Adam was born in Framingham, Massachusetts to Edward and Sherrill Ann Schiff. His father was a clothing salesman and the family ultimately moved to the East Bay — Alamo, California — in search of the California dream. Adam graduated from Danville's Monte Vista High School in the Bay Area, and went on to both Stanford University and Harvard Law School.
After Adam graduated from Harvard, he moved to Los Angeles to serve as a law clerk for Judge William Matthew Byrne, Jr. Adam later joined the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles as a federal prosecutor, where he served for almost six years, most notably prosecuting, Richard Miller, the first FBI agent ever to be indicted for spying for Russia, prosecuting a drug cartel boss, and starting one of the first environmental crimes units in the country, in Los Angeles, California.
Adam and his wife, Eve have two children, a daughter, Alexa, and a son, Elijah.
In 1996, Adam was elected to the California State Senate, and when his term began, he was the Senate’s youngest member. During his four-year term, Adam chaired the Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senate Select Committee on Juvenile Justice, and the Joint Committee on the Arts.
As a state legislator, Adam authored dozens of bills that were enacted into law, from guaranteeing up-to-date textbooks in the classroom, overhauling state child support laws, passing a patient's bill of rights, and guaranteeing cost-of-living increases for teacher pensions. He authored the Schiff-Cárdenas Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act of 2000, which provided millions in funding to keep at-risk youth out of prison. Perhaps most notably, Adam is known as the "Father of the Gold Line" for his work to expand Metro rail into the San Gabriel valley, from Pasadena to Azusa, a project that is still ongoing.
While serving in the State Senate, Adam also was a professor teaching political science courses at Glendale Community College.
In 2000, Adam was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He currently is a member of the House Committee on the Judiciary and is on leave from the House Appropriations Committee. He previously served as Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and as a member of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, the United States House Select Committee on Benghazi and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Adam's top priority is to create economic opportunity for everyone – especially working families. Adam has always believed that small businesses are the true engine of growth, and he continues to fight to enact tax relief for small businesses, create good-paying jobs, and restore America as a manufacturing powerhouse. He was an early advocate for the expansion of Medi-Cal to ensure low-income children and families, pregnant women, and people with disabilities have access to free or low-cost quality health care in the state of California. Adam also is a cosponsor of Medicare for All and continues to fight for expanded access to health care for all. In 2023, Adam secured more than $13.7 million in federal funding to address homelessness and food insecurity, local education, and improve public health and safety programs within his district.
Adam is a longtime champion of the environment and clean energy, as well as investments in infrastructure and mass transit. As a State Senator, he wrote the legislation establishing the Gold Line Light Rail Authority, and in Congress has led efforts to extend the light rail and mass transit throughout Los Angeles County. As one of the bill’s original cosponsors, Adam has been a consistent champion of the Green New Deal, which would combat climate change, invest in clean energy, and create a green economy in California and across the country. Throughout his time in Congress, Adam has pushed to preserve and protect the Rim of the Valley Corridor by adding almost 200,000 acres to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area to protect natural resources and habitats around the Los Angeles basin for generations to come. Adam has also worked with the local community to protect constituents from increased noise from helicopters and airplanes and to secure funding to help restore the Los Angeles River.
Adam has also been a leading advocate for equality and human rights at home and around the world. Adam serves as Vice Chair of the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus and Vice Chair of the Armenian Caucus. He has also led efforts in Congress to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide and in 2019 the U.S. Congress passed Adam's related resolution with overwhelming bipartisan support, ending decades of shameful silence on the issue. Adam has been a leading voice against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and their foreign interference in our elections. He was part of the congressional delegation that traveled to Ukraine to meet with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy in the spring of 2022 and has strongly advocated for the U.S. provision of aid and economic support for Ukraine.
As a former federal prosecutor, Schiff has worked to improve public safety and end the scourge of gun violence, with an emphasis on smart, cost-effective solutions, as well as a leader pushing for criminal justice reform. Among his accomplishments, Adam obtained federal funding to create a Foothills Regional DNA Lab in Glendale to speed the processing of DNA evidence in Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena, and other foothill cities and take violent offenders off the street. Adam also introduced the Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act to ensure the gun industry is not shielded from liability when it acts negligently, and victims of gun violence get their day in court. He has also been a leading proponent in Congress for the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, a program that helps states reduce spending on incarceration while reinvesting the savings in public safety and community investments.
Adam has also long-championed NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and investments in new technology and space exploration, which has fueled his belief that American leadership in space exploration is a key economic driver in tech and emerging industries. Adam has fought hard to preserve and expand the robotic missions undertaken by JPL from missions to Mars to a future mission to Jupiter's moon of Europa. And closer to home, he has partnered with the California Institute of Technology to obtain over $100 million in federal funding for the West Coast Earthquake Early Warning system, which can provide Californians a warning prior to the arrival of a destructive earthquake.
Adam is committed to upholding and strengthening our democracy and the rule of law. He led the House impeachment inquiry and served as the Lead Impeachment Manager during the first Senate impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump. He also served as a member of the January 6th Select Committee.
Adam has worked to harden our defenses against foreign interference in our elections and expose it to the American public. In 2023, he reintroduced the Protecting Our Democracy Act, landmark legislation to prevent the abuse of power by any president and to strengthen checks and balances. He has also fought to strengthen our democracy by championing expansion of voting rights for all Americans, and legislation to expand and protect the rights of all Americans, including women and LGBTQ individuals whose rights have been under assault.
As the former chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Adam is recognized as a leader on national security and foreign policy issues. He has been a longtime advocate of legislation to sunset out of date Authorizations to Use Military Force and to refocus America's counterterrorism mission. Adam has advanced efforts to protect the freedom of the press by authorizing the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act, as well as legislation to prevent the proliferation of nuclear material.