DeLauro never seems to go out of style
There’s no camouflaging Rosa DeLauro.
The brigadier general in Army fatigues and a receiving line of suit-clad politicians only made the deaness of Connecticut’s congressional delegation more conspicuous during a recent visit to Sikorsky.
Maybe it was the pink leather jacket, the Italian scarf or aubergine ankle boots of DeLauro, who helped christen the 1,000th H-60M Black Hawk helicopter at the aviation manufacturer.
But it’s not just DeLauro’s avant-garde style or demonstrative demeanor that pushes the envelope in the drab world of Washington, D.C., influence makers.
It’s her liberal streak, even if it means defying President Barack Obama, as DeLauro did when she opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
“We agree on 99 percent of everything else,” DeLauro said on the floor of Sikorsky’s military hangar earlier this month.
From punishing companies that use off-shore tax shelters and pushing food safety standards to dangling tax credits to those who surrender assault weapons, DeLauro’s agenda has ingratiated her with her base in the 3rd Congressional District. And it has made the 73-year-old New Haven lifer one tough out for Republicans during her 13 terms in the House.
“You don’t mess around with Rosa,” said Nancy DiNardo, a longtime friend and the former state Democratic Party chairwoman. “She’s a lot further left than I will ever be. She doesn’t hide it.”
During the last presidential election in 2012, DeLauro captured 93 percent of the vote in her home city, which is the seat of the district. In 2014, she slipped to 91 percent.
“The big economic issue we face today is people are in jobs that don’t pay enough,” DeLauro said on the floor of Sikorsky’s plant. “People are clamoring for real solutions.”
DeLauro is one of the wealthier members of Congress, with an estimated net worth of $4.13 million in 2015, according to the Capitol Hill publication CQ-Roll Call. Those close to DeLauro say she has eschewed congressional pay raises, using the money to fund a pair of scholarships for college-bound high school students in her district.
Her husband is Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg. The liberal power couple splits time between a New Haven apartment and Capitol Hill town-house in DC, where former Obama chief of staff and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel once rented a basement apartment. The duo regularly host top policymakers there, including liberal Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren in April 2015.
The husband and wife often flock to Italy’s Amalfi Coast, which is home to fewer Amalfitanis, as the locals are known, than New Haven.
Before DeLauro was a congresswoman, she was a chief of staff to Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn. Now, she’s a grandmother of four, including a granddaughter who just turned 8.
“So I have to go rock-climbing on Saturday,” said DeLauro, who suffered a hairline fracture in her knee earlier this year when she fell off a ladder in her apartment.
At Sikorsky, which is part of her district, DeLauro circulated between Teamsters machinists and fellow politicians, including Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy. She fist-bumped one member of their entourage, who said he had a cold.
She’s with her
Despite her consistent ranking as the most liberal of Connecticut’s five House Democrats, DeLauro threw her support early on to Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential race. Clinton went to Yale Law School, along with her husband, Bill Clinton.
“I think she weathers it,” DeLauro said of Clinton’s poisonous matchup with Donald Trump. “It’s a tough political environment.”
DeLauro said there is a “glimmer” of hope for Democrats to take back the majority in the House, which would expand her influence. She is the ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies.
Those close to DeLauro, who has been labeled as a hipster by some websites, say that the fascination with her fashion sense doesn’t bother her the way it might some other female politicians.
DeLauro’s been turning heads for decades, like the time an appropriations chairman visited Dodd’s Capitol Hill office.
“(Dodd) said he walks into the office and there’s Rosa dressed and she looks like one of those Roman guards,” DiNardo said