Now in his fifth term in Congress, Dennis Cardoza has established a reputation as an effective, fiscally-responsible legislator who delivers results for the Central Valley. Cardoza represents California 's 18th Congressional District, which includes Merced County and portions of San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Madera, and Fresno Counties.
In the 110th and 111th Congresses, Cardoza served as Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture, which had a leading role in the formation of the 2007 Farm Bill. The subcommittee was critical to Central Valley farmers because it had jurisdiction over the crops that constitute the lion's share of Central Valley agricultural production. In the 112th Congress, Cardoza is serving as the Ranking Member of the Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry where he is a leader in tackling and solving the crisis that has plagued dairy producers and the industry in recent years.
Cardoza's centrist philosophy is highlighted in his role as a leading member of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of 26 moderate to conservative House Democrats who are committed to fiscal responsibility and accountability for taxpayer dollars. The fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition has led the charge to ensure Congress adheres to fiscal discipline by reining in reckless federal spending.Cardoza believes we still must get back on the road to fiscal responsibility before we pass the nation's keys - and our debt - onto our children and grandchildren, and that quite simply it's high time our country starts paying for what it buys.
Since taking office in 2003, Cardoza has demonstrated a commitment to reaching across the partisan divide to find common ground between Democrats and Republicans. He has a strong record on fiscal responsibility, national security, supporting our veterans, and defending Social Security. Cardoza has worked tirelessly to support legislation that helps Central Valley farmers and has secured hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for vital projects throughout the 18th District.
Cardoza has been a strong and consistent advocate for reducing our nation's dangerous dependence on foreign oil. He strongly supports investing in alternative and renewable energy sources. Cardoza, who has installed solar panels on his family residence in Atwater, introduced a bill that would extend and increase tax credits for solar installation on residential and commercial properties. In 2006, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) named him "Solar Champion of the Year."
Cardoza, who has two adopted children, has been a strong voice on behalf of adoption and foster children and has received numerous awards in recognition of his tireless efforts. In 2007, he introduced legislation that ensured children who age out of the foster care system receive necessary healthcare until the age of 21. The bill was incorporated into a larger piece of larger legislation and became law. In 2005, he introduced the "Military Adoption Act," which makes it easier for military service members to adopt children by allowing them to take paid leave. The bill was also signed into law.
Prior to serving in Congress, Cardoza spent six years in the California State Assembly, where he chaired the powerful Rules Committee and helped forge the Moderate Democratic Caucus. A broad group of organizations honored Cardoza as Legislator of the Year for his efforts to cut taxes, help family farms, and promote education and children's safety.
Cardoza's interest in public service began in college when he interned on Capitol Hill during the summer of 1979. The first in his family to graduate from college, Cardoza went on to run a successful small business. His belief that government should do more to help small businesses and foster economic growth inspired him to serve a term on the Atwater City Council beginning in 1984.
In 1994, Cardoza was appointed to the Merced City Council. His council-related duties on the Merced County Regional Solid Waste Board, the Merced County Association of Governments, and the Atwater Redevelopment Agency provided invaluable experience on dealing with a wide range of important local and county issues.
Cardoza has been relentless in his efforts to establish a University of California campus in the Central Valley. UC Merced, once a dream of Valley educators, students, and parents opened its campus doors in the fall of 2005, and is currently on track to establish its own medical school.
Cardoza, a graduate of the University of Maryland, currently sits on the University of Maryland College of Behavioral and Social Sciences Board of Visitors. He also is a recipient of the UC Merced Chancellor's Medal.
The Congressman has never forgotten his agricultural roots. His grandparents emigrated from Portugal in the early 20th century to farm the rich Merced County soil. The Cardoza family raised dairy cattle and grew sweet potatoes, almonds, watermelons, wheat, oats, and alfalfa.
Representative Cardoza married Dr. Kathleen McLoughlin. They have three children, Joey, Brittany, and Elaina.