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Nicola 'Niki' Sauvage Tsongas
Birthdate: April 26, 1946
Birth Place: Chico, CA, United States
Residence: Lowell, MA
First Elected: 2007
District: District 3
Undergraduate: Michigan State University
Undergraduate: Smith College
Graduate: Boston University
Niki Tsongas was born in Chico, Calif., and lives in Lowell, Mass. She earned a bachelor's degree from Smith College and a law degree from Boston University.
Much of her life has been spent in various board and civic positions. She worked as dean of external affairs at Middlesex Community College in Lowell before running for Congress.
Tsongas won her first bid for office in October 2007 during a special election to succeed Rep. Martin Meehan. She won re-election in 2008 without opposition.
Tsongas has three daughters with her late husband, Paul Tsongas, who served in the U.S. House and Senate and was a 1992 candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Niki Tsongas has a family name associated with politics. Before running for Congress in 2007, she stood beside her late husband, Paul Tsongas, as he ran for seats in the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate, and for the presidency in 1992.
She is seeking her third full term in the U.S. House in November 2012.
In 2012, Tsongas introduced a bill aimed at protecting the Nashua River's water quality.
She also co-introduced 2012 legislation that is aiming at helping military families avoid predatory lenders while facing financial challenges.
She says she favors repealing Bush-era tax cuts for the top 2 percent of taxpayers and ending tax breaks for oil companies and multinational corporations that ship American jobs overseas.
Tsongas voted for the 2010 health care reform bill. She called the June 2012 decision by the Supreme Court a victory. "As a result of today's ruling, seniors will continue to get help paying for prescription drugs, students and young people will be able to stay on their parents' insurance plans, insurance companies will be prevented from charging women more than men, and a pre-existing condition will no longer prevent someone from getting quality, affordable care," she said.
She filed bills in March 2009 to improve mental health care for veterans, saying recent studies showed almost 300,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have shown signs of post-traumatic stress disorder or other forms of depression. The bills would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to report vacancies in mental health professional positions and develop a pilot program to train counselors at higher education facilities to recognize post-traumatic stress disorder.
The House approved legislation introduced by Tsongas in September 2008 to preserve Col. James Barrett's farm in Concord, Mass., a historic site that played a prominent role in the first battle of the Revolutionary War. The bill brings Barrett's farm into Minute Man National Park.
Tsongas participated in a budget hearing with Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, in October 2008 when she said she would advocate for additional relief for cities and towns in any stimulus package. Tsongas supported the October 2008 financial bailout plan.
She wrote legislation in May 2009 funding the development of light-weight body armor to give soldiers greater flexibility and better protection on the battlefield.
The congresswoman's husband, Paul Tsongas, was a mild-mannered, deep-thinking liberal Democrat who served on the Lowell City Council before moving on to Congress.
Paul Tsongas discovered a lump in his armpit in 1983 that doctors diagnosed as cancer. He retired from the Senate in 1985 after one term to focus on his treatment and build wealth to sustain his family should he die. The diagnosis prompted Niki Tsongas to earn a law degree at Boston University so she could also support her family.
Following treatments that sent his cancer into remission, Paul Tsongas settled into a routine of corporate board work and civic engagement.
Niki Tsongas was at her husband's side in April 1991 when he declared he was running for the Democratic presidential nomination. Tsongas won 10 primaries and caucuses, but yielded to rival Bill Clinton, who secured the nomination and the presidency.
He suffered a relapse in 1996 and succumbed to side effects from cancer treatments in 1997.
Niki Tsongas ultimately moved to Boston's Charlestown neighborhood. She remained connected to Lowell as a dean at Middlesex Community College before beating Republican Jim Ogonowski in a 2007 special election to succeed U.S. Rep Martin Meehan.
Source: Associated Press
113th Congress on Twitter
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