As the representative of the 15th district of California, Honda has served on the House Committee on Science and the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. He has also served as the regional whip for Northern California, Hawaii, American Samoa, and Guam, and as chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC). In 2005, he became the vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Honda spent his early childhood in an internment camp in Colorado with his family; they returned to California in 1953. In 1965, he joined the Peace Corps, serving for two years in El Salvador. He then returned to San Jose State University and earned bachelor's degrees in biological sciences and Spanish, and a master's degree in education, after which he became a science teacher and principal. In 1971, Honda was appointed to San Jose's Planning Commission. He was elected to the San Jose Unified School Board in 1981, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors in 1990, and the California Assembly in 1996, before his election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000.