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Lois Capps

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 23rd district
Assumed office 
March 10, 1998
Preceded by Walter Capps

Born January 10, 1938 (1938-01-10) (age 72)
Ladysmith, Wisconsin
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Widowed
Residence Santa Barbara, California
Alma mater Yale University, University of California, Santa Barbara
Occupation nurse, college professor
Religion Lutheran

Lois Grimsrud Capps (born January 10, 1938), an American politician, has been a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives since 1998, representing California's 23rd congressional district (District map), which 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, 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.

In 1960 she married Walter Capps, a future Congressman. They later had 3 children. Walter died 1997 from a heart attack and their youngest daughter Lisa died in 2000.

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.

While at Yale, she married Walter Capps, a divinity student at Yale who later became a famous religious studies professor at UCSB. She 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 then 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 the same opponent 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' victory in 1996).

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 (R-CA), Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), and Doris Matsui (D-CA).

Capps was strongly critical of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which places limits on taxpayer-funded abortions in the context of the November 2009 Affordable Health Care for America Act.

Committee Assignments



  • 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

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Walter Capps
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 22nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Bill Thomas
Preceded by
Elton Gallegly
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 23rd congressional district

2003 – present


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