Congressman for the 2nd District of Massachusetts
Jim was born and raised in the Burncoat neighborhood of Worcester. The values he learned from his friends and family are the same ones he fights for every day in Congress: fairness, decency, respect for all people, and the idea that each of us has an obligation to give back to our community. Jim’s parents, Walter and Mindy, own a small package store in Worcester, and his sisters are both public school teachers. He is married to Lisa Murray McGovern and they have two children, Patrick and Molly.
First elected to Congress in 1996, Jim has fought tirelessly for the people of Massachusetts and has earned the respect and trust of his colleagues – including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who named him Chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee during the 116th Congress.
He is a senior member of the House Committee on Agriculture’s Subcommittee on Nutrition and Oversight. He also serves as the Chairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, and is the Democratic Co-Chair of the bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission – both of which monitor, investigate and advocate on behalf of international human rights, the rule of law, and good governance.
Jim’s commitment to public service began at a young age. In 7th grade, Jim volunteered on the 1972 presidential campaign of Senator George McGovern – no relation. When Jim decided to attend college at the American University in Washington, D.C. he applied for an internship in the office of Senator McGovern. He worked his way through college as an intern, earning a BA in history in 1981 before going to work in the office of Congressman Joe Moakley, a Democrat from South Boston. While working for Moakley, Jim went back to American University to earn a Master’s Degree in Public Administration in 1984.
It was also in Moakley’s office that Jim was asked to help lead the investigation of the murders of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter in El Salvador following public outrage in Congress. He exposed that the murders were committed by the U.S. – backed Salvadoran military, leading to a major shift in U.S. foreign policy that made future military aid contingent on improved human rights and a negotiated peace in El Salvador.
Jim saw firsthand what strong, principled leadership looked like while working for Congressman Moakley. But with Newt Gingrich as Speaker, he also saw that too often, Washington worked for the rich and powerful instead of the American people. Jim successfully ran for Congress in 1996 and has won reelection in each subsequent term. After his first election, when Jim was on the House Floor to take the oath of office, he took his two mentors – Moakley and Senator McGovern – with him. He asked them both: “what should I know before I take this oath?”
Senator McGovern said: “get over the fear of losing an election, or else you’ll constantly be obsessed with polls instead of doing what’s right. Always do what’s right.
Congressman Moakley said: “get to know everyone here as a person. Get to know what they stand for and who they are and treat them with respect.”
Jim has never forgotten their advice. From principled stands on tough issues to working with Members of Congress from across the country and on both sides of the aisle, Jim has fought to ensure that every single person in this country and around the world is treated with dignity and respect.