David Bonior is serving his 13th term representing the 10th Congressional District in Michigan. He has also been the chief Democratic whip since 1991.
The whip is the second-ranking member in his or her party's caucus. As whip, Bonior is responsible for the party's legislative strategy in the House and for keeping members informed about upcoming issues and votes, and is a principal spokesman for the party.
Bonior has been at the forefront of efforts to raise the minimum wage because he believes that everybody who works hard should be able to share the American dream. Bonior built bi-partisan support for the 1996 vote to raise the wage to $5.15 an hour. He is leading House efforts to raise it again to $6.15 an hour.
Congressman Bonior believes that every American has the right to affordable high quality healthcare. He has championed a Patient’s Bill of Rights to ensure that patients and their doctors are the ones who make medical decisions, not HMOs or insurance companies.
Over the years, Bonior has fought to strengthen and protect Social Security and Medicare for seniors. With the cost of prescription drugs skyrocketing, Bonior supports effort to allow seniors the option of obtaining prescription drug coverage through Medicare.
He is also an ardent backer of the Hope Scholarship, the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit and expanded Pell Grants, because he believes expanding educational opportunity is the key to greater prosperity.
Bonior believes nothing is more important than ensuring that children have access to safe, disciplined schools with the highest quality teachers. He supports initiatives to reduce class size, and is co-author of the SAVE Act, which would provide more guidance counselors, school safety officers and after school programs.
Concern that our trade agreements do not adequately protect American jobs or promote environmental and human rights standards, Bonior led opposition to a permanent trade deal for China.
He also strongly opposed the North American Free Trade Agreement, which passed in 1993, arguing that it undermines wages on both sides of the border, encourages corporations to relocate where labor and environmental standards are weakest, and endangers the U.S.'s food supply.
In the early 1990s, Bonior became an advocate for the United States-Canada free trade agreement. Representing a state that is Canada's number one trading partner, he knew how good trade agreements have the potential to help the regional - and national - economy. In addition to advocating the act's passage in Congress, Bonior saw there was a dire need to upgrade the physical links between Canada and the United States as well. So he brought together local, state, federal and Canadian officials to promote the construction of a new bridge across the St. Clair River.
Soon after his arrival in Washington, Bonior took up the cause of Vietnam Veterans, who had been treated poorly upon their return from southeast Asia. Making the point that it was important to "separate the warrior from the war," he founded a group called the Vietnam-era Veterans in Congress, and helped guide legislation through the House that specifically addressed the needs of veterans, including education, job training and health care.
Bonior also helped build the coalition that made the national Vietnam Memorial a reality, a wall of names that even today draws crowds of somber visitors. He chronicled the veterans' difficult return home by co-authoring a 1984 book entitled The Vietnam Veteran: A History of Neglect.
Before being elected to Congress, Bonior worked as an adoption caseworker and probation officer. During that time, he was elected to represent Macomb County in the Michigan State House.
Bonior earned a scholarship to the University of Iowa, where he received his B.A. in 1967. Bonior joined the Air Force after college and was stationed in California. There he worked as a cook, slinging hash by day and attending night classes at Chapman University, where he earned a Masters Degree in History in 1972.
Born in Detroit in June 1945, Bonior grew up in Hamtramck and East Detroit (now Eastpointe), Michigan. His father was a city council member and then mayor of East Detroit.
Bonior and his wife Judy have three adult children. He enjoys reading fiction and getting outdoors.