Harman, Jane

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HARMAN, JANE (1945– ), U.S. politician, attorney, and college professor. Born in New York City to Adolph N. and Lucille (Geier) Lakes, Harman graduated from the Los Angeles public schools, Smith College (1966), and Harvard University Law School (1969). She married twice, to Richard Frank and to Sidney Harman, and had four children. The Harman family's wealth enabled her to mount costly campaigns. A six-term Democratic congresswoman, who represented the 36th congressional district of California in the United States House of Representatives, Harman was first elected to Congress in 1992. She gave up her seat in Congress in 1998 in an unsuccessful bid for governor of California. In 2002, upon her return, the House Democratic leadership appointed Harman to serve as ranking member on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence for the 108th Congress. As ranking member on the panel's Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security, Harman was at the forefront of all House actions made in response to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Harman also served as a member of the House Select Committee on Homeland Security. Before her re-election to Congress in 2000, Harman was on the 10-member panel of the congressionally mandated National Council on Terrorism. Harman was fiscally moderate, but supported defense spending, thereby aiding defense and aerospace contractors in her district. She was a liberal on social issues, supporting abortion rights and pro-female and pro-child legislation.

Prior to being elected to the U.S. Congress, Harman was a lawyer, a staff member for California Senator John V. Tunney (1972–73), chief counsel and staff director of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights (1975–77), deputy secretary to the cabinet at the White House under President Jimmy Carter (1977–78), and special counsel to the Department of Defense (1979). An adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center (1974–75), Harman taught public policy and international relations at the University of California, Los Angeles where she was named Regents Professor in 1999.


"Harman, Jane," in: K.F. Stone, The Congressional Minyan: The Jews of Capitol Hill (2000), 195–97; "Harman, Jane," in: P.E. Hyman and D. Dash Moore (eds.), Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, vol. 1 (1997), 594–95; "Harman, Jane," in: Who's Who in America 2004, vol. 1, 2158; The Almanac of American Politics 2004, 257–59. websites: www.house.gov/harman; www.congress.org/congressorg/bio.

[Peggy K. Pearlstein (2nd ed.)]