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Picture of Stanford GSE Students at Commencement 2010

Commencement 2011 Speaker

Congressman George Miller (D-CA)

Biography

Congressman George Miller - 2011 Commencement Speaker
Congressman George Miller (D-CA)

Congressman George Miller is the Senior Democrat of the House Education and Workforce Committee and chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee, a leadership position. George is a leading advocate in Congress on education, labor, the economy, and the environment. He has represented the 7th District of California in the East Bay of San Francisco since 1975. His district includes portions of Contra Costa and Solano counties, including Richmond, Concord, Martinez, Pittsburg, Benicia, Vallejo and Vacaville. He is a life-long Democrat and Californian. George is a member of the Democratic Leadership, serving at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s direction as chairman of the House Democratic Policy Committee. In that role he helps Democrats develop and articulate a wide range of policies to benefit all Americans. His priorities in the 112th Congress are to continue to create jobs and grow the economy, reauthorize the federal k-12 education law, and ensure that the historic health care reform law that he co-wrote is fully implemented.

He has served on the Education and Workforce Committee since first coming to Congress and was its chairman from 2007 through 2010. From 1991 to 1994 George chaired the House Natural Resources Committee, one of the primary committees overseeing the environment, energy and public lands, and served as the committee’s Senior Democrat until 2000.

Among George’s top priorities in Congress are strengthening and growing America’s middle class and ensuring economic growth that creates good American jobs. He is a leader in the effort to protect Americans’ retirement and health security, to further innovation in technology, science and education, to make college more affordable, to improve child nutrition, to make k-12 public schools more successful, and to reduce global warming.

In the 111th Congress, George helped craft President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to save and create millions of jobs, invest in education and get the economy moving forward again. The law also included historic investments to spur education reform, including the Race to the Top program, which has encouraged states to modernize their schools, reward excellent teachers and use data to help increase student achievement. George was one of the three committee chairmen who wrote and passed the historic health care law, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, to deliver the fundamental health reforms that Americans want by slowing the growth in out-of-control health costs, introducing competition into the health care marketplace to keep coverage affordable and insurers honest, protecting people’s choices of doctors and health plans, and assuring that all have Americans access to quality, stable, affordable health care. The health care law also reduces the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars over ten years.

George also worked with President Obama to transform the federal student loan programs to ensure they work in the best interest of students, not big banks. By eliminating the banking middleman and wasteful subsidies paid to banks, the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2010 saves $60 billion in taxpayer money and invests that money in students and college completion. And the law does all this without increasing the deficit, in fact the law reduces the deficit over next ten years. The law raised the Pell Grant scholarship to its highest level in history, decreased interest rates on need-based student loans and invested in communities college and Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Under his leadership in the 111th and 110th Congress, the Education and Labor Committee shepherded 14 bills that were signed into law and dozens of others that passed the House. In fact, according the historian of the House, in the 110th and 111th Congresses, the Education and Labor Committee was the most productive committee in the history of the House of Representatives.

Following President Obama’s inauguration in January 2009, the first bill he signed into law was written by George and passed out of the Education and Labor Committee. The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act overturned a Supreme Court ruling that restricted a woman’s right to challenge her employer on the basis on pay discrimination.

In response to President Obama’s call to action, George passed out of his committee in March of 2009 the GIVE Act, now called the Sen. Edward M. Kennedy Service Act, to expand national service opportunities. The President signed this bill into law on April 21, 2009.

In 2007, immediately after the Democrats were elected to a majority in Congress after 12 years of being the minority, it was George’s bill that increased the minimum wage -- from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 an hour -- for the first time in 10 years.

That same year, George authored and passed the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, at that time the largest expansion of federal financial aid for college since the GI Bill. The bill was passed by Congress and signed by President Bush. The law cut interest rates for Stafford Loans in half, increased Pell grants, and provided loan forgiveness to qualified public service employees with student loan debt – without increasing the deficit. George is one of the four original congressional authors of the most recent iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 2001. He is leading the bipartisan effort to rewrite the law.

George is an expert and leader in Congress on California water issues and national environmental policy. In 1992, he passed and enacted into law under Republican President George H. W. Bush the historic California water reform law known as the Central Valley Project Improvement Act. He also co-authored with Senator Dianne Feinstein the 1994 California Desert Protection Act. George has a long history of other legislative achievements on a wide range of education, labor, and environmental issues.

George was born in Richmond, CA, on May 17, 1945 and lives in Martinez. He graduated from Diablo Valley Community College, San Francisco State University, and earned his law degree from the University of California, Davis, Law School. He served on the staff of then-State Senate Majority Leader George Moscone in Sacramento. He is married to Cynthia Caccavo Miller, a life-long resident of Contra Costa County. They have two sons, George and Stephen, and six grandchildren.

Updated: January 2011

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