Titus was born in Thomasville, Georgia. Her mother is of Greek descent, and she was raised Greek Orthodox. She grew up in Tifton, Georgia. Her first exposure to politics came at an early age, when her father, Joe Titus, ran for the Tifton City Council. Her uncle, Theo Titus, served in the Georgia House of Representatives for many years. She attended a summer program at The College of William & Mary and was admitted full-time for the fall without a high school diploma. There she earned her bachelor's degree in political science. Titus went on to earn a master's degree from the University of Georgia and a Ph.D. from Florida State University.
After a year teaching at North Texas State University, Titus moved to Nevada for a faculty position in the political science department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). During her 30 years there, her students included a virtual who's-who list in Nevada government, public service and legal circles, and her classes' popularity was reflected in the teaching-related awards she received. She created and continues to coordinate UNLV's Legislative Internship Program, which gives students an opportunity to work at the state legislature.
Titus in 2009
First elected in 1988, Titus served for 20 years in the Nevada Senate, representing the 7th district. Her major achievements from the 2007 session included:
Access to vaccines
Titus authored a bill that requires health insurance companies to cover the costs of the HPV vaccine Gardasil. Gardasil protects women and girls from 70% of cervical cancers. The bill passed both the Senate and the Assembly and was signed by Governor Jim Gibbons.
Regulation of credit card rates
Titus authored a bill banning "universal default clauses" that have enabled some credit card issuers to boost interest rates by 30% or more. The bill passed the Senate and Assembly, but was vetoed by Gibbons. Credit card providers Citibank and Chase rolled back or eliminated universal default clauses due to political pressure in the U.S. Congress.
Measure to care for pets in emergencies
Titus authored a bill that provides for the rescue of pets in a natural disaster emergency. It was co-sponsored by Senators Randolph Townsend and Valerie Wiener. Titus told Las Vegas television station KVBC: "We all remember heartbreaking scenes and stories from Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida.. When lives are turned upside down by disaster, people seek comfort and normalcy. To exacerbate problems by forcing a disaster victim to leave behind a beloved pet--a member of their family--is both unconscionable and entirely unnecessary. Emergency responders can and should take into account pets and service animals in disaster rescue and recovery plans. Planning could save disaster victims from needless additional pain at a most difficult time." The bill was signed into law in June 2007.
U.S. House of Representatives
Democrats were heavily targeting 3rd district Republican incumbent Jon Porter. Their top candidate was Clark County prosecutor Robert Daskas, but Daskas dropped out in April for family reasons. Democrats then recruited Titus, who had won the district in her unsuccessful 2006 run for governor. Titus defeated Porter in November, 47% to 42%, becoming the first Democrat to represent the district. She was a major beneficiary of the overall anti-Bush sentiment in the Las Vegas area. She was elected Regional Whip in the 111th Congress.
Republican former State Senator Joe Heck defeated Titus by less than 2,000 votes.
On October 31, 2011, Titus entered the Democratic primary for Nevada's 1st congressional district, where her home had been placed by redistricting. The incumbent, fellow Democrat Shelley Berkley, gave up the seat to run for the United States Senate. While the 3rd is considered a swing district, the 1st is far and away the safest Democratic seat in Nevada. She initially faced a challenge from State Senator Ruben Kihuen in the primary. Kihuen dropped out in February 2012, reportedly due to trailing in polls and fundraising. This all but assured Titus's return to Congress after a two-year absence. She easily defeated her Republican challenger, Chris Edwards.
On December 18, 2019, Titus voted for both articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.
Titus has sponsored at least 59 bills, including:
111th Congress (2009-10)
H.R. 3164, a bill to expand the tax credit for classroom expenses for teachers, and to have the credit adjust to inflation annually, introduced September 9, 2009
H.R. 3952, a bill to increase the allowable deduction from 50% to 80% of business meal and entertainment expenses for businesses that employee an average of less than 50 employees in a single taxable year, introduced October 28, 2009
H.R. 5518, a bill to allow for an energy tax credit for expenses for investment in equipment using natural gas to heat or cool a structure, and to allow for a natural gas heat pump property credit for 30% of natural gas heat pump property expenses, introduced June 10, 2010
113th Congress (2013-14)
H.R. 2086, a bill to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide disability payments during any period in which someone's disability is being adjusted for disabilities for which the Secretary has already decided whether to provide benefits, introduced May 22, 2013
H.R. 2527, a bill to extend the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) care and counseling program for military sexual trauma to veterans who experienced such trauma during active duty or training, introduced June 26, 2013. It passed the House but has yet to become law.
H.R. 3441, a bill make eligible the spouses of post-9/11 veterans for veteran spousal education assistance, introduced October 30, 2013
H.R. 3442, a bill to provide grants to nonprofit organizations in the 75 most populous U.S. cities to establish clearinghouses to help veterans find employment, introduced October 30, 2013
H.R. 3443, a bill to extend the program of assistance support services for caregivers of veterans to include all caregivers, introduced October 30, 2013
H.R. 3568, a bill to establish a "STEM Education and Training Account" to be used to create a STEM scholarship program, to support K-12 STEM education, and to ensure STEM capacity building at minority-serving institutions, introduced November 20, 2013. This bill's fund is included as part of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, which passed the Senate but has yet to become law.
H.R. 4249, a bill to replace reduced-cost school lunches with free school lunches, to expand the free school lunch program to breakfast, and to award grants to help states provide food to students during summer months, introduced March 13, 2014
H.R. 4942, a bill to establish medical residency programs at VA health care centers experiencing shortages of physicians or VA health care centers in communities experiencing shortages of physicians, introduced June 23, 2014
H.R. 5297, a bill to require tax-exempt organizations to submit their tax returns electronically, to publicly disclose such returns in a machine-readable format, and to require the Attorney General to maintain a database of charities or charity management officials who have been convicted of fraud, theft, or a financial offense, with states publicly releasing such information upon the attorney general's request, introduced July 30, 2014
114th Congress (2015-2016)
H.R. 5084, a bill to direct the Department of the Army to reserve 100 in-ground burial plots at Arlington National Cemetery for interment of deceased Medal of Honor recipients.
H.R. 5083, a bill to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs' appeals process.
H.R. 4990, a bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code to require tax-exempt organizations to file their returns electronically. The IRS must make the returns available to the public in a machine-readable format as soon as practicable.
H.R. 3419, a bill to authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs to make up to 50 grants in FY2016 to eligible educational institutions to provide child care services on campus for student veterans.
H.R. 4430, a bill to require each air carrier providing passenger air transportation to provide flight attendants, pilots, and dispatchers who are employees or contractors of the carrier with training to combat human trafficking. Such training shall cover common indicators of human trafficking and best practices for reporting suspected trafficking to law enforcement.
H.R. 3264, a bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code to expand eligibility for the retirement savings tax credit by increasing income eligibility limits. Allows an annual inflation adjustment to such income levels for taxable years beginning after 2015.
H.R. 2681, a bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to establish in the Treasury the STEM Education and Training Account.
H.R. 1676, a bill to amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to direct the Secretary of Agriculture, subject to the availability of appropriations, to implement a pilot program providing commodities, on a competitive basis, to nonprofits for the provision of nutritious food to at-risk school children on weekends and during extended school holidays during the school year. (At-risk school children are those who participate in the school lunch program and live in an area served by a school at least 50% of whose students receive free or reduced price meals under the school lunch or breakfast programs.)
H.R. 1519, a bill to direct the Secretary of Education to award National Classified School Employee of the Year Awards to classified public school employees in certain occupational specialties who provide exemplary service to students in prekindergarten through higher education.
H.R. 3755, a bill to amend title XVIII (Medicare) of the Social Security Act to revise provisions related to graduate medical education (GME) residency positions and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
H.R. 3696, a bill to amend Medicare to prevent 2016 increases to Part B premiums and deductibles for enrollees and authorize federal funding to offset the corresponding reduction in aggregate monthly premiums.
H.R. 3193, a bill to amend the Animal Welfare Act to require research facilities, dealers, exhibitors, intermediate handlers, and carriers to develop, document, and follow a contingency plan to provide for the humane handling, treatment, transportation, housing, and care of their animals in case of an emergency or disaster.
H.R. 2562, a bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend the special expensing rules for certain film and television productions.
H.R. 1414, a bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, before adjudicating a claim that requires decisions with respect to two or more disabilities, to make interim payments based on any disability about which the Secretary has already made a decision.
H.R. 1598, a bill to amend the definition of "spouse" for purposes of veterans' benefits to require the Department of Veterans Affairs to recognize a marriage based on the law of the state where the marriage occurred.
H.R. 1364, a bill to prohibit the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from authorizing construction of a nuclear waste repository unless the Secretary of Energy has entered into an agreement to host the repository with the following entities: the governor of the state where the repository is proposed to be located, each affected unit of local government, any unit of general local government contiguous to the affected unit if spent nuclear fuel or high-level radioactive waste will be transported through that unit, and each affected Indian tribe.
H.R. 857, a bill to withdraw 805,100 acres of federal land in Garden Valley, Nevada, from: (1) entry, appropriation, and disposal under the public land laws; (2) location, entry, and patent under the mining laws; and (3) operation of the mineral leasing, mineral materials, and geothermal leasing laws.
H.R. 856, a bill to establish the Gold Butte National Conservation Area in Nevada, which shall consist of 348,515 acres of public land administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Withdraws public land within the conservation area from: (1) entry, appropriation, operation, or disposal under the public land laws; (2) location, entry, and patent under the mining laws; and (3) disposition under the mineral leasing, mineral materials, and the geothermal leasing laws.
H.R. 807, a bill to designate the peak of Frenchman Mountain in Nevada as the Maude Frazier Mountain.
H.R. 1108, a bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code to prohibit the imposition of a tax on any wager on a sporting event if the wager is authorized under the law of the state in which it is accepted.
H.R. 517, a bill to establish a task force to evaluate the backlog of appeals to claims submitted to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
Titus at the 2008 Nevada Democratic State Convention
Incumbent GovernorKenny Guinn could not run in 2006 due to term limits. Titus won the Democratic nomination, but lost to Republican Congressman Jim Gibbons. Titus won Clark County, but her margin there was not enough to overcome Gibbons's landslide margin in the 2nd district.
Titus has been married to Thomas C. Wright since 1979. Wright is a retired professor of history at UNLV. His studies in his field of expertise, Latin American history, have taken the couple on extended journeys throughout Central and South America and to Spain.
Titus is also a member of the Tortoise Group of Clark County, the Nevada Test Site Historical Foundation, the PEO International, the National League of American Pen Women, the Nevada Women's Lobby, the Women's Research Institute of Nevada, the Nevada Commission on Participatory Democracy, the Clark County Neighborhood Justice Center, the Las Vegas Little Theater, the Educational Commission of the States, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Nature Conservancy. On April 13, 2009, the Paradise Democratic Club of Las Vegas named her Outstanding Democrat of the Year for the second time. President Obama sent her a congratulatory letter. In December 2010, Senate Majority LeaderHarry Reid appointed her to a six-year term on the United States Commission on Civil Rights. She is of the Greek Orthodox faith.