Ellen Tauscher, a former seven-term member of Congress from Contra Costa County and champion of Bay Area transportation projects who served in the Obama administration, died Monday at Stanford University's Medical Center. She was 67.
She had battled pneumonia since January.
A Democrat, Ms. Tauscher sat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and was instrumental in delivering millions of dollars in federal funding to the region, including money for new BART service to the East Bay, Silicon Valley and San Francisco International Airport.
Ms. Tauscher was awarded MTC's John F. Foran Award in 2000, which is given biennially to a legislator who positively influences transportation policy.
"Ellen was not only a personal friend, but an inspiration," said MTC Commissioner Amy Worth, who represents the cities of Contra Costa County. "Ellen understood that smart investment includes public investment; and her support for flexibility in the federal transportation program continues to pay dividends as communities across the country put limited federal dollars to work in ways that are best suited to meet their unique needs."
MTC Chairman Scott Haggerty said Ms. Tauscher's influence stretched beyond the region.
"Ellen was more than just a great champion of the East Bay, she was the leader on transportation policy for the whole Bay Area congressional delegation," he said. "Bipartisanship was a key to her effectiveness. She would work on both sides of the aisle with the understanding that what's good for the Bay Area is good for the whole country."
Said MTC Commissioner Anne Halsted: "Ellen was an incomparable model for leadership, savvy and friendship in all the best ways. She was the quickest study I've encountered, a communicator par excellence and a caring friend to all she knew. She successfully led so many important efforts with confidence, but without hubris. We need more like her."
Ms. Tauscher was born in Newark, N.J., on Nov. 15, 1951. The eldest of four children and the first member of her family to attend college, she graduated in 1974 from Seton Hall University, where she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in early childhood education. In 1989, she moved to California.
Ms. Tauscher represented California’s 10th congressional district in the House of Representatives from 1997 until June 2009. While in Congress, Ms. Tauscher was a leading centrist Democrat and the chairwoman of the New Democrat Coalition, a caucus of 65 moderate Democrats in the House. Her fiscally responsible, bi-partisan, unique brand of leadership in Congress was coined "Tauscherism" by Time Magazine.
President Obama appointed her to the State Department during her seventh term in the House. She was confirmed by the Senate as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs on June 25, 2009. She served in this role until Feb. 6, 2012. Ms. Tauscher served as special envoy for Strategic Stability and Missile Defense at the State Department from Feb. 7, 2012, until her resignation from government service on Aug. 31, 2012.
Since leaving the State Department in 2012, Ms. Tauscher assumed a number of publicly-held corporate and non-profit board positions. She is survived by her daughter Katherine.