Biography



About Debbie Stabenow

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow made history in 2000 when she became the first woman from Michigan elected to the United States Senate. She is known for her ability to build coalitions to get things done for Michigan and our nation.

As Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and as a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, Energy Committee, and Budget Committee, she has a powerful and unique role to play in shaping our nation’s health care, manufacturing, energy, and agriculture policies.

Senator Stabenow is laser focused on standing up for Michigan families, expanding affordable health care and lowering the costs of prescription drugs, helping Michigan businesses create good jobs here at home, and protecting our Great Lakes and outdoor heritage. She is a true champion for Michigan.

Early Life & Career

Born in Gladwin and raised in Clare, Debbie Stabenow learned the value of a hard-day’s work from her parents. Her family owned the local Oldsmobile dealership, and her mother was Director of Nursing at the local hospital. She graduated at the top of her class from Clare High School and received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Michigan State University. She worked with youth in the public schools before running for public office.

Senator Stabenow was inspired to run for office after leading a successful effort to stop the closure of a local nursing home. She was elected to the Ingham County Board of Commissioners when she was 24 years old and two years later was elected Chair of the Board. She served for 12 years in the Michigan House of Representatives (1979-90) and four years in the State Senate (1991-94). Two years later, she was elected to represent Michigan’s 8th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. She made history in 2000 when she became the first woman from Michigan elected to the United States Senate.

A Michigan Voice in Senate Leadership

Today Senator Stabenow is Michigan’s senior U.S. Senator and a member of Senate leadership. As Chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, she makes sure there is a Michigan voice at the table and that Congress’ priorities stay in line with the priorities of middle class families.

A Focus on Job Creation

Creating jobs in Michigan is Senator Stabenow’s top priority. As Co-Chair of the bipartisan Senate Manufacturing Caucus, she is a leader in helping Michigan’s businesses create jobs, leveling the playing field in international trade, and ensuring that our workers have the skills they need to excel in the international marketplace. As Senator Stabenow likes to say, “We want to export our products, not our jobs.”

A Champion for Health Care Quality and Access

Senator Stabenow is a national leader of the effort to make sure people have quality, affordable health care, including prescription drugs, mental health care, and addiction treatment. In the wake of the Flint water crisis, she led efforts to pass $170 million in assistance for Flint to repair and replace pipes and to address critical health needs.

Senator Stabenow is committed to bringing veterans the care they need close to home. She led the fight to open new and expanded V.A. clinics in Alpena, Bad Axe, Cadillac, Clare, Cheboygan County, Grayling, Oscoda, Traverse City, and Wyoming.

As Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health Care, Senator Stabenow is a champion for Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program and a passionate advocate for Michigan’s community health centers.

An Advocate for Michigan’s Diverse Agricultural Industry

Senator Stabenow knows that we don’t have an economy unless we make things and grow things. She is a national leader on food and agriculture policy and a forceful advocate for Michigan agriculture – the state’s second biggest source of jobs. Serving on Agriculture Committees in the state legislature, U.S. House, and U.S. Senate, she has shaped forward-thinking food and farm policy, expanding the diversity of what we grow and how we grow it.

As Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator Stabenow authored the 2014 Farm Bill, which strengthened Michigan agriculture and made historic investments in land and water conservation, clean energy, local food systems, specialty crops, cutting-edge research and biobased manufacturing. She built on that success in coauthoring the 2018 Farm Bill, which passed on a strong bipartisan vote of 87-13 – the most Senate votes ever. Thanks to her leadership, the Farm Bill provides historic levels of support for all types of farmers in Michigan – big and small, urban and rural. It also improves the dairy safety net, strengthens support for fruit and vegetable growers, protects land and water, expands local food economies, and invests in Michigan’s small towns and rural communities. As she likes to say, it has Michigan on every page.

Senator Stabenow has also led successful efforts to protect and expand access to healthy foods for children, families, and seniors.

A Protector of Our Great Lakes

After her election to the U.S. Senate, the first bill Senator Stabenow passed into law was a ban on oil and gas drilling in the Great Lakes. Today she is Co-Chair of the U.S. Senate’s bipartisan Great Lakes Task Force and one of our greatest champions for protecting the Great Lakes and our waterways.

Senator Stabenow authored the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which is helping Michigan communities improve the quality of their water and restore wildlife habitats. No one has fought harder to secure federal funding in support of the Great Lakes, from cleaning up our waterways, to fighting invasive species, to modernizing the Soo Locks, a critical link for Michigan businesses to the global economy.

Senator Stabenow is deeply concerned about the number of Michigan families and service members who have been exposed to per- and polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS). She has fought hard to secure funding to clean up contaminated sites, study the health impacts of PFAS exposure, and connect homes to safe drinking water supplies. She has also called on the Environmental Protection Agency to establish federal drinking water standards for PFAS.

Michigan Through and Through

With six offices around the State, Senator Stabenow is always ready to help Michigan residents who are having issues with federal programs. She fights for resources that local communities need, such as more police officers, new hospital emergency rooms, and life-saving equipment for local fire departments.

A musician at heart, Senator Stabenow sings and plays both the piano and the guitar. She is a United Methodist and grew up performing with her family in church and in the community. Her home is in Lansing. She has two grown children, Todd and Michelle; a daughter-in-law, Sara; a son-in-law, Scott; and five beautiful grandchildren.