|Deborah Ann Greer "Debbie" Stabenow
(born April 29, 1950) is the junior
United States Senator from
and a member of the
Democratic Party. Before her election to the U.S. Senate, she was a
member of the
United States House of Representatives, representing
Michigan's 8th congressional district from 1997 to 2001. She previously
served as a member of the
Ingham County Board of Commissioners (1975-1978),
Michigan House of Representatives (1979-1990), and
Michigan Senate (1991-1994).
Stabenow defeated first-term
Spencer Abraham in the
2000 U.S. Senate election, becoming the first woman elected to the U.S.
Senate from Michigan. She and
Maria Cantwell were the first women to defeat incumbent Senators
in a general election,
Carol Moseley Braun having done so in a primary in 1992.
Stabenow was re-elected in
Stabenow currently serves as chairwoman of the
Subcommittee on Rural Revitalization, Conservation, Forestry and Credit,
Senate Energy Subcommittee on Water and Power, and
Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee.
Early life and
Stabenow was born in
Gladwin, Michigan, to Anna Merle Hallmark and Robert Lee Greer.
She grew up in
Clare, Michigan, where her father and grandfather owned an auto
dealership. She graduated from Clare High School. She received a
Michigan State University in 1972 and a
magna cum laude from Michigan State
University in 1975.
While in graduate school, Stabenow won her first election, to the
Ingham County Board of Commissioners, a position in which she served
from 1975 to 1978. She has also worked as a
social worker, and a leadership training consultant. She served in the
Michigan House of Representatives from 1979 to 1990, where she became
the first woman to preside over the House. She also served in the
Michigan Senate from 1991 to 1994. In 1994, she made an unsuccessful
primary run for
Governor of Michigan, after which she was chosen as nominee
Howard Wolpe's running mate, but lost to the incumbent ticket of
She was elected to the
United States House of Representatives in 1996 from
Michigan's 8th congressional district and served two terms. She did not
seek reelection to the House of Representatives in 2000, but was elected to
U.S. Senate. Stabenow was considered the underdog for much of the Senate
race, but rallied in the final weeks of the campaign to unseat
Spencer Abraham by a narrow margin after the
Federation for American Immigration Reform ran ads criticizing Abraham's
stance in favor of relaxing immigration restrictions.
Stabenow was a leader in the passage of the one of the first laws in the
U.S. that required all Michigan children to ride in car seats until age
five. She authored a
domestic violence law which increased criminal penalties for those
committing domestic violence offences. Republican members of the State
legislature nicknamed her "D-Stabs" around this time. She was the first
woman to preside over the House.
In the Michigan Senate, Stabenow was a leader in the passage of bills
including Michigan's property tax cuts and school funding reform, small
business reforms, and legislation to protect families and children in the
Stabenow has expressed support in regulating
radio via a measure like the
Fairness doctrine. On February 5, 2009, she
stated "I think itís absolutely time to pass a standard. Now, whether itís
called the Fairness Standard, whether itís called something else ó I
absolutely think itís time to be bringing accountability to the airwaves."
Her support for these measures has been met with concerns about a
conflict of interest, given that the primary target is
conservative talk radio and that her current husband,
Athans, has been an executive at a number of
liberal progressive talk radio networks.
Drilling in the
Being a supporter of environmental issues, she authored the first law to
ban drilling in the
On August 31, 2006 Stabenow, along with Senator
Levin and Rep.
John Dingell, announced an agreement that would completely cease
dumping of solid waste in Michigan within four years. This issue has been an
issue in Michigan for the past several years. Previously in the Senate,
Stabenow wrote legislation intended to reduce the dumping of Canadian trash
into Michigan by requiring machines to search trash being dumped across the
In July 2006, the Senate unanimously passed a law sponsored by Stabenow
requiring the payment of $420 inspection fee for every truckload of Canadian
trash being brought into Michigan.
On August 10, 2009, Stabenow was reported by
The Detroit News as saying "Global warming creates volatility. I feel
it when I'm flying. The storms are more volatile. We are paying the price in
more hurricanes and tornadoes.".
Senator Stabenow has introduced a bill to end the SGR mechanism. In
physician payment mechanisms, SGR refers to the "sustainable
growth rate", used to calculate physician fees under Medicare, where
theoretically, these fees would be reduced every year to compensate for an
increase in Medicare spending overall. Medical organizations complain of
being the only profession in the USA to live under government imposed price
controls, controls which in actuality are not enforced. Because most often
the US Congress responds to physician organization appeals, last-minute
supplementary spending is approved (increasing the actual expenditures) so
that no fee reduction occurs. A 21% cut would be due in January 2010.
Stabenow was first married to Dennis Stabenow; the couple divorced in
1990. They have two children, Michelle and Todd.
In 2003, Stabenow married
Athans, now the executive vice president of
Air America. By this marriage, she has a
stepdaughter, Gina. On April 2, 2008, the
Detroit Free Press reported that Athans had been implicated
Stabenow released a statement saying "This is very disturbing and serious.
Obviously it's a deeply difficult and personal matter."
She belongs to the Grace United Methodist Church.