First elected to the House of Representatives in 1992, Deborah Pryce rose through the ranks of leadership to become Republican Conference Chair a decade later, making her the highest–ranking Republican woman in House history. As a member of the Financial Services Committee and as a Deputy Whip, Congresswoman Pryce drew on her background as a former judge and prosecutor to act as a consensus builder in the House.1 Her legislative interests ranged from consumer financial protection to pediatric cancer and adoption practices.
Deborah Denine Pryce was born in Warren, Ohio, on July 29, 1951. She graduated from Ohio State University in 1973 and received her J.D. from Capital University Law School three years later. From 1976 to 1978, Pryce served as an administrative law judge for the Ohio state department of insurance. She worked as a prosecutor and municipal attorney for the city attorney’s office of Columbus from 1978 to 1985. Pryce served two terms as the presiding judge in the municipal court of Franklin County from 1985 to 1992. In 1990, she adopted her daughter, Caroline. After Caroline’s death from cancer in 1999, Pryce founded Hope Street Kids, a nonprofit organization devoted to curing childhood cancer. In 2001, she adopted a daughter, Mia.
In 1992, when 13–term Republican Representative Chalmers Wylie retired from the House, Pryce ran unopposed in the GOP primary. In a hard–fought, three–way general election for the open seat in a district covering western Columbus and its outlying suburbs, Pryce prevailed with 44 percent of the vote. She was successfully re–elected to the six succeeding Congresses, with comfortable margins. In the 2006 elections, however, when Republicans lost their majority status for the first time in 12 years, she narrowly defeated Democrat challenger Mary Jo Kilroy by a 50.2 to 49.7 margin.2
From the beginning of her congressional service, Representative Pryce occupied a leadership position. Elected Republican freshman–class president in 1993, Pryce also was named to the congressional Republican transition team in the following Congress, when Republicans gained control of the House for the first time in 40 years. Two years later in 1996, she was selected a Deputy Majority Whip for the Republican Party. In 1998, GOP colleagues elected Representative Pryce Secretary of the House Republican Conference, the body that oversees the organization of the party. Pryce ran unopposed for the Republican Conference Vice Chair spot in 2000, and in the race for Conference Chair for the 108th Congress (2003–2005) she defeated two opponents to become the highest–ranking woman in the Republican Party. She was re–elected GOP Conference Chair for the 109th Congress (2005–2007).
When Pryce first took her seat in the 103rd Congress (1993–1995), she received assignments on two committees: Banking, Finance, and Urban Affairs; and Government Operations. In the 104th Congress (1995–1997), Pryce left those assignments when she received a seat on the prestigious Rules Committee, with oversight of all legislation headed for floor debate. Aside from a brief stint on the Select Committee on Homeland Security in the 107th Congress (2001–2003), Pryce’s committee focus was on the Rules panel. In the 107th and 108th Congresses, she chaired its Legislative and Budget Process Subcommittee. In the 109th Congress, while Republicans still controlled the House, Pryce left the Rules Committee to accept a seat on the Financial Services Committee, where she was the fourth–ranking Member. She chaired the Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade, and Technology.
Congresswoman Pryce’s legislation reflected her commitment to children and health care issues. She authored the Child Abuse Prevention and Enforcement Act in 1999, a law that boosted federal funding to investigate and prevent child abuse. As the mother of two adopted children, she worked to ease transitional adoption practices for foster parents. Pryce also authored the Afghan Women and Children Relief Act of 2001, which authorized the President to provide health and education assistance to women and children living in Afghanistan through non–governmental organizations. In addition to the creation of her own pediatric cancer research foundation, Representative Pryce was a leading advocate of increasing federal money for cancer research and expanding access to clinical trials for cancer patients. She authored the Patient Navigator, Outreach, and Chronic Disease Prevention Act of 2005, to help individuals in underserved communities overcome cultural, linguistic, and financial barriers to access the health system, which President George W. Bush signed into law.3
From both the Rules and Financial Services committees, Representative Pryce authored key provisions of laws to modernize the nation’s financial services industry and sponsored legislation to protect consumers’ personal and financial information. As chairman of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade, and Technology, Representative Pryce led efforts to overhaul the process by which foreign investments in the U.S. were reviewed by the federal government.4
In August 2007, citing the difficulty of keeping up her hectic congressional schedule while being a single parent to her 5–year–old daughter, Representative Pryce announced her decision not to run for re–election in the fall of 2008.5 Her term expired at the conclusion of the 110th Congress on January 3, 2009.
View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress
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