Biography

Kathy Castor is Tampa Bay’s voice in the U.S. Congress. She is serving her seventh term representing Florida’s 14th Congressional district, which includes Tampa and parts of Hillsborough County. She was originally elected in 2006, and 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 that works for everyone. She works on initiatives to create jobs, protect the environment and consumers, improve schools, ensure veterans receive the benefits and care they have earned, provide access to affordable health care and defend protections for people with preexisting health conditions.

Castor is an outspoken advocate on behalf of the hardworking families, students, veterans and seniors of our Tampa Bay area. She successfully worked to raise the minimum wage, cut taxes for middle-class families, increase the amount of Pell grants for students and improve Medicare. During the housing downturn, she hosted numerous foreclosure prevention workshops designed to help homeowners stay in their homes. And, during the economic recovery, Castor hosted job fairs to connect neighbors to employment opportunities. Castor is a leading voice in Congress and Florida to protect our health care and the safety of our neighbors, including protecting our communities from gun violence as well as our public health in the face of the Zika virus outbreak.

Better-paying jobs for Tampa Bay is Castor's No. 1 priority. Castor has successfully fought to bring new job opportunities to Tampa Bay’s small businesses and large economic engines alike, including Port Tampa Bay, University of South Florida, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, Tampa International Airport, MacDill Air Force Base and federally qualified community health centers. She successfully championed some of the largest federal investments ever in housing, infrastructure and related jobs in the Tampa area -- at the Encore community redevelopment in downtown Tampa and the I-4/ Selmon Crosstown Connector ($105 million from ARRA). Castor continued to worked to capture every job and investment dollar for our area under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Working to Protect our Environment, Economy and Address the Climate Crisis

Castor has a long established track record of fighting for all that makes Florida special. She started her professional legal career with the Florida Department of Community Affairs working to enforce environmental and growth management laws that protect wetlands, Florida’s coastline, endangered species and sensitive lands.  In private practice, Castor continued her commitment to Florida’s environment as a land use/environmental attorney representing local governments.  As a Hillsborough County Commissioner, Castor served as chair of the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission that is charged with protecting the air, water, wetlands, and land of our large and diverse county, and the delegated elements of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.  

No Drilling

Castor fights to protect Florida beaches from offshore drilling. She is the author of the Florida Coastal Protection Act to make the 235-mile drilling ban off of Florida’s west coast permanent. Castor was active and outspoken against BP during the Deepwater Horizon oil blowout disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, which impacted Florida’s beaches, economy and small businesses. That year, 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. 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 continued on this legislation in 2011, and in June 2012, Gulf Coast states and the Gulf of Mexico achieved a major victory when the RESTORE Act was passed by Congress.

Energy

In addition, Castor has championed energy efficiency, distributed energy and environmental justice to ensure ALL communities, families and individuals enjoy the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards. A benchmarking bill for the disclosure of energy information for commercial buildings in the 114th Congress was signed into law as part of The Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015. Castor’s Clean Distributed Energy Grid Integration Act was incorporated into the House Democrats infrastructure plan.

Fighting against President Trump’s anti-environment policies

Castor is cochair of the House Democratic Environmental Message Team that issued the Trump’s Toxic Team Report to lead the fight to address climate change and detail the extent of the corruption, self-dealing and abuse of taxpayer money under the Trump Administration at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Interior, and Department of Energy, and the impact it is having on the health and safety of the American people. In response to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s repeated ethics violations, misuse of taxpayer dollars, and actions that fundamentally undermine the mission of the EPA, Castor successfully lead her colleagues in a united and formal demand for his resignation. Castor also secured a significant legislative win in the 115th Congress when she led the Florida congressional delegation in successfully pressing to include important water quality provisions in the final Farm Bill to address red tide and toxic algae.

Also this Congress

In the wake of disasters that have destroyed communities in Florida and across the United States, Castor has been unwavering in pressing for federal emergency aid resources to quickly reach the hardest hit regions. After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, Castor launched a Puerto Rico Recovery and Assistance Task Force to fight for the resources the island needs to rebuild for resiliency and stronger infrastructure and economy, as well as maximize local resources to serve Puerto Rican families that have relocated to Florida. So that no U.S. region or territory ever again experiences 100 percent power loss, as vice ranking member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, Castor has pressed for robust electric generation, grid modernization and resiliency policies.

Quality, Affordable Health Care

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. She helped to draft the landmark Affordable Care Act that passed in 2010, and she has worked tirelessly against weakening new patient protections, especially for neighbors with pre-existing conditions, and educating neighbors about health insurance enrollment in the new marketplace exchange.

Castor has authored legislation to improve children’s health care of the nation’s sickest kids through a “health home” model that launched in her hometown of Tampa, Fla., as well as a bipartisan bill to address the opioids epidemic that included legislation Castor authored to tighten requirements for DEA and drug wholesalers. Castor remains focused on protecting Medicare for seniors; supports expanding Medicaid in the State of Florida; and has authored provisions to remedy the doctor shortage, bring new medical residencies to the state and expand scholarships for medical professions at Florida colleges and universities. Castor works hard to bolster and support our health care institutions -- University of South Florida, Haley VA Hospital, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, Tampa General Hospital and BayCare.

Castor cochairs the Academic Medicine Caucus and Children’s Health Care Caucus. 

MacDill AFB & Veteran Community

MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla. is home to two combatant commands, Special Operations Command and Central Command; the 6th Air Mobility Wing; the 927th Air Refueling Wing; and dozens of mission partners. Castor fights for investment, expansion and support our base’s military missions and personnel need to keep our country safe. She fights for base housing and serves as chair of the Special Operations Forces Caucus. Castor has called the GI Bill for the 21st Century that passed in 2008 to restore full, four-year college scholarships for veterans as one of the most important pieces of legislation she has cosponsored. To help ensure the veterans in her district receive the benefits and care they have earned, Castor regularly holds roundtable discussions with veterans and veterans-related nonprofits to address challenges and maximize collaboration. She also regularly hosts special 50th Vietnam War Veterans Commemorations to thank and honor them and their families. 

Lifting Tampa and Cuban American Families

Castor is also dedicated to improving the lives of Cuban Americans. She successfully advocated to ease travel and spending restrictions on Cuban-Americans visiting relatives in Cuba. In January 2011, President Obama announced that Tampa International Airport's eligibility to resume direct flights to and from Cuba after more than two years of a Castor-led lobbying effort. TIA is now one of the busiest airports in the nation for direct flights to Cuba. In 2013, Castor went on a fact-finding visit to Cuba and has advocated more engagement with the island nation to promote modernization. The Center for Democracy in the Americas presented Castor with the 2013 award for Courage in Congress for her advocacy in changing U.S. policy towards Cuba. The Tampa Bay community, including business and education leaders, have stood with Castor in developing ties and establishing Tampa as a Gateway to Cuba, and boosting cultural and educational exchanges.  In 2014, President Obama announced that the United States would restore diplomatic relations with Cuba. Castor continues to work on improving human rights and fostering better economic opportunities in Cuba and in the United States. Castor accompanied President Obama in 2016 in a historic trip to Cuba to cement reinstatement of diplomatic ties. She is a co-chair of the bipartisan Cuba Working Group and the lead Democrat on a bill to end the embargo.

In addition, over the years, Castor has united Tampa Bay behind immigration solutions, especially supporting the success of DACA students. She has held town halls, public meetings and roundtables to bring together legal experts and community resources to highlight the contributions of immigrants to Tampa Bay’s history and the region’s economic success. 

Learn more about the issues important to Tampa Bay and Castor's focused attention to bring economic security to middle-class families.

Committee Assignments

In the 116th Congress, Castor was appointed by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as the Chair of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, where she is leading her colleagues in bold action to confront the climate crisis and its escalating costs.  She also serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is a member of the Subcommittees on Consumer Protection & Commerce, Health, and Oversight & Investigations.  She also co-chairs the following caucuses:  Academic Medicine Caucus, Air Force Caucus, Congressional Soccer Caucus, Special Operations Caucus and the Congressional Children’s Health Care Caucus. In addition, she leads the bi-partisan Cuba Working Group steering committee.

In the 115th Congress, Castor served as the Vice Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  She was a member of the Subcommittees on Energy and Power, Health, and Oversight & Investigations. She also co-chaired the following caucuses:  Academic Medicine Caucus, Congressional Soccer Caucus, Special Operations Caucus, Fertilizer Caucus and the Congressional Children’s Health Care Caucus. In addition, she led the bi-partisan Cuba Working Group steering committee.

In the 114th Congress, Castor served on the Budget Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  She was a member of the Subcommittees on Energy and Power, Health, and Oversight & Investigations. She also co-chaired the following caucuses:  Academic Medicine Caucus, Congressional Soccer Caucus, Special Operations Caucus, Fertilizer Caucus and the Congressional Children’s Health Care Caucus. In addition, she led the bi-partisan Cuba Working Group steering committee.

In the 113th Congress, Castor served on the Budget Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  She was 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 and Commerce Committee, and continued serving on the Budget Committee throughout the 112th session.

In the 111th Congress, Castor served on the House Energy and 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 Congress

Before her election to Congress, Castor served as a Hillsborough County Commissioner and chair of the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission. As County Commissioner in 2005, she was the sole vote against a gay pride ban; this ban was finally repealed unanimously by the Hillsborough County Commission in 2013. 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.