Hansen, Julia Butler (1907–1988)

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Hansen, Julia Butler (1907–1988)

U.S. Democratic Congresswoman from Washington (November 8, 1960–December 31, 1974). Born Julia Caroline Butler on June 14, 1907, in Portland, Oregon; died on May 3, 1988, in Cathlamet, Washington; daughter of Don C. Butler and Maude (Kimball) Butler; attended public schools in Washington; attended Oregon State College, 1924–26; University of Washington, A.B., 1930; married Henry A. Hansen, on July 15, 1939; children: David Kimball Hansen.

During her 43-year political career, which included elective offices on the local, state, and federal levels, Julia Butler Hansen served seven consecutive terms as a U.S. congresswoman.

Born in Portland, Oregon, in 1907, Butler attended Oregon State College for two years and then worked her way through the University of Washington, receiving a degree in home economics in 1930. She settled in Cathlamet, Washington, where she entered politics in 1938, winning election to the city council and serving until 1946. She was a member of the state house of representatives from 1939 until her election to Congress in 1960, serving as speaker pro tempore for five years (1955–60) and becoming an expert on transportation issues.

Following the death of Third District Representative Russell V. Mack in March 1960, Hansen was elected to fill the vacancy in the 86th Congress and simultaneously elected to the 87th Congress. She was reelected for six more consecutive terms, during which time she served on numerous committees and chaired the Sub-committee on Interior and Related Agencies of the Committee on Appropriations. Hansen initiated joint resolutions calling for a national traffic safety agency and an independent Federal Maritime administration. She introduced legislation for a joint Congressional committee to investigate crime, for construction of a Veterans' hospital in Vancouver, Washington, and for the regulation of dairy imports. During the war in Vietnam, she urged President Lyndon B. Johnson to seek mediation through the United Nations and also supported UN peace-keeping forces.

During her final congressional term, Hansen chaired the Democratic Committee on Organization, Study and Review, which recommended the first changes in committee structure since passage of the 1946 Legislative Reorganization Act. Hansen's plan, approved in amended form in October 1974, stipulated the expansion of the permanent

committee staff and prohibited voting by proxy in committee, among other changes.

After leaving Congress in December 1974, Hansen served a six-year term on the Washington State Toll Bridge Authority and State Highway Commission (1975–81) and chaired the Washington State Transportation Commission from 1979 to 1980. She spent her final years in Cathlamet, where she died on May 3, 1988.


Office of the Historian. Women in Congress 1917–1990. Commission on the Bicentenary of the U.S. House of Representatives, 1991.

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