Julia Brownley was first elected to Congress in 2012 to serve as the Representative for California’s 26th District, which encompasses most of Ventura County and a portion of Los Angeles County, including the cities of Ventura, Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Ojai, Santa Paula, Fillmore, Camarillo, Moorpark, Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village, along with some areas of Simi Valley.
As her first committee assignment, Congresswoman Brownley requested to serve on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, where she works closely with Ventura County’s veterans community and Naval Base Ventura County, making sure we provide the services and care our servicemembers, veterans, and their families have earned and deserve. Brownley was elected as Chairwoman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health. Brownley is also the founder and Chairwoman of the Committee’s Women Veterans Task Force.
As Chairwoman of the Health Subcommittee, Brownley focuses on improving veterans’ access to mental and physical health care, improving services for female veterans, and helping servicemembers transition from the military to the VA health care system. One of Brownley’s signature achievements was passing her Female Veterans Suicide Prevention Act in 2016, which would require VA to collect data on women veterans in order to identify best practices, programs, and services to end female veteran suicide. Brownley also secured passage of the Deborah Sampson Act, the most comprehensive legislation for women veterans in a decade. The bill, which was signed into law in January 2021, will help address the inequities and barriers that women veterans face when accessing VA care and benefits.
Locally, Brownley spearheaded passage of legislation authorizing VA to move forward with development of a new, 41,000 sq. ft. community clinic, which will expand specialty health services and increase staffing. The new community clinic is scheduled to open in 2022, and will be located at 5250 Ralston Street in Ventura. Brownley has also held several local field hearings to bring attention to the need to expand VA services in Ventura County, including complementary and alternative medicine, long-term care, and tele-health. In 2017, the House Democratic Caucus selected Brownley to co-chair the Reinvesting in Our Returning Heroes Task Force, based on her ongoing leadership on veterans’ issues. She was named HillVets Legislator of the Year in 2018 and received the Blinded Veterans Association Legislative Champion Award, as well as the Health IT Now Pioneer Award for her work expanding telemedicine at the VA. In 2021, Brownley was the recipient of the American Legion’s Distinguished Public Service Award for her “outstanding record in support of veterans.”
Brownley also sits on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, where she serves on the Subcommittee on Aviation and the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit. Since coming to Congress, Brownley has been a steadfast champion of the Port of Hueneme, Channel Islands Harbor, Ventura Harbor, and our local airports, which are significant economic hubs for our community. She has helped secure funds and resources to maintain and expand our local infrastructure, promote job creation, and revenue growth for the region. She passed legislation ensuring the Port of Hueneme would be eligible for ‘donor port’ funds for infrastructure development. She received the Contract Tower Congressional Leadership Award for her advocacy on air traffic control issues. She also spearheaded passage of legislation in the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act to improve air travel for disabled veterans and other individuals with disabilities. Brownley also serves on the New Democrat Coalition’s Infrastructure Task Force.
In 2019, Brownley was appointed by the Speaker of the House to serve on the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis because of her long career fighting at the forefront of environmental policy. She was a co-author of the Committee’s 2020 report, Solving the Climate Crisis: The Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy and Just America, which was praised as “the most detailed and well-thought-out plan for addressing climate change that has ever been a part of US politics.”
In 2021, Brownley joined the House Committee on Natural Resources where she serves on the Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife. In Congress, Brownley has been an outspoken advocate for preserving the natural beauty of Ventura County and for ensuring our coastal communities are protected from the effects of climate change. She has also worked tirelessly to help Ventura County recover from increasingly frequent and severe wildfires and to help our communities prepare and adapt to mitigate future climate impacts.
While in the California Assembly, Brownley served for six years on the Committee on Natural Resources, which had primary jurisdiction over air quality, climate change, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and coastal protection. She also took a leadership role in overseeing implementation of AB32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, landmark legislation that propelled our state forward as a national and global leader in taking concrete action to address the climate crisis. She also received the 2010 Environmental Champions Award from the Environmental Working Group and is a recipient of the Sierra Club Political Leadership Award.
Brownley has also been recognized for her leadership on healthcare issues, including being named Outstanding Federal Legislator by the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, Distinguished Community Health Advocate by the National Association of Community Health Centers, and a Champion of Change by the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS). She also received the NDSS Down Syndrome Research Super Hero Award, the National Association of County Behavioral Health & Developmental Disability Directors Award for Service in Behavioral Health and Criminal Justice, and the American Cancer Society Relay for Life of Ojai Valley Appreciation Award.
In addition, Brownley was honored with the Women Lawyers of Ventura County Legacy Award, the Ventura County Workforce Development Board Collaborative Action Award, the Federally Employed Women Appreciation Award, the Small Business Council of America Congressional Rising Star Award, and the Humane Society Humane Advocate Award. She was also named the National Association for Bilingual Education Legislator of the Year.
Brownley began her career in public service in 1994 after deciding to run for the local school board as a way to advocate for a better education for her daughter, who had dyslexia, and other special-needs students. She won and served on the school board for three subsequent terms working to ensure that local schools provided a quality education for every student in the district. She was elected to the California State Legislature in 2006, where she served as Chairwoman of the Assembly Education Committee for four years. She also served on every educational committee in the Assembly, including the Committee on Higher Education, Budget Subcommittee No. 2 on Education Finance, and the State Allocation Board.
After graduating with a B.A. in political science from George Washington University and earning an M.B.A. from American University, Congresswoman Brownley held several marketing positions with private businesses before finding her true calling in public service. She resides in Westlake Village, in Ventura County, and has two children: Hannah, who works for an international aid organization, and Fred, who graduated from UCLA Medical School and is currently a physician at UCSF Medical Center.