She defeated Republican incumbent Jim Talent in the 2006 election, by a margin of 49.6% to 47.3%. She became the state's senior U.S. Senator upon the retirement of Kit Bond in 2011 and won a bid for re-election in 2012, defeating Republican Todd Akin by a margin of 54.7% to 39.2%.
Before her election to the U.S. Senate, McCaskill served as the State Auditor of Missouri from 1999 to 2007. She previously served as Jackson County Prosecutor from 1993 to 1998 and as a member of the Missouri House of Representatives from 1983 to 1989. She ran for Governor of Missouri in the 2004 election, beating Democratic incumbent Bob Holden in the primary election but losing to Republican Matt Blunt in a close general election. A native of Rolla, she graduated from the University of Missouri and studied at Georgetown University.
In the 115th Congress, McCaskill will serve as ranking member of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. As of the 114th Congress, McCaskill served as a senior member of the Committee on Armed Services, Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and ranking member of the Special Committee on Aging and the United States Senate Homeland Security Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Before the Democrats lost control of the U.S. Senate in the 2014 General Election, she had been the chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight and subsequently served as ranking member.
McCaskill was born in Rolla, Missouri. McCaskill's father, William Young McCaskill (1925–1993), served as a state Insurance Commissioner during the administration of Governor Warren E. Hearnes. Her mother, Betty Anne (née Ward; 1928–2012), was the first woman elected to the City Council of Columbia, Missouri. Betty Anne McCaskill lost a race for a seat in the state House of Representatives to Leroy Blunt, the father of U.S. Senator Roy Blunt and grandfather of former Missouri Governor Matt Blunt.
McCaskill spent her early childhood in the small Missouri town of Houston, later moving to Lebanon, and eventually Columbia. McCaskill attended David H. Hickman High School in Columbia, where she was a cheerleader, Pep Club president, a member of the debate club, musical cast member, and homecoming queen. While attending the University of Missouri, McCaskill joined Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, graduating in 1975 with a B.A. in political science. She received her Juris Doctor (J.D.) from the University of Missouri School of Law in 1978. In the summer of 1974, before graduating from the University of Missouri, McCaskill studied at the Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems at Georgetown University.
Except for three years spent in private practice as an attorney at the firm of a Kansas City trial lawyer (1989 to 1991), McCaskill has worked in the public sector continuously since graduating from law school in 1978. McCaskill, following her graduation from law school, spent one year as a law clerk on the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District, which sits in Kansas City. Thereafter, McCaskill joined the Jackson County prosecutor's office, where she specialized in arson cases.
In 1982, McCaskill was elected to represent the Brookside neighborhood of Kansas City in the Missouri House of Representatives. McCaskill left the State House to contemplate running for Jackson County Prosecutor in 1988, but did not pursue the position when fellow Democrat and incumbent Prosecutor Albert Riederer decided to seek another term.
In 1990, McCaskill was elected to the Jackson County Legislature (the equivalent of a county commission or county council).
In February 1991, McCaskill testified for a Missouri Senate bill that would prohibit a man accused of raping his wife from using marriage as a defense. "This is simply an issue of fundamental justice. It's embarrassing that we live in a state where it's okay to rape your wife," McCaskill said.
In December 1991, McCaskill announced her intention to run for county prosecutor. At the time of the announcement, the incumbent Democratic Prosecutor Riederer had not announced whether he was going to seek reelection. McCaskill said that crime had "run amok" during Riederer's eleven years as county prosecutor. McCaskill won the Democratic primary, and she went on to win the 1992 general election with 53 percent of the vote. McCaskill was the first woman to serve as prosecutor for Jackson County. She was reelected in 1996 with 71 percent of the vote.
In 1998, McCaskill was elected to the position of State Auditor with 50.3 percent of the vote in the general election. She was the second female to hold the post after her predecessor, Margaret B. Kelly.
When McCaskill ran for reelection in 2002, the winner of the Republican Party primary was Al Hanson, who had previously been incarcerated for fraud. Hanson said he was qualified to detect fraud because he had committed fraud himself. Due to Hanson's history, the leader of the Missouri Republican Party urged voters not to vote for Hanson in the general election. McCaskill was reelected with 60 percent of the vote.
On August 3, 2004, McCaskill defeated incumbent Governor Bob Holden in the Democratic primary, becoming the first person to defeat an incumbent Governor in a primary election in state history.
On November 2, 2004, McCaskill lost to her Republican opponent, then-Secretary of State Matt Blunt in the general election by a margin of 51% to 48%. McCaskill's loss to Blunt was the first defeat in her twenty-year political career.2006
Both Talent and McCaskill easily defeated their opponents in their respective primaries on August 8, 2006. McCaskill and Talent debated each other on Meet the Press on October 8, 2006. On November 8, 2006, McCaskill defeated Talent by a margin of 49.6% to 47.3% with two minor-party candidates taking the remainder.2012
McCaskill was unopposed in the Democratic primary and faced Republican nominee Todd Akin in the general election. Until mid-August, polling showed McCaskill and Akin running neck and neck. Then, in a television interview on August 12, Akin claimed that women who were the victims of what he described as "legitimate rape" rarely experienced pregnancy from rape. His comments caused uproar and he was criticized by members of both parties. He faced calls to withdraw from the race but did not do so and McCaskill opened up increasing leads in opinion polls. Akin's comments caused a backlash amongst voters, particularly women, and McCaskill was re-elected by 54.7% to his 39.2%.
McCaskill is the first elected woman to represent Missouri in the U.S. Senate. Jean Carnahan was appointed to the Senate following her husband's death and posthumous election, but was defeated in a close election by Jim Talent. McCaskill entered the U.S. Senate promising to raise the minimum wage and to work with her counterpart from Missouri, Republican Senator Kit Bond.
Since being elected to the Senate, McCaskill has consistently been named by the National Journal in its ideological rankings as one of the ten most "moderate" Senators. In 2011, she was ranked exactly 50th on its scale of the 100 senators, from most-liberal to most-conservative. The Washington Post reported in 2012 that she was the second-most-likely Democratic Senator to vote against her party.
In January 2008, McCaskill decided to endorse Senator Barack Obama in his campaign for the Democratic nomination for the presidential elections of 2008, making her one of the first senators to do so. She was one of the most visible faces for his campaign, and her support was crucial to Obama's narrow victory in the Missouri primary in February 2008. She has credited her daughter Maddie as the one who made her publicly endorse Obama. She was frequently mentioned as a possible vice-presidential nominee for Obama, but was never seriously considered. She spoke on the opening day of the Democratic National Convention in August 2008.
McCaskill began her role in the 2016 Presidential election in 2013 by endorsing Secretary Hillary Clinton for President. Throughout the primaries, McCaskill was among Secretary Clinton's top surrogates. She struck a dismissive tone towards the campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders, describing him as "too liberal" and "extreme" compared the enthusiasm behind his campaign to be nothing more impressive than that of Ron Paul's campaign from 2012. On March 21, McCaskill called for Bernie Sanders to unite behind Hillary Clinton following Clinton's sweep of southern primaries.
She introduced legislation with then-Senator Obama after the Walter Reed Army Medical Center neglect scandal erupted which demanded the full accountability of wounded veterans and agencies that would ensure physical and mental health conditions being addressed. "Those who have fought this war and felt its effects most personally, our servicemen and women, deserve to have a real researched plan for dealing with the aftermath of their sacrifice, so that the mistakes made by the administration in war planning are not repeated in planning for the readjustment needs of these heroes", McCaskill noted on the Senate floor after Obama made comments about the same issue. She took Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson to task over the "irresponsibility" regarding oversight of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In the Senate Armed Services Committee, McCaskill has made herself known for her aggressiveness in questioning officials in the Department of Defense about their "loose" spending habits. McCaskill grilled top officials of the military's auditing agencies for rewarding KBR for their Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) contract, a contract now valued at over $20 billion, despite audit reports indicating extreme contractor mismanagement and expansive overcharging of the U.S. government. She has been critical of the DoD's auditors, the Defense Contract Audit Agency, based on a recent GAO report that alleges that audits were not properly supported or supervised, and in some cases been changed by managers in order to appease the procurement community and/or the audited contractor.
On December 18, 2010, McCaskill voted in favor of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010. On January 14, 2014, McCaskill introduced the Victims Protection Act of 2014 (S. 1917; 113th Congress) into the Senate. The bill is intended to help protect the victims of sexual assault in the military. The bill would allow victims to give a preference as to whether they would prefer their cases take place in the military or civilian justice systems. It also applies these changes to the military academies. The bill passed the Senate on March 10, 2014 by a vote of 97–0.
As a member of the Senate ad hoc subcommittee on disaster recovery, McCaskill supported Republican U.S. Representative Joseph Cao and fellow Democratic U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu in their insistence on corrections of mismanagement of the New Orleans office of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
McCaskill voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, popularly known as ObamaCare, in December 2009, and she voted for the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. She was critical of the Stupak–Pitts Amendment, which would have placed limits on private funding of abortions in the context of the November 2009 Affordable Health Care for America Act. In April 2017, McCaskill expressed her opposition to a single-payer healthcare system, also referred to as 'Medicare for all'.
On March 16, 2011, McCaskill told reporters that she was "embarrassed" about revelations that her office had used taxpayer money for the senator's use of a private airplane she co-owned with her husband and friends. According to a government audit, the plane was used for 90 flights taken between Washington, D.C., and her home in suburban St. Louis, as well as to numerous sites around the state of Missouri. According to McCaskill's Senate office, all but 1 of the 90 flights in question were within Senate rules. As soon as the story broke, Senator McCaskill sent a check for $88,000 to the U.S. Treasury as reimbursement for the flights.
The Missouri Republican Party filed a formal complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee on March 16. In response McCaskill said, “The Missouri Republican Party is going to try to ride this horse as long as they can. They’re going to try to make this as big a deal as they can. Them filing the ethics complaint is about as surprising as the sun coming up”. On March 21, 2011, Politico reported that McCaskill had failed to pay more than $280,000 in property taxes on the plane and was planning to sell it. "I have convinced my husband to sell the damn plane", McCaskill said on a conference call with reporters. "I will never set foot on the plane again". The Senate Ethics Committee has yet to comment on the matter.
The plane, a 2001 Pilatus PC-12, was sold in October 2011. It was stored at Spirit of St. Louis Airport, McCaskill confirmed, and owned by Timesaver LLC, a Delaware-based corporation. McCaskill noted that she had paid $38,800 in sales taxes on the plane, and she had only recently become aware that Missouri also imposed a property tax on private aircraft. She said she was "disappointed" in herself for not ensuring that Timesaver LLC paid the property taxes. "Frankly, having the plane owned in Delaware would not negate the necessity of paying the personal property tax in Missouri," she said. "This is a mistake. It should have been reported in Missouri. It was owed in Missouri. It will be paid in Missouri today".
On March 2, 2017, McCaskill tweeted that she had had "No call or meeting w/Russian ambassador. Ever". After her own tweets of January 20, 2013 ("Off to meeting w/Russian Ambassador.") and August 6, 2015 ("Today calls with British, Russian, and German Ambassadors") were exposed, McCaskill recanted her tweet of March 2, blaming Twitter's character limit. McCaskill had been a leading critic of Attorney General Jeff Sessions' meetings with Russian government officials in his capacity as United States senator and had been among a chorus of Democrats calling for Sessions' resignation.Committee on Armed Services
Subcommittee on Airland
Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support
United States Senate Committee on Finance
United States Senate Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness
United States Senate Subcommittee on Taxation and IRS Oversight
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (Ranking Member)Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information and International Security
Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (Ranking Member)
Ad Hoc Subcommittee on State, Local, and Private Sector Preparedness and Integration
Senator McCaskill also served as the Chairwoman of the Select Committee for the Impeachment of Samuel B. Kent, which was disbanded July 22, 2009, after Judge Kent resigned, and the United States Senate Homeland Security Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight, which was disbanded in 2013.
McCaskill was married to David Exposito, with whom she had three children. The couple divorced in 1995, after 11 years of marriage, while McCaskill was Jackson County Prosecutor. David Exposito was found murdered in Kansas City, Kansas on December 12, 2005. Exposito's murder has never been solved.
On the October 3, 2009 episode of NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, McCaskill spoke about a vacation early in her career as a lawyer, where she was a contestant on High Rollers. McCaskill would reign as champion for four days, and later sold several of her prizes to pay off her student loan debt. In April 2002, McCaskill married St. Louis businessman Joseph Shepard. Shepard lent $1.6 million to McCaskill's 2004 gubernatorial campaign and also had business interests in the nursing home industry. Because as state auditor McCaskill was responsible for auditing the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, which regulates the state's nursing home system, Shepard's financial interests in the industry became an issue during the 2004 gubernatorial campaign.
McCaskill's mother, Betty Anne McCaskill, died on October 29, 2012, from natural causes at the age of 84.
A convert to Roman Catholicism, McCaskill was denied communion for her pro-choice stance on abortion by then-Bishop Raymond Burke, later Raymond Cardinal Burke.
She joined Sheryl Sandberg's movement to encourage young women to be more assertive in professional interactions.
On February 22, 2016, McCaskill announced that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She stated through Tumblr, "It's a little scary, but my prognosis is good and I expect a full recovery."