Since being elected on November 5, 2002, Congressman Dennis Cardoza (D-Merced) has established himself as a strong and effective leader who reaches across party lines in order to deliver results for his constituents in California’s Central Valley. He is dedicated to fighting for the pressing issues that affect, not only his constituents, but the nation as a whole. Cardoza represents the diverse 18th Congressional District which includes Merced County and portions of San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Madera, and Fresno counties.
Due to his jurisdiction in California’s agriculturally rich region, Cardoza is committed to lobbying hard in Congress for important issues that affect Central Valley farming such as the water shortage, dairy crisis, and job loss. He has been particularly instrumental in bringing national attention to the Central Valley by bringing Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to the region to see the Valley in crisis first hand and helped to encourage the United States Department of Agriculture to declare Merced, Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties natural disaster areas. He is a strong advocate for providing necessary disaster relief to the Valley, shown by his willingness to join his colleagues from the San Joaquin Valley in a bipartisan effort to direct water from the San Joaquin Delta to local Valley growers and farmers. Dennis was appointed to the House Agriculture Committee on which he chairs the House Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture and also serves on the Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry. After being appointed to serve on the 2008 Farm Bill Conference Committee, Cardoza was able to secure a fair share of federal aid for Central Valley agriculture, including over $2 billion in federal funding for fruits, vegetables, nuts and other specialty crops.
As a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, Dennis strongly believes we must get back on the road to fiscal responsibility in order to avoid passing our growing $11 trillion deficit onto our children. To achieve this goal, he stresses the need to ensure that the government is efficient and spending its dollars wisely while remaining accountable to the taxpayers. As a Blue Dog, Dennis favors a budget that includes a solid commitment to statutory Pay-As-You-Go rules, a deficit neutral reserve fund for health care reform, and funding for program integrity to identify waste and abuse in government spending. Cardoza is a proud cosponsor of H.R. 2166, the “Fiscal Honesty and Accountability Act of 2009,” to extend Pay-As-You-Go requirements through 2014 in order to strengthen Congress’ commitment to fiscal responsibility and accountability.
In 2007, Cardoza joined the prestigious House Rules Committee, one of the most important and powerful standing committees in the House of Representatives due to its jurisdiction over the rules of the House and through its authoritative scheduling function. Having a seat on this committee allows the Congressman to encourage immediate consideration of a legislative measure and to prescribe conditions for its debate and amendment, giving him a strong platform from which to advocate for the interests and values of California’s Central Valley. As a member of the Rules Committee, Cardoza was able to help the Valley’s home foreclosure crisis by securing language in H.R. 1728, the “Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act,” that establishes a federal database to track foreclosures across the country. Cardoza also serves on the House Rules Legislative & Budget Process Subcommittee.
Congressman Cardoza believes that among our greatest responsibilities as a society is to the care of our nation’s children and has been a strong advocate on behalf of foster care and adoption. In the 110th Congress, he introduced H.R. 3283, which provided incentives to states and required a Court Appointed Special Advocate be appointed for every foster child, guaranteeing that all children in the foster care system would receive the special attention and care that they need and deserve. He is also proud to see legislation that he introduced that ensures children in the foster care system receive necessary healthcare coverage until they reach the age of 21 be incorporated into the “Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act,” which was signed into law on October 7, 2008. He has received numerous awards and recognition for his advocacy efforts on behalf of foster care and adoption and is proud to be the father of two adopted children himself.
One of his top priorities in Congress has been crafting a balanced national energy plan, based in equal amounts on production, conservation, and innovation. Cardoza has consistently voted in favor of bills aimed at lowering gas prices, cutting off windfall tax breaks for big oil and encouraging the use of clean alternative energy technologies. In the 110th Congress he supported the “Renewable Energy and Jobs Creation Act” to extend tax incentives for renewable energy in order to create hundreds of thousands of green jobs in the United States. He continues to be a strong advocate for reducing our nation's dangerous dependence on foreign oil which he believes is critical to strengthening our national security and bolstering our domestic alternative energy industry.
Along with his priorities for the Central Valley, Cardoza also has a strong record on national security, veterans' issues, and defending Social Security. He is also committed to combating the most pressing issues that are affecting all U.S. citizens, such as the soaring unemployment rate and the lack of and expense of health insurance coverage. Dennis remains committed to the belief that a quality education is the single most important factor ensuring our children are able to achieve a better future. He is responsible for bringing California’s first research university built in the 21st century to the Central Valley with the opening of the University of California, Merced in 2005. He is also committed to ensuring that a higher education is affordable for students and recently supported the “Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act,” which is expected to delivery nearly $105 million in Pell Grant funding to students in the 18th Congressional District by the year 2015.
Prior to serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Cardoza ran a successful small business and gained valuable leadership experience by serving on the Atwater City Council, the Merced City Council, the Merced County Regional Solid Waste Board, the Merced County Association of Governments, and the Atwater Redevelopment Agency. Before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, Cardoza served as a member of the California State Assembly from 1996 to 2002 where he fought to cut taxes, help family farms, and promote education and children's safety issues for California.
Dennis Cardoza is proud to have grown up in the valley in which he serves. He was raised in Atwater and graduated from Atwater High School in 1977. He attended California State University, Stanislaus in Turlock before transferring to the University of Maryland, College Park where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1982. Congressman Cardoza is married to Dr. Kathleen McLoughlin with whom he has three children, Joey, Brittany Mari, and Elaina. He remains committed to solving the important issues affecting the United States as a whole yet he remains especially devoted to assisting the needs of the constituents who live within the 18th Congressional district.