HILL, Katie

HILL, Katie
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives


In 2018 Katie Hill of California flipped a seat in the United States House of Representatives, helping Democrats capture the majority for the first time in a decade. A political newcomer, Hill represented a new generation of activists. “I said if ever there was a time that someone needed to step up and do something, and this is the way I can try and do that, then I’m going to give it a shot.”1

Katie Hill was born on August 25, 1987, to Mike, a police officer, and Rachel Hill, a nurse. Hill graduated from Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California, in 2004. Growing up, she planned on becoming a nurse like her mother and grandmother. But after interning in an emergency room and witnessing the health care realities of the uninsured, Hill decided to advocate for the needs of the underserved on a policy level.2 In 2011 she earned a BA from California State University, Northridge, and completed her MPA there in 2014. After graduation, she worked at a nonprofit advocating for people experiencing homelessness. In 2010 Katie Hill married Kenny Heslep. They separated in 2019.3

Inspired by the women’s movement in 2017, Katie Hill declared her candidacy for a seat in the U.S. House on International Women’s Day on March 6, 2018.4 California’s Twenty-Fifth District stretched across the northern suburbs of Los Angeles; it traditionally voted Republican, but Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton won the district two years earlier during the presidential contest. In California’s open primary—in which all candidates appear on the same ballot—Hill came in second with 20 percent of the vote behind the incumbent Republican Representative Steve Knight. The policies of the Donald J. Trump administration featured prominently in the general election, and Hill defeated Knight with 54 percent of the vote on Election Day.5 “I entered this race to serve our community and bring our voice and priorities to Washington,” Hill said. “I look forward to working on behalf of everyone in this district to ensure we all have access to quality health care, housing we can afford, and a representative and transparent government which truly serves the people.”6

Before the official start of the 116th Congress (2019–2021), Hill was one of two freshmen lawmakers selected to join Democratic leadership to represent the interests of the new class of first-term legislators.7

In the House, Hill was assigned to three committees: Oversight and Reform; Science, Space, and Technology; and the Armed Services Committee.8 Alongside her seat in party leadership, Hill also served as vice chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. “We absolutely have to make sure that those with the privilege of public service are deserving of public trust,” she said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure we are always committed above all to the truth and the American people.”9

From her influential seat on the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Hill worked on important issues to her district and state. In the fall of both 2017 and 2018, California experienced devastating wildfires—Hill had to flee her own home in 2018. Concerned that 2019 was also shaping up for a bad fire season, Hill led a site hearing to her district in August 2019 to investigate how the government responded to prior fires and learn how it was preparing for future fire seasons. Alongside Harley Rouda of California, the chair of Oversight’s Subcommittee on the Environment who also helped lead the hearing, Hill and her colleagues heard from first responders and scientists. “I am proud to be working with our state and local representatives as we try to figure out long-term solutions and the Federal Government’s role in addressing this crisis,” she said. “We cannot be complacent as wildfires continue to devastate our communities. It would be irresponsible to pretend that fire seasons today are no different from fire seasons of the past. Yes, this is our new normal, but we can and must do better to protect communities from wildland fires, and that is where the focus of our resources and attention should be.”10 In the fall of 2019, California experienced another bad fire season.11

During the first session of the 116th Congress, Hill sponsored legislation to expand protections for whistleblowers, lessen penalties for missed Medicare deadlines, and create a new national memorial in Los Angeles.12 In June 2019, the House approved Hill’s amendment to a government funding bill that provided an extra $7 million to the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service to help the government prepare for and respond to wildfires.13

In October 2019, private photos of Hill were published online without Hill’s consent. Hill blamed her estranged husband and promised to pursue legal action. Allegations that she had had a relationship with a former aide also emerged. Citing harassment and threats of violence against her, Hill resigned from the House on November 3, 2019.14 “As I turn my attention to other battles for now,” Hill wrote in her resignation letter, “I leave with deep gratitude and commitment to the success and well-being of my wonderful community and my incredible colleagues, especially my fellow members of the freshman class who have brought unprecedented promise, vigor, and vision to Congress.”15


1Lexi Churchill, “Just Two LGBTQ Women Currently Serve In Congress—These 6 Candidates Could Change That,” 7 August 2018, CNBC, https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/07/these-lgbtq-women-candidates-could-make-history-in-congress.html.

2Churchill, “Just Two LGBTQ Women Currently Serve In Congress—These 6 Candidates Could Change That.”

3Lisa Bonos, “Think Divorce is Miserable? Try Getting One While Serving in Congress,” 5 November 2019, Washington Post: C1.

4Lindsay Schnell, “Forget the Pantsuit. In 2018, ‘Badass’ Female Candidates Show Strength After Decades of Being Told How to Look, Sound and Act,” 1 November 2018, USA Today, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/11/01/midterm-elections-2018-women-show-physical-strength-campaign-ads/1835617002/; Dana Goodyear, “Katie Hill Is A New Kind of California Democrat. Can She Help Flip the House?” 12 June 2018, New Yorker, https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/katie-hill-is-a-new-kind-of-california-democrat-can-she-help-flip-the-house.

5Andrew Gumbel, “Katie Hill: Can ‘America’s Most Millennial Candidate’ Win?,” 23 October 2018, The Guardian (UK), https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/oct/22/millennial-candidate-midterms-katie-hill-25th-district; “California Election Results: 25th House District,” 11 June 2018, New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/elections/results/california-house-district-25-primary-election; Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives, “Election Statistics, 1920 to Present.”

6Kevin Modesti, “Election 2018: Steve Knight Concedes; Democrat Katie Hill Wins the 25th Congressional District,” 7 November 2018, Los Angeles Daily News, https://www.dailynews.com/2018/11/07/election-2018-steve-hill-concedes-democrat-katie-hill-wins-the-25th-congressional-district/; Lisa Hagen, “GOP’s Knight Concedes to Dem Katie Hill in Critical California House Race,” 7 November 2018, The Hill, https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/414801-dem-katie-hill-defeats-knight-in-critical-california-house-race.

7Caroline Simon, “Katie Hill Sees Herself as Bridge-builder Between House Democratic Leaders and Progressive Freshmen,” 12 September 2019, Roll Call, https://www.rollcall.com/news/congress/katie-hill-sees-herself-as-a-bridge-builder-between-democratic-house-leaders-and-progressive-freshmen.

8Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives, “Women Members’ Committee Assignments (Standing, Joint, Select) in the U.S. House, 1917– Present."

9“Cummings Announces Subcommittee Chairs and Full Committee Vice Chair,” official website of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, press release, 24 January 2019, https://oversight.house.gov/news/press-releases/cummings-announces-subcommittee-chairs-and-full-committee-vice-chair; Simon, “Katie Hill Sees Herself as Bridge-builder Between House Democratic Leaders and Progressive Freshmen.”

10Hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Subcommittee on the Environment, Courage Under Fire: Examining Government Preparedness and Response to Wildfires in California, 116th Cong., 1st sess. (2019): 5.

11Tim Arango, Jose A. Del Real, and Ivan Penn, “5 Lessons We Learned From the California Wildfires,” 4 November 2019, New York Times, https://www. nytimes.com/2019/11/04/us/fires-california.html.

12To amend title 5, United States Code, to allow whistleblowers to disclose information to certain recipients, H.R. 1064, 116th Cong. (2019); H.R. 1788, 116th Cong. (2019); Saint Francis Dam Disaster National Memorial Act, H.R. 1015, 116th Cong. (2019).

13H. Amdt. 435 to H.R. 3055, 116th Cong., 1st sess. (2019); Representative Katie Hill (@RepKatieHill), “My amendment to provide additional funds to help us prepare, combat, and reduce the risk of wildfires just passed the House with HUGE bipartisan support: a 377 to 55 vote,” Twitter, 20 June 2019, 7:31 p.m., https://twitter.com/RepKatieHill/status/1141851167699419136.

14Masha Gessen, “The Terrorization of Katie Hill,” 5 November 2019, New Yorker, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-terrorization-of-katie-hill; Sara D. Wire, “Rep. Katie Hill Resigns,” 1 November 2019, Los Angeles Times: A10.

15Congressional Record, House, 116th Cong., 1st sess. (5 November 2019): H8727.

View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

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Bibliography / Further Reading

Hill, Katie. She Will Rise: Becoming A Warrior in the Battle for True Equality. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2020.

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Committee Assignments

  • House Committee - Armed Services
  • House Committee - Oversight and Reform
  • House Committee - Science, Space, and Technology
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