America’s New Congress is filled with hundreds of Members and thousands of stories. Each week, GOP.gov will introduce you to a new House Republican with “10 Questions.”
This week’s Featured Member is Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who represents the 5th Congressional District of Washington. Rep. McMorris Rodgers is in her second term as Chair of the House Republican Conference and is also a Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
Prior to serving in Congress, McMorris Rodgers rose to become minority leader in the Washington State House. She was elected to Congress in 2004 and has been a member of House leadership since 2009.
We asked Rep. McMorris Rodgers 10 questions:
1. What was your first job?
I worked odd jobs to pay for college, including at the McDonald’s Drive-Thru in Colville, Washington, at Benny’s motel, and work study at school. The value of hard work has been foundational.
2. What book are you currently reading?
I recently read The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright and have started World Order by Henry Kissinger.
3. What is your favorite vacation destination?
Anywhere with my family. We enjoy time at the lake, ocean, or splashpad. There’s nothing better than being around the dinner table, surrounded by my three children, husband, and our extended family and friends. When we’re together, that’s the best vacation I could ever ask for.
4. Where are you most likely to be seen dining when you’re home in your district?
Anthony’s restaurant overlooking the Spokane river is a favorite of mine. And if strawberries are in season, there’s nothing better than Klicker Strawberries, grown in Walla Walla by the Klicker family for over 80 years!
5. What is your favorite professional sports team?
The college athletes across Eastern Washington put their hearts and souls into the game. Washington State, Eastern Washington, Gonzaga, Whitworth athletics make me proud.
When it comes to professional sports, I always say ‘Go Hawks!’
6. When did you realize you were a Republican?
When Ronald Reagan was elected President with the hope and optimism that America’s greatest days were yet to come. It was his election, coupled with the belief in every person having the opportunity to achieve the American Dream, that made me realize I was a Republican.
7. What’s the most important — but under-reported — policy issue you work on?
Promoting STEM for girls and encouraging more efforts to make young women aware of the tremendous needs and opportunities within the STEM fields. This was my priority as co-chair of the Congressional Women’s Caucus and has continued through the years. As co-chair of the new Diversifying Technology Caucus, I am focused on those efforts.
8. What motivates you to serve the people of your district in Congress?
It’s a tremendous honor to serve the people of Eastern Washington, and the highlight of my job comes from the people that I get to meet every day. They inspire me – veterans in Walla Walla, students from Washington State University, volunteers at Second Harvest, a food bank in Spokane, and entrepreneurs in Colville. They’re the ones who are making a difference in our communities, and they’re the ones who make me want to work harder to get things done in Congress to improve their lives.
9. What were you most surprised about when you started serving in Congress?
The reality of 434 colleagues that represent every corner of this country and truly reflect our diversity – they come from all walks of life, and amazingly, bring our different experiences together to govern. It is an incredibly unique honor to debate on the House floor with men and women who represent America.
10. What’s one piece of advice that has helped shape the course of your life?
Believe in yourself, take risks, persevere.
Growing up, my family owned an orchard and fruit stand in Kettle Falls, Washington, where I worked alongside my parents and my younger brother, picking cherries, peaches, and apricots to sell at our fruit stand. In an early childhood memory, I remember asking my parents for a toy I really wanted. My dad said to me, ‘Cathy, here’s an opportunity to earn it.’ I picked walnuts – at five cents a bucket – for days. I knew that if I kept at those walnuts, my dream would come true. When I finally pushed my dolls in that toy stroller, it was a proud moment – and I appreciated it all the more because I’d earned it.
It is only in America that we have an equal opportunity to roll up our sleeves, work hard, and turn our dreams into reality.