being recorded without her knowledge, she appeared to take a different stance regarding wholly-domestic wiretaps. In an interview with Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC:

That's what I've asked Attorney General Holder to do—to release any tapes, I don't know whether they were legally made or not, of my conservations about this matter... and to hope that he will investigate whether other members of Congress or other innocent Americans might have been subject to this same kind of treatment. I call it an abuse of power in the letter I wrote him this morning... I'm just very disappointed that my country—I'm an American citizen just like you are—could have permitted what I think is a gross abuse of power in recent years. I'm one member of Congress who may be caught up in it, but I have a bully pulpit and I can fight back. I'm thinking about others who have no bully pulpit, and may not be aware, as I was not, that right now, somewhere, someone is listening in on their conversations, and they're innocent Americans.
—Jane Harman, [25]

Stance on health issues

Congresswoman Jane Harman maintains that the United States needs a universal health care program to guarantee coverage to all Americans regardless of income and affirms there should be pre-establish limits on the amount of punitive damages awarded in medical malpractice lawsuits.[20] Harman supports automatic enrollment of children in federal health care programs such as CHIP and Medicaid. Harman voted yes on the CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2009 which expands the coverage of children’s insurance. The bill was passed in February 2009 and became Public Law Number 111-3.[26] Other medical issues she supports includes stem cell research on existing lines of stem cells and allowing laboratories to create new lines of stem cells for additional research.[20]

Harman supports that abortions should always be legal, especially in instances where the pregnancy has resulted from incest or rape, or when the life of the mother is endangered.[27] In 2009, the Stupak–Pitts Amendment is being considered for inclusion in the health care bill that is under construction. Harman says the amendment makes it impossible for most women to use their own funds to purchase insurance to pay for abortions. Harman states “I respect the right of any woman or man to oppose abortion. But, in return, I expect those who are anti-choice to respect my views. My views are that abortion should be safe and rare” and “I am old enough to remember the days of back alley abortions. Some women I know had them. I cannot bear the idea that the 111th Congress would restore that horror.”[28]

Committee assignments

Jane Harman is currently a member of 7 committees (Energy and Commerce, Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Border, Maritime, and Global Counterterrorism, Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment (Energy and Commerce), Subcommittee on Health (Energy and Commerce), Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment) and chairs the Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment which is a sub-committee of Homeland security.[29]

Personal life

Harman maintains a residence in Venice, Los Angeles California and is currently married to Sidney Harman, who was Undersecretary of the Department of Commerce during the Carter administration and had previously sold his company, Harman Kardon, to Beatrice Foods for over $100 million. Her first marriage was to Richard Frank, in 1969, and she had two children with him. She also has two children with Sid Harman.[30]


  1. http://www.usnews.com/articles/opinion/2008/09/26/5-richest-members-of-congress.html "Five Richest Members of Congress"
  2. http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0630-05.htm
  3. Current Women Members
  4. Jane Harman
  5. HARMAN, Jane L. – Biographical Information. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress (2007). Retrieved on August 31, 2008.
  6. Skelton, George (March 23, 1998). California and the West; In the Ring, With Contenders for Governor.. Los Angeles Times 3. LATimes.com. Retrieved on September 31, 2008.
  7. "The Abolitionist and the Whig," LA Weekly, May 18, 2006.
  8. "Transcript for February 12: Peter Hoekstra, Jane Harman, Pat Roberts & Tom Daschle." Meet the Press. February 12, 2006.
  9. "Democrats Battle Over Safe Seat in Congress," Los Angeles Times, May 24, 2006.
  10. Salon: Cheney says Top Congressional Democrats Complicit in Spying
  11. "Statement of Vote, Summary Pages." California Elections and Voter Information. California Secretary of State. 2006.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Burger, Timothy (October 10, 2006). Exclusive: Feds Probe a Top Democrat's Relationship with AIPAC. Time magazine. Time magazine. Retrieved on April 20, 2009.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Stein, Jeff (April 19, 2009). Sources: Wiretap Recorded Rep. Harman Promising to Intervene for AIPAC. CQ Politics. Congressional Quarterly. Retrieved on April 20, 2009.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Neuman, Johanna (April 20, 2009). Jane Harman denies CQ report she was heard on NSA wiretap lobbying for AIPAC officials. LATimes.com. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on April 20, 2009.
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Pelosi, Harman Have Long History". The Washington Post. April 23, 2009. http://voices.washingtonpost.com/capitol-briefing/2009/04/pelosi_harman_have_long_histor.html?hpid=news-col-blog. Retrieved April 25, 2009. 
  16. A Year Later, Goss's CIA Is Still in Turmoil.
  17. http://www.house.gov/melancon/BlueDogs/index.html
  18. AP (October 10, 2007). House Rep. Flip-Flops On Armenian Genocide Stance. CBS.
  19. John Healey (October 5, 2007). Harman flip-flops on Armenian genocide resolution. LA Times.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 [1]
  21. "Bush Says, Bring It On; the Critics Will". TIME. January 3, 2006. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1145222,00.html?promoid=rss_nation. Retrieved April 21, 2009. 
  22. "Transcript for February 12". Meet the Press. February 12, 2006. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11272634/page/6/. Retrieved April 21, 2009. 
  23. "Jane Harman: I Deplore NSA Leak". Newsmax. February 12, 2006. http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2006/2/12/122953.shtml?s=ic. Retrieved April 21, 2009. 
  24. "Lawmaker Is Said to Have Agreed to Aid Lobbyists". New York Times. April 20, 2009. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/21/us/politics/21harman.html?_r=2&hp. Retrieved April 21, 2009. 
  25. Harman, Jane; Mitchell, Andrea. (April 21, 2009; 13:00 ET). Andrea Mitchell Reports: Wiretapping Congress?. [Television interview]. MSNBC. 
  26. [2]
  27. [3]
  28. [4]
  29. [5]
  30. Jane Harman Papers

External links

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