Future generations of children might not learn the name of U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz in history class, but they will feel her impact every time they jump in a swimming pool or spa.
Wasserman Schultz championed the first-ever federally mandated aquatics law — the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act. Drafted to prevent drowning entrapments, it was signed into law on Dec. 19, 2007. Wasserman Schultz is the first Jewish Congresswoman ever elected from Florida. She officially took office in the United States House of Representatives in 2005.
As representative of southern Florida, Wasserman Schultz has been an active force in aquatic safety and drowning prevention for nearly two decades. It started when she was a state representative — the youngest woman ever elected to the Florida state legislature. There she was influential in ensuring the passage of the Florida Residential Pool Safety Act, which requires that new or substantially remodeled pools and hot tubs include at least one barrier to entry. This bill became the model for the national legislation, which she introduced on July 11, 2007.
She publicly affirmed her continued commitment to aquatic safety at the 2009 Drowning Prevention Symposium.
“It is my hope that federal, state and local governments continue to recognize the importance of swim lessons for our youth and fully funding programs designed to educate parents and children alike,” she told the symposium audience gathered last year in Miami.
To that end, Wasserman Shultz was influential in the passage of the fiscal year 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, which allotted funding for the enforcement of the VGBA. In addition, along with Rep. Albio Sires (D-N.J.), she introduced House Resolution 57, which condemns the disproportionate number of minority drownings and recogizes the need for improved access to swim lessons in minority communities.