Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant: The WikiBook/Lois Capps

Lois Grimsrud Capps (born January 10, 1938) is the U.S. Representative for the 23rd District, serving since 2003. She is a member of the Democratic Party Democratic Party. The district was numbered as the 22nd District prior to the 2000 round of redistricting. It consists of a long, thin strip of the Southern California coast in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. It includes the cities of San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay, Pismo Beach, Santa Maria, Goleta, Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Ventura, Oxnard, Port Hueneme, and Isla Vista.

Capps serves on the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, where she is a member of the Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee and the Subcommittee on Health. She is a member of the New Democrat Coalition.



Lois Capps was born in Ladysmith, Wisconsin as the daughter of a Lutheran minister. She has lived in Santa Barbara since 1960. She was educated at Pacific Lutheran University with a bachelor's degree in nursing. She earned a master's degree in religion at Yale University and a master's degree in education at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

In 1960, while at Yale, she married Walter Capps, a divinity student at Yale who later became a prominent religious studies professor at UCSB; they eventually had three children. Walter died in 1997 and their youngest daughter Lisa died in 2000. Lois Capps worked for 20 years as a nurse and health advocate for the Santa Barbara public schools and also taught early childhood education part-time at Santa Barbara City College.

Walter Capps was elected to Congress in 1996 in a rematch of his 1994 race against Republican Andrea Seastrand. However, he died of a heart attack on October 28, 1997, only nine months into his term. His widow won the then-22nd District seat by defeating Republican Tom Bordonaro in a special election on March 10, 1998. She was sworn into the 105th Congress on March 17. Lois Capps successfully defended her seat against Bordonaro in a general election later that year, and commenced her first full term in office.

In 2000, Capps retained her seat, defeating Republican Mike Stoker with 53% of the vote. She was the first Democrat to hold the district for more than one term in over 50 years (the district, known as the 11th from its formation in 1943 until 1953, the 13th from 1953 to 1975 and the 19th from 1975 to 1993, had been held by Republicans from 1947 until Walter Capps was sworn in in 1997).

Redistricting made Capps somewhat safer, and she was reelected without serious opposition in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008. As of 2007, Capps was one of four sitting representatives to be elected to their seats following the deaths of their husbands, along with Mary Bono, Jo Ann Emerson, and Doris Matsui.

Record in Congress


In Washingtonian Magazine's 2006 "Best and Worst of Congress" poll of Congressional staffers, Capps was named the nicest member of Congress. She is heavily favored to retain her seat in the 2010 election.[1]

Capps supported the Obama administration's economic stimulus and the November 2009 Affordable Health Care for America Act.[1] She was strongly critical of the Stupak–Pitts Amendment to the latter, which placed limits on taxpayer-funding of abortions (except in the cases of rape, incest, or threat to the mother's life). Capps had earlier sponsored the Capps Amendment, which was defeated and replaced by the Stupak Amendment.

Committee assignments

  • United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce
    • United States House Energy Subcommittee on Energy and Power
    • United States House Energy Subcommittee on Environment and Economy
    • United States House Energy Subcommittee on Health


  • Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Women’s Issues
  • Co-Chair of the National Marine Sanctuary Caucus
  • Co-Chair of the Congressional Coastal Caucus
  • Co-Chair of the Biomedical Research Caucus
  • Co-Chair of the House Cancer Caucus
  • Co-Chair of the Congressional Heart and Stroke Coalition
  • Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Infant Health and Safety
  • Founded the Congressional Nursing Caucus
  • Founded the School Health and Safety Caucus


  1. a b "California 23rd District Profile". New York Times. 2010-10-29. Retrieved 2010-10-29.