Pramila Jayapal (born September 21, 1965) is an American politician and activist from the State of Washington who currently serves as the U.S. Representative from Washington’s 7th congressional district, which includes most of Seattle as well as suburban areas of King County. As a member of the Democratic Party, she represented the 37th legislative district in the Washington State Senate from 2015 to 2017. She is the first Indian-American woman to serve in the House of Representatives. The district’s first female member of Congress, she is also the first Asian-American to represent Washington in Congress.
Before entering electoral politics, Jayapal was a Seattle-based civil rights activist, serving until 2012 as the executive director of OneAmerica, a pro-immigrant advocacy group. Jayapal founded the organization, originally called Hate Free Zone, following the 2001 September 11 attacks. The organization successfully sued the Bush Administration’s Immigration and Naturalization Services to prevent the deportation of over 4,000 Somalis across the country.
Described by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as “a rising star in the Democratic caucus”, Jayapal currently serves as the First Vice Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and serves on both the Judiciary and Budget committees.
Jayapal served on the Mayoral Advisory Committee that negotiated Seattle’s $15 minimum wage,and co-chaired the Mayor’s police chief search committee, which resulted in the unanimous selection of the city’s first woman police chief.
After State Senator Adam Kline announced his retirement in early 2014, Jayapal entered the race to succeed him. She was endorsed by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and won more than 51% of the vote in the August 5 primary, out of a field of six candidates.She went on to defeat fellow Democrat Louis Watanabe in November 2014.
In the Washington State Senate, Jayapal was the primary sponsor of SB 5863, which directs the Washington State Department of Transportation to administer a pre-apprenticeship program targeting women and people of color; the bill passed into law in July 2015. She co-sponsored a bill to test and track thousands of police department rape kits.
Jayapal endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders for President of the United States in the Democratic primary
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