Ellen Tauscher, former House member and diplomat, dies at 67

Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., served in the House from 1997 to 2009, when she left for a position at the State Department. (CQ Roll Call file photo).
Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., served in the House from 1997 to 2009, when she left for a position at the State Department. (CQ Roll Call file photo).
Jason Dick
Posted April 30, 2019 at 11:57am

Ellen Tauscher, a Democrat who represented the eastern San Francisco Bay area in the House and later served as a senior diplomat at the State Department, has died at age 67.

Tauscher was among the more influential House Democrats outside the leadership circle during her time in Congress, as head of the New Democrat Coalition and a respected voice on arms control from her perch atop the Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee. 

She was also trusted by her leadership as a steady presiding officer during tough votes, including the infamous September 29, 2008 vote on the Troubled Asset Relief Program. That vote, taken amid the collapse of the economic markets, failed and further spooked the exchanges. A subsequent revote passed the TARP program to stabilize markets and was eventually signed into law by President George W. Bush. 

“Ellen had a practical and effective way with policy. She had a knack for getting to the bottom of an issue smartly but also in ways that people could really understand. She truly loved her country and it was an honor to work with her,” said a statement from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who hired Tauscher to chair two of her Senate campaigns before Tauscher went on to win her own House seat in 1996. 

After 12 years in the House, including several years leading the New Democrat Coalition, President Barack Obamatapped her in 2009 to served as under secretary for Arms Control and International Security, a position she held until 2012. From that time on, she had served as a State Department special envoy for Strategic Stability and Missile Defense. 

She had stayed involved in electoral politics, co-founding the Fight Back California Super PAC in recent years. 

UNITED STATES MARCH 1: Ellen Tauscher, former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, now with the Atlantic Council, poses on Thursday, March 1, 2012. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Ellen Tauscher, former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, in March, 2012. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Born November 15, 1951 in Newark, N.J., Tauscher’s first career was on Wall Street as an investment banker from 1977-1979 before moving to California and getting involved in politics. 

Tauscher underwent treatment for esophageal cancer in 2010 and earlier this month said she was being treated for pneumonia related to the surgery to address the cancer nearly nine years ago, KRON reported.