Women's History Month Blog Series: Katie Porter, Whiteboard Queen
By: Kayla Butler
As a constituent of Congresswoman Katie Porter, I’ve been lucky enough to not only vote for her multiple times, but to also witness the great things that she has done for California’s 45th congressional district, which encompasses several cities in Orange County, including Irvine, Villa Park, Laguna Hills and parts of Anaheim. In 2018, Porter won a close race that ended 36 straight years of Republican representation in the district. She ran as a champion of Medicare-for-All and had the support of Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Congresswoman Porter supports the protection of reproductive rights, social security, and our environment. In 2021, during her second term in office, she ranked #5 among congressional fundraisers. Katie Porter is a formidable combination of intelligence and relatability, something quite rare in politicians today.
I admire Congresswoman Porter because she’s a bold leader who is not afraid to stand up to corporations and corruption. She is courageous – especially when she pulls out her whiteboard during Financial Services committee hearings. The former CEO of Celgene, a pharmaceutical company, found himself staring at Congresswoman Porter’s whiteboard during a contentious committee meeting. According to Porter, he was gouging the price of the chemotherapy drug, Revlimid, without improving its efficacy. She broke it all down on her whiteboard to highlight the increase in the price of one pill of Revlimid over the years. This wouldn’t be the last time that her whiteboard would make an appearance during one of these meetings.
When Congresswoman Porter pulls out her whiteboard, it's over. Her whiteboard serves as an essential part to her argument that includes her notes and important numerical figures. This whiteboard first became popular when she used it to pass legislation guaranteeing free COVID-19 testing for all Americans, regardless of whether they have health insurance.
I not only admire Katie’s tenacity, but also her no-nonsense attitude. She truly works to improve the lives of the people she represents, including myself and my family. Porter told The Nation, “Because of my work as a lawyer and consumer advocate, I also have a rigorous understanding of the 2008 financial crisis, which decimated family finances and helped cause the economic inequality that we face today.” Last year, she reintroduced the Family Savings for Kids and Seniors Act, a bill that would tie to inflation the amount of pre-tax dollars parents can set aside to pay for essential things like preschool, day care, senior care, summer camp and after-school care.
As a single mother in Congress, Congresswoman Porter has painted a clear picture about the need for childcare policies like the Child Tax Credit to help working parents. In a Fast Company article, Porter said, “When I think about things like paid family leave or childcare or even issues like pay equity, I don’t think about these things as primarily for women or even primarily for children.” She added, “I think about them as things for our economy, and I’ve never met anyone, young or old or retired or just starting out in their career…who doesn’t want to have a strong and stable and globally competitive economy. And we can’t do that if we’re having people exit the workforce because they can’t find childcare, because they can’t continue to work after they’ve given birth, because they’re not getting paid fairly in the workplace.”
It's incredibly refreshing to have someone like Katie Porter in Congress. She’s popular in every sense of the word because she is not only relatable and draws on her own life experiences, but because she genuinely cares about the issues that plague the communities that she represents. As Katie Porter begins to navigate her next race in newly drawn CA-47, I’ll continue to keep my eye on her and support her as she fights for working families in California. She’s going to have to put up a tough fight because this district leans Democratic by 1 point.
It’s vital that we elect and vote for representatives at every level of government who care about the interests of the people they represent and fight for those issues. More women should aspire to run for leadership positions and take after Katie and the incredible work that she is doing. I love Representative Katie Porter and I hope to see many more legislators who have persistence like her. Katie will go incredibly far as a politician and I envision her running for a U.S. Senate seat one day. Personally, I can’t wait to see what Katie’s whiteboard says in 2022, and hope she continues to hold people and corporations accountable.