Kathy Castor is the Tampa Bay area’s voice in the U.S. Congress. She is serving her fourth term and represents Florida’s 14th Congressional district, which includes Tampa, St. Petersburg and parts of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. She was originally elected in 2006 and re-elected by voters in 2008, 2010 and 2012. Castor is the first woman to represent Hillsborough and Pinellas counties in the U.S. Congress.
Castor focuses on issues vital to Tampa Bay area families and businesses and is committed to building a stronger economy. She works on initiatives that create jobs, improve schools, provide access to affordable health care, and protect consumers and the environment.
Castor is an outspoken advocate on behalf of the hardworking families, students and seniors of the Tampa Bay region. She successfully worked to raise the minimum wage, cut taxes for middle-class families, increase the amount of Pell grants for students, improve Medicare and extend unemployment benefits. She hosted six foreclosure prevention workshops designed to help homeowners stay in their homes. In 2008, Castor successfully passed a new law that permits college students and their families to remain eligible for student loans during times of dispute with insurance companies over medical bills.
Working to Create Jobs and Combat Florida’s High Unemployment Rate
Castor has successfully fought to bring new jobs to the Tampa Bay area, including the Port of Tampa, Port Manatee, University of South Florida, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, Tampa International Airport, MacDill Air Force Base and new community health centers. She also has brought new jobs to the Encore redevelopment in downtown Tampa, the I-4/ Selmon Crosstown Connector initiative and Florida’s proposed high-speed rail line. Castor worked to capture every job and investment dollar area under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
In 2008, Castor introduced a bill setting a quicker timeline for the Social Security Administration to review disability claims. The legislation attracted 83 co-sponsors. Soon after, the Social Security Administration agreed to reduce the backlog of cases in the Tampa Bay area, assign new administrative judges and clerks to the Tampa region, and a locate a new office in downtown St. Petersburg.
Working for Quality, Affordable Health Care
Castor led the way for new collaborative health initiatives at the University of South Florida, the Haley Veterans Administration Hospital and the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute. She has co-sponsored job-creating research efforts for Moffitt, Tampa General Hospital, BayCare and All Children's Hospital. In 2009, Castor helped secure a Medicaid waiver on behalf of the State of Florida and hospitals throughout the state from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that brought $4.3 billion to the state.
In the 111th Congress, Castor served on the influential House Energy and Commerce Committee. As a member of the Health Subcommittee, Castor was instrumental in ensuring that health care reform worked for Florida families, businesses and university medical and nursing colleges. Castor worked with Florida universities and authored provisions to remedy the doctor shortage bring new medical residencies to the state and expand scholarships for the medical professions at Florida colleges and universities.
Working on Behalf of Cuban-American Families
Castor is also dedicated to improving the lives of Cuban Americans. Castor successfully has advocated to ease travel and spending restrictions on Cuban-Americans visiting relatives in Cuba. In January 2011, President Obama announced that Tampa International Airport is eligible to resume direct flights to and from Cuba after more than two years of a Castor-led lobbying effort.
Working to Protect the Florida Coastline and for Florida Businesses, Families After BP Oil Disaster
Castor fights to protect Florida beaches from offshore drilling. She is the author of the Florida Coastal Protection Act, which would make the 235-mile drilling ban off of Florida’s west coast permanent. Castor was active and outspoken in 2010 in her criticism of BP during the Deepwater Horizon oil blowout disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, which impacted Florida’s beaches, economy and small businesses. In June 2010, she secured $10 million from BP to support Florida college and university marine research, including the University of South Florida and Sarasota’s Mote Marine Laboratory. As member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in 2010, Castor requested a report on BP's enormous advertising budget in the wake of the blowout, and said she was disappointed the oil company has spent more money "polishing its corporate image" than on helping Gulf Coast states recover from the April 2010 disaster.
In the fall of 2010, Castor introduced the Gulf of Mexico Economic and Environmental Restoration Act to fund long-term economic recovery, environmental restoration and research with the fines and penalties to be paid by BP for its pollution under the Clean Water Act. Extensive bipartisan efforts are continuing on the Act in 2011.
In the 113th Congress, Castor serves on the Budget Committee and the House Energy & Commerce Committee. She is a member of the Subcommittees on Energy and Power, Health, and Oversight & Investigations.
For the first six months of the 112th Congress, Castor served on the House Armed Services and Budget Committees. In June 2011, Castor was reassigned to fill an open seat on the House Energy & Commerce Committee, and continued serving on the Budget Committee throughout the 112th session.
In the 111th Congress, Castor served on the House Energy & Commerce Committee, where she worked on health care reform, consumer protection issues and telecommunications priorities. She also was a member of the House Ethics Committee.
In the 110th Congress, Castor served on the Rules Committee, a rare but prestigious committee assignment for a freshman. The committee has jurisdiction over the rules and order of business in the House.
Castor also served three terms on the Democratic House Steering and Policy Committee, which assigns fellow party members to other House committees and considers policy direction for the House Democratic Caucus.
Before her election to Congress, Castor served as a Hillsborough County Commissioner and chair of the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission. In 2005, Castor was named as the Tampa Bay Business Journal's Woman of the Year in government.
Castor is a graduate of Tampa’s Chamberlain High School, Emory University and Florida State University College of Law. Castor and her husband have two daughters. She is the daughter of former Hillsborough County Judge Don Castor and former University of South Florida President and statewide-elected Education Commissioner Betty Castor. She is the former President of the Florida Association of Women Lawyers and partner in a statewide law firm.