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Senate Committee Assignments 2012 Nfl

Bernie Sanders
United States Senator
from Vermont


Assumed office
January 3, 2007
Serving with Patrick Leahy
Preceded byJim Jeffords
Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee


Assumed office
January 3, 2015
Preceded byJeff Sessions
Chair of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee
In office
January 3, 2013 – January 3, 2015
Preceded byPatty Murray
Succeeded byJohnny Isakson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Vermont's at-large district
In office
January 3, 1991 – January 3, 2007
Preceded byPeter Plympton Smith
Succeeded byPeter Welch
37th Mayor of Burlington
In office
April 6, 1981 – April 4, 1989
Preceded byGordon Paquette
Succeeded byPeter Clavelle
Personal details
BornBernard Sanders
(1941-09-08) September 8, 1941 (age 76)
New York City, U.S.
Political partyIndependent (1979–2015; 2016–present)[1]
Other political
Liberty Union (1971–1977)
Democratic (2015–2016)
Spouse(s)Deborah Shiling Messing (m. 1964; div. 1966)[2]
Jane O'Meara (m. 1988)
ChildrenLevi Sanders
RelativesLarry Sanders (brother)
EducationBrooklyn College
University of Chicago (B.A.)
WebsiteSenate website

Bernard Sanders (born September 8, 1941) is an American politician serving as the juniorUnited States Senator from Vermont since 2007; he is the longest-serving independent in U.S. congressional history. Since his election to the House of Representatives in 1990, he has caucused with the Democratic Party, which has entitled him to congressional committee assignments and at times given Democrats a majority. A self-described democratic socialist and a New Deal-era American progressive, Sanders is pro-labor and emphasizes reversing economic inequality.[3][4] Many scholars consider his views to be more in line with social democracy.[5][6]

Sanders was born and raised in the Brooklyn borough of New York City and graduated from the University of Chicago in 1964. While a student he was an active protest organizer for the Congress of Racial Equality and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee during the Civil Rights Movement. After settling in Vermont in 1968, Sanders ran unsuccessful third-party campaigns for Governor and U.S. Senator in the early to mid-1970s. As an independent, he was elected Mayor of Burlington—the state's most populous city—in 1981, by a margin of ten votes. He went on to be reelected as mayor three times. In 1990, he was elected to represent Vermont's at-large congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he co-founded the Congressional Progressive Caucus in 1991. He served as a congressman for 16 years before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006. In 2012, he was reelected with 71% of the popular vote.

Sanders announced his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination on April 30, 2015. Initially considered a long shot, Sanders won 23 primaries and caucuses and approximately 43% of pledged delegates to Hillary Clinton's 55%. His campaign was noted for its supporters' enthusiasm, as well as for his rejection of large donations from corporations, the financial industry, and any associated Super PAC. On July 12, 2016, Sanders formally endorsed Clinton in her unsuccessful general election campaign against RepublicanDonald Trump, while urging his supporters to continue the "political revolution" his campaign had begun.

Sanders has built a reputation as a leading progressive voice on issues such as campaign finance reform, corporate welfare, global warming, income inequality, LGBT rights, parental leave, and universal healthcare. Sanders has long been critical of U.S. foreign policy and was an early and outspoken opponent of the Iraq War, the First Gulf War, and U.S. support for the Contras in Nicaragua. He is also outspoken on civil liberties and civil rights, criticizing racial discrimination in the criminal justice system as well as advocating for privacy rights against mass surveillance policies such as the USA Patriot Act and the NSA surveillance programs.

Early life[edit]

Sanders was born on September 8, 1941, in Brooklyn, New York City.[7][8][9][10] His father, Elias Ben Yehuda Sanders,[11] was born on September 14, 1904, in Słopnice, Poland (then the Austro-Hungarian province of Galicia),[12][13] to a Jewish family; in 1921, the 17-year-old Elias immigrated to the United States, where he became a paint salesman.[12][14][15] His mother, Dorothy "Dora" Sanders (née Glassberg), was born in New York City on October 2, 1912,[16][17] to Jewish immigrant parents from Poland and Russia.[18][19]

Sanders became interested in politics at an early age: "A guy named Adolf Hitler won an election in 1932. He won an election, and 50 million people died as a result of that election in World War II, including 6 million Jews. So what I learned as a little kid is that politics is, in fact, very important."[20][21][22][nb 1] In the 1940s, many of Sanders' relatives in German-occupied Poland were killed in the Holocaust, including his father's half-brother, Bernie's uncle Abraham Schnützer, who was killed in 1942.[11][17][25][26][27]

Sanders lived on East 26th Street in Midwood, Brooklyn.[28] He attended elementary school at P.S. 197 in Brooklyn, where he won a borough championship on the basketball team.[29][30] He attended Hebrew school in the afternoons, and celebrated his bar mitzvah in 1954.[26] Sanders's older brother, Larry, said that during their childhood, the family never lacked for food or clothing, but major purchases, "like curtains or a rug," were difficult to afford.[31]

Sanders attended James Madison High School, also in Brooklyn, where he was captain of the track team and took third place in the New York City indoor one-mile race.[29] In high school, Sanders lost his first election, finishing last out of three candidates for the student body presidency. Not long after his high school graduation, his mother died at the age of 46;[17][26] his father died a few years later on August 4, 1962, at the age of 57.[13]

Sanders studied at Brooklyn College for a year in 1959–60[32] before transferring to the University of Chicago and graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in political science in 1964.[32] He has described himself as a mediocre college student because the classroom was "boring and irrelevant," while the community provided his most significant learning.[33]

Early career[edit]

See also: Electoral history of Bernie Sanders

Political activism[edit]

Main article: University of Chicago sit-ins

While at the University of Chicago, Sanders joined the Young People's Socialist League (the youth affiliate of the Socialist Party of America),[34] and was active in the Civil Rights Movement as a student organizer for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).[25][35] Under Sanders's chairmanship, the university chapter of CORE merged with the university chapter of SNCC.[36] In January 1962, Sanders led a rally at the University of Chicago administration building to protest university president George Wells Beadle's segregated campus housing policy. "We feel it is an intolerable situation when Negro and white students of the university cannot live together in university-owned apartments," Sanders said at the protest. Sanders and 32 other students then entered the building and camped outside the president's office, performing the first civil rights sit-in in Chicago history.[37][38] After weeks of sit-ins, Beadle and the university formed a commission to investigate discrimination.[39]Joan Mahoney, a member of the University of Chicago CORE chapter at the time and a fellow participant in the sit-ins, described Sanders in a 2016 interview as "...a swell guy, a nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn, but he wasn't terribly charismatic. One of his strengths, though, was his ability to work with a wide group of people, even those he didn't agree with".[40] Sanders once spent a day putting up fliers protesting against police brutality, only to eventually notice that a Chicago police car was shadowing him and taking them all down.[41]

Sanders attended the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech.[25][41][42] That summer, he was convicted of resisting arrest during a demonstration against segregation in Chicago's public schools and was fined $25.[43][44]

In addition to his civil rights activism during the 1960s and 1970s,[45] Sanders was active in several peace and antiwar movements. He was a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Student Peace Union while attending the University of Chicago. Sanders applied for conscientious objector status during the Vietnam War; his application was eventually turned down, by which point he was too old to be drafted. Although he opposed the war, Sanders never criticized those who fought and has been a strong supporter of veterans' benefits.[46][47] Sanders also worked on the reelection campaign of Leon Despres, a prominent Chicago alderman who was opposed to mayor Richard J. Daley's Democratic Party machine. During his student years he also read a variety of American and European political authors, from Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and John Dewey to Karl Marx and Erich Fromm.[48]

Professional history[edit]

After graduating from college, Sanders returned to New York City, where he initially worked at a variety of jobs, including Head Start teacher, psychiatric aide, and carpenter.[33] In 1968, Sanders moved to Vermont because he had been "captivated by rural life." After his arrival there he worked as a carpenter,[34] filmmaker, and writer[49] who created and sold "radical film strips" and other educational materials to schools.[50] He also wrote several articles for the alternative publication The Vermont Freeman.[51]

Liberty Union campaigns[edit]

Sanders began his electoral political career in 1971 as a member of the Liberty Union Party, which originated in the anti-war movement and the People's Party. He ran as the Liberty Union candidate for governor of Vermont in 1972 and 1976 and as a candidate for U.S. senator in 1972 and 1974.[52] In the 1974 senatorial race, Sanders finished third (5,901 votes; 4.1%), behind 33-year-old Chittenden County State's Attorney Patrick Leahy (D, VI; 70,629 votes; 49.4%) and two-term incumbent U.S. Representative Dick Mallary (R; 66,223 votes; 46.3%).[53][54]

The 1976 campaign proved to be the zenith of Liberty Union's influence, with Sanders collecting 11,000 votes for governor and the party. This forced the races for lieutenant governor and secretary of state to be decided by the state legislature when its vote total prevented either the Republican or Democratic candidates for those offices from garnering a majority of votes.[55] The campaign drained the finances and energy of the Liberty Union, however, and in October 1977, less than a year after the conclusion of the 1976 campaign, Sanders and the Liberty Union candidate for attorney general, Nancy Kaufman, announced their retirement from the party.[55]

Following his resignation from the Liberty Union Party in 1977, Sanders worked as a writer and the director of the nonprofit American People's Historical Society (APHS).[56] While with the APHS, he made a 30-minute documentary about American Socialist leader and presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs.[34][57]

Mayor of Burlington[edit]

In 1980, Sanders ran for mayor of Burlington, Vermont (pop. 38,000), at the suggestion of his close friend and political confidante Richard Sugarman, a professor of religion at the University of Vermont. He was mayor for eight years, from April 6, 1981, to April 4, 1989.[58]


The 39-year-old Sanders ran against incumbent Democratic mayor Gordon "Gordie" Paquette, a five-term mayor who had served as a member of the Burlington City Council for 13 years before that, building extensive community ties and a willingness to cooperate with Republican leaders in controlling appointments to various commissions. Republicans had found Paquette so unobjectionable that they failed to field a candidate in the March 1981 race against him, leaving Sanders as his principal opponent. Sanders's effort was further aided by the decision of the candidate of the Citizens Party, Greg Guma, to exit the race so as not to split the progressive vote. Two other candidates in the race, independents Richard Bove and Joe McGrath, proved to be essentially non-factors in the campaign, with the battle coming down to Paquette and Sanders.[55]

Sanders castigated the pro-development incumbent as an ally of prominent shopping center developer Antonio Pomerleau, while Paquette warned of ruin for Burlington if Sanders was elected. The Sanders campaign was bolstered by a wave of optimistic volunteers as well as by a series of endorsements from university professors, social welfare agencies, and the police union. The final result came as a shock to the local political establishment, with the maverick Sanders winning by just 10 votes.[55]

Sanders was reelected three times, defeating both Democratic and Republican candidates. He received 53% of the vote in 1983 and 55% in 1985.[59] In his final run for mayor in 1987, Sanders defeated Paul Lafayette, a Democrat endorsed by both major parties.[60] In 1986, Sanders unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Governor Madeleine Kunin (D) in her run for reelection. Running as an independent, Sanders finished third with 14.4% of the vote. Kunin won with 47%, followed by Lt. Governor Peter P. Smith (R) with 38%.

After serving four two-year terms, Sanders chose not to seek reelection in 1989. He lectured in political science at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government that year and at Hamilton College in 1991.[61]


During his mayoralty, Sanders called himself a socialist and was so described in the press.[62][63] During his first term, his supporters, including the first Citizens Party City Councilor Terry Bouricius, formed the Progressive Coalition, the forerunner of the Vermont Progressive Party.[64] The Progressives never held more than six seats on the 13-member city council, but they had enough to keep the council from overriding Sanders's vetoes. Under Sanders, Burlington became the first city in the country to fund community-trust housing.[65]

During the 1980s, Sanders was a consistent critic of U.S. foreign policy in Latin America.[66] In 1985, Burlington City Hall hosted a foreign policy speech by Noam Chomsky. In his introduction, Sanders praised Chomsky as "a very vocal and important voice in the wilderness of intellectual life in America" and said he was "delighted to welcome a person who I think we're all very proud of."[67][68]

Sanders's administration balanced the city budget and drew a minor league baseball team, the Vermont Reds, then the Double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, to Burlington.[17] Under his leadership, Burlington sued the local television cable franchise, winning reduced rates for customers.[17]

As mayor, Sanders led extensive downtown revitalization projects. One of his primary achievements was the improvement of Burlington's Lake Champlain waterfront.[17] In 1981, Sanders campaigned against the unpopular plans by Burlington developer Tony Pomerleau to convert the then-industrial[69] waterfront property owned by the Central Vermont Railway into expensive condominiums, hotels, and offices.[70] Sanders ran under the slogan "Burlington is not for sale" and successfully supported a plan that redeveloped the waterfront area into a mixed-use district featuring housing, parks, and public space.[70] Today, the waterfront area includes many parks and miles of public beach and bike paths, a boathouse, and a science center.[70]

Sanders hosted and produced a public-access television program, Bernie Speaks with the Community, from 1986 to 1988.[71][72] He collaborated with 30 Vermont musicians to record a folk album, We Shall Overcome, in 1987.[73][74]

In 1987, U.S. News & World Report ranked Sanders as one of America's best mayors.[75] As of 2013[update], Burlington was regarded as one of the most livable cities in the nation.[76][77]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

See also: Electoral history of Bernie Sanders

Sanders's 1990 victory made him the first independent candidate to be elected to Congress since Frazier Reams in 1950. It was noted by The Washington Post and others as the first election of a socialist to the United States House of Representatives in decades.[78][79] Sanders served in the House from 1991 until he became a senator in 2007.


In 1988, incumbent Republican Congressman Jim Jeffords decided to run for the U.S. Senate, vacating the House seat representing Vermont's at-large congressional district. Former Lieutenant GovernorPeter P. Smith (R) won the House election with a plurality, securing 41% of the vote. Sanders, who ran as an independent, placed second with 38% of the vote, while Democratic State Representative Paul N. Poirier placed third with 19% of the vote.[80] Two years later, Sanders ran for the seat again and defeated the incumbent Smith by a margin of 56% to 39%.[81]

Sanders was the first independent elected to the U.S. House of Representatives since Frazier Reams's election to represent Ohio 40 years earlier.[79] He served as a representative for 16 years, winning reelection by large margins except during the 1994 Republican Revolution, when he won by 3.3%, with 49.8% of the vote.[82]


During his first year in the House, Sanders often alienated allies and colleagues with his criticism of both political parties as working primarily on behalf of the wealthy. In 1991, Sanders co-founded the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a group of mostly liberal Democrats that Sanders chaired for its first eight years,[17] while still refusing to join the Democratic Party or caucus.[83]


In 1993, Sanders voted against the Brady Bill, which mandated federal background checks when buying guns and imposed a waiting period on firearm purchasers in the United States; the bill passed by a vote of 238–187.[84][85]

In 1994, Sanders voted in favor of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. Sanders said he voted for the bill "because it included the Violence Against Women Act and the ban on certain assault weapons". He was nevertheless extremely critical of the other parts of the bill.[86][87] Though he acknowledged that "clearly, there are some people in our society who are horribly violent, who are deeply sick and sociopathic, and clearly these people must be put behind bars in order to protect society from them", he maintained in his intervention before the House that the government's ill-thought policies played a large part in "dooming tens of millions of young people to a future of bitterness, misery, hopelessness, drugs, crime, and violence". In this same intervention, he argued that the repressive policies introduced by the bill were not addressing the causes of violence, stating that "we can create meaningful jobs, rebuilding our society, or we can build more jails".[88]

In 2005, he voted for the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.[89] The act's purpose was to prevent firearms manufacturers and dealers from being held liable for negligence when crimes have been committed with their products. In 2015, Sanders defended his vote, saying: "If somebody has a gun and it falls into the hands of a murderer and the murderer kills somebody with a gun, do you hold the gun manufacturer responsible? Not any more than you would hold a hammer company responsible if somebody beats somebody over the head with a hammer."[90]

Sanders voted against the resolutions authorizing the use of force against Iraq in 1991 and 2002, and opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He voted for the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists[91] that has been cited as the legal justification for controversial military actions since the September 11 attacks.[92] Sanders voted for a non-binding resolution expressing support for troops at the outset of the invasion of Iraq, but gave a floor speech criticizing the partisan nature of the vote and the George W. Bush administration's actions in the run-up to the war. Regarding the investigation of what turned out to be a leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity by a State Department official, Sanders stated: "The revelation that the President authorized the release of classified information in order to discredit an Iraq war critic should tell every member of Congress that the time is now for a serious investigation of how we got into the war in Iraq and why Congress can no longer act as a rubber stamp for the President."[93]

On November 2, 2005, Sanders voted against the Online Freedom of Speech Act, which would have exempted the Internet from the campaign finance restrictions of the McCain–Feingold Bill.[94]

Positions on legislation[edit]

Sanders was a consistent critic of the Patriot Act.[95] As a member of Congress, he voted against the original Patriot Act legislation.[96] After its 357-to-66 passage in the House, Sanders sponsored and voted for several subsequent amendments and acts attempting to curtail its effects,[97] and voted against each re-authorization.[98] In June 2005, Sanders proposed an amendment to limit Patriot Act provisions that allow the government to obtain individuals' library and book-buying records. The amendment passed the House by a bipartisan majority, but was removed on November 4 of that year in House–Senate negotiations and never became law.[99]

In March 2006, after a series of resolutions passed in various Vermont towns calling for him to bring articles of impeachment against George W. Bush, Sanders stated that it would be "impractical to talk about impeachment" with Republicans in control of the House and Senate.[100] Still, Sanders made no secret of his opposition to the Bush Administration, which he regularly criticized for its cuts to social programs.[101][102][103]

Sanders was a vocal critic of Federal Reserve ChairAlan Greenspan; in June 2003, during a question-and-answer discussion with the then-Chairman, Sanders told Greenspan that he was concerned that Greenspan was "way out of touch" and "that you see your major function in your position as the need to represent the wealthy and large corporations".[104][105] In October 2008, after Sanders had been elected to the Senate, Greenspan admitted to Congress that his economic ideology regarding risky mortgage loans was flawed.[106][107] In 1998, Sanders voted and advocated against rolling back the Glass–Steagall Legislation provisions that kept investment banks and commercial banks separate entities.[108]

U.S. Senate[edit]


Main articles: United States Senate election in Vermont, 2006 and United States Senate election in Vermont, 2012

Sanders entered the race for the U.S. Senate on April 21, 2005, after Senator Jim Jeffords announced that he would not seek a fourth term. Chuck Schumer, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, endorsed Sanders, a critical move as it meant that no Democrat running against Sanders could expect to receive financial help from the party. Sanders was also endorsed by Senate Minority LeaderHarry Reid of Nevada and Democratic National Committee chairman and former Vermont governor Howard Dean. Dean said in May 2005 that he considered Sanders an ally who "votes with the Democrats 98 percent of the time."[109] Then-Senator Barack Obama also campaigned for Sanders in Vermont in March 2006.[110] Sanders entered into an agreement with the Democratic Party, much as he had as a congressman, to be listed in their primary but to decline the nomination should he win, which he did.[111][112]

In the most expensive political campaign in Vermont's history,[113] Sanders defeated businessman Rich Tarrant by an approximately 2-to-1 margin. Many national media outlets projected Sanders as the winner just after the polls closed, before any returns came in. He was reelected in 2012 with 71% of the vote.[114]

Sanders was only the third senator from Vermont to caucus with the Democrats, after Jeffords and Leahy. His caucusing with the Democrats gave them a 51–49 majority in the Senate during the 110th Congress in 2007–08. The Democrats needed 51 seats to control the Senate because Vice PresidentDick Cheney would have broken any tie in favor of the Republicans.[115]


Sanders's filibuster against the Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010, which extended the Bush tax cuts, received national news coverage. He used the filibuster to argue that this legislation would favor the wealthiest Americans.[citation needed]

As an independent, Sanders worked out a deal with the Senate Democratic leadership in which he agreed to vote with the Democrats on all procedural matters, except with permission from Democratic WhipDick Durbin (a request that is rarely made or granted). In return, he was allowed to keep his seniority and received the committee seats that would have been available to him as a Democrat; in 2013–14, he was chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs (during the Veterans Health Administration scandal).[116][117] Sanders was free to vote as he pleased on policy matters, but almost always voted with the Democrats.[citation needed]

Sanders became the ranking minority member on the Senate Budget Committee in January 2015; he had previously been chair of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee for two years. Since January 2017, he has been Chair of the Senate Democratic Outreach Committee. Sanders's campaign against Hillary Clinton for the party's 2016 U.S. presidential nomination raised more money in small, individual contributions than any other in American history, and helped him rise to international recognition.[citation needed]

Positions on tax and finance legislation[edit]

On September 24, 2008, Sanders posted an open letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson decrying the initial bank bailout proposal; it drew more than 8,000 citizen cosigners in 24 hours.[118] On January 26, 2009, Sanders and Democrats Robert Byrd, Russ Feingold, and Tom Harkin were the sole majority members to vote against confirming Timothy Geithner as United States Secretary of the Treasury.[119]

On December 10, 2010, Sanders delivered an ​8 12-hour speech against the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010, the proposed extension of the Bush-era tax rates that eventually became law, saying "Enough is enough! ... How many homes can you own?"[120][121][122] In response to the speech, hundreds of people signed online petitions urging Sanders to run in the 2012 presidential election, and pollsters began measuring his support in key primary states.[123]Progressive activists such as Rabbi Michael Lerner and economist David Korten publicly voiced their support for a prospective Sanders run against President Barack Obama.[123] Sanders's speech was published in February 2011 by Nation Books as The Speech: A Historic Filibuster on Corporate Greed and the Decline of Our Middle Class, with authorial proceeds going to Vermont nonprofit charitable organizations.[124]

Supreme Court[edit]

On March 17, 2016, Sanders said he would support Merrick Garland's nomination to the Supreme Court, though he added, "there are some more progressive judges out there."[125]

Sanders opposed Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the Court, saying that Gorsuch had "refused to answer legitimate questions."[126] Sanders also objected to the possibility of Senate Republicans using the nuclear option to "choke off debate and ram the nomination through the Senate."[126]

Senate Budget Committee[edit]

In January 2015, Sanders became the ranking minority member of the Senate Budget Committee.[117] He appointed economics professor Stephanie Kelton, a modern monetary theory scholar and self-described "deficit owl", as the chief economic adviser for the committee's Democratic minority[127] and presented a report aimed at helping "rebuild the disappearing middle class", which included proposals to raise the minimum wage, boost infrastructure spending, and increase Social Security payments.[128]

Committee assignments[edit]

According to his senate website, Sanders's committee assignments during 2016 were as follows:[129]

Sanders as a senior in high school, 1959
Congressman Sanders in 1991
Sanders meeting with students at Milton High School in Milton, Vermont, 2004
Sanders spoke for over eight hours in his December 2010 filibuster.

For other people with the same name, see Chris Murphy (disambiguation).

Chris Murphy
United States Senator
from Connecticut


Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Serving with Richard Blumenthal
Preceded byJoe Lieberman
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Connecticut's 5th district
In office
January 3, 2007 – January 3, 2013
Preceded byNancy Johnson
Succeeded byElizabeth Esty
Member of the Connecticut Senate
from the 16th district
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2007
Preceded bySteve Somma
Succeeded bySam Caligiuri
Member of the Connecticut House of Representatives
from the 81st district
In office
January 3, 1999 – January 3, 2003
Preceded byAngelo Fusco
Succeeded byBruce Zalaski
Personal details
BornChristopher Scott Murphy
(1973-08-03) August 3, 1973 (age 44)
White Plains, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Cathy Holahan (m. 2007)
EducationWilliams College(BA)
University of Connecticut, Hartford(JD)
WebsiteSenate website

Christopher Scott Murphy (born August 3, 1973) is an American politician serving as the juniorUnited States Senator from Connecticut since 2013. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served in the United States House of Representatives, representing Connecticut's 5th congressional district from 2007 to 2013. Before being elected to Congress, Murphy was a member of both chambers of the Connecticut General Assembly, serving two terms each in the Connecticut House of Representatives (1999–2003) and the Connecticut Senate (2003–07).

Murphy ran for the U.S. Senate in 2012 after long-time incumbent Joe Lieberman announced in January 2011 that he would retire from politics rather than seeking a fifth term in office. He defeated former Connecticut secretary of state Susan Bysiewicz in the Democratic primary, and subsequently defeated Republican candidate Linda McMahon for the open seat in the general election. Aged 39 at the time, Murphy was the youngest Senator of the 113th Congress. Arkansas' Tom Cotton, elected at age 37, later surpassed Murphy as the youngest incumbent Senator, two years later.

Early life, education, and early career[edit]

Murphy was born on August 3, 1973, in White Plains, New York, the son of Catherine A. (née Lewczyk) and Scott L. Murphy.[1] He is of Irish and Polish descent.[2] Murphy's father is a corporate litigator who served as the managing partner of Shipman & Goodwin, a Hartford law firm, and his mother is a retired ESL teacher from the Hanmer Elementary School in Wethersfield, Connecticut. Murphy has two younger siblings, a sister, Susannah, and a brother, Ben.[3]

Murphy is a graduate of Wethersfield High School. He received his B.A. degree from his father's alma mater, Williams College, and his J.D. degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law. As an undergraduate exchange student, Murphy also studied at the University of Oxford, where he was a member of Exeter College.[4] On May 19, 2013, Murphy received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the University of New Haven.[5]

In 1996, Murphy was campaign manager for Charlotte Koskoff's unsuccessful campaign for the House against Nancy Johnson; a decade later, Murphy himself would unseat Johnson. From 1997 to 1998, Murphy worked for Connecticut State Senate Majority Leader George Jepsen. Murphy was first elected to office in 1997, when he won a seat on the Planning and Zoning Commission in Southington.[6]

Connecticut Legislature[edit]

House of Representatives[edit]


In 1998, at age 25, Murphy challenged 14-year incumbent Republican State Representative Angelo Fusco. Murphy was endorsed by the six largest labor unions in the state. The CT Employees Independent Union endorsed Murphy, the first time the union endorsed Fusco's opponent.[7] Fusco described himself as a union member, an environmentalist, and a moderate.[8] Murphy defeated Fusco 55%-45%.[9] In 2000, he won re-election to a second term, defeating Barbara Morelli 68%-32%.[10]


As early as March 1999, he criticized U.S. Congresswoman Nancy Johnson's vote for impeaching President Bill Clinton.[11] In 2001, he was a co-sponsor of a bill to eliminate child poverty.[12] He proposed legislation that would give free tuition to students of the state's community-technical colleges.[13] He proposed legislation that would ban smoking in state colleges and universities.[14] He co-sponsored a bill that would create an earned income tax credit.[15]

He was a supporter of same-sex marriage as early as 2002.[16] During his tenure, he served on the Judiciary Committee.[17]



After two terms, Murphy decided to run for a seat in the Connecticut State Senate at the age of 29. The open 16th district had been held by a Republican for more than a decade. He defeated Republican State Representative Ann Dandrow, 53%-47%.[18] In 2004, he won re-election to a second term, defeating Republican Christopher O'Brien, 60%-37%.[19]


In 2003, he joined the Clean Car Alliance and supported California-like environmental standards on auto manufacturers.[20]

In 2004, Murphy supported a bill that would ban smoking in all restaurants and bars.[21][22]

In 2005, Murphy authored legislation establishing the new Office of Child Protection, to "better coordinate advocacy for abused and neglected children".[23] Murphy also wrote Public Act 05-149, an act permitting stem-cell research while prohibiting human cloning.[24][25]

The act, signed into law by Governor Jodi Rell, made Connecticut the third state in the nation to permit taxpayer-subsidized stem-cell research.[26]

During his tenure in the State Senate, Murphy was one of the first ten co-sponsors of a civil union bill that passed the General Assembly in 2005. On his Senate campaign website, Murphy summarized his stance, "Let me be clear and simple: LGBT rights are human rights. Marriage equality and nondiscrimination in the military, workplace, classroom and healthcare system, based on real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity, are civil rights that must be protected under law."[27] During his tenure he served as Chairman of the Public Health Committee.[28]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]


Murphy chose not to run for re-election to the State Senate, targeting instead the U.S. House seat held by 12-term incumbent Republican Nancy Johnson. In order to challenge Johnson, Murphy moved from Southington to Cheshire.[29] Murphy was elected in 2006 with 56% of the vote, defeating Johnson by a margin of about 22,000 votes; among incumbents, only John Hostettler lost by a larger margin that year.

He carried 35 of the district's 41 cities and towns, including several that had reliably supported Johnson for decades. He defeated Johnson by a significant margin in her hometown of New Britain, which she had represented for over 30 years in both the state senate and in Congress. He was re-elected again in 2008 and 2010, with 60% and 54% of the vote, respectively.[citation needed]


Murphy has received high scores from liberal groups such as Americans for Democratic Action, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and various labor unions; and low scores from conservative groups as the Club for Growth, American Conservative Union, and FreedomWorks.[30]

In August 2008, Murphy sent a letter to House Majority LeaderSteny Hoyer expressing support for increased oil drilling as part of a bipartisan energy bill.[31]

Murphy supports reform of federal supportive housing programs, which assist low-income people with severe disabilities. In 2008, the House of Representatives passed the "Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act", which Murphy authored to modernize and streamline Section 811, which governs federal supportive housing grants.[32]

Murphy has called for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp;[33] however, in February 2011, Murphy voted to extend provisions of the Patriot Act.[34]

Health care reform

In 2009, Murphy helped draft HR 3200, the House health-care reform bill. Murphy defended his role in supporting the bill at a contentious town hall meeting in Simsbury in August 2009.[35][36]

A longtime supporter of health insurance reform, Murphy is a strong proponent of the public option, which entails the creation of an independent, government-sponsored health insurance plan to compete with private companies. Murphy has argued that such a plan would not require government financing and would help to introduce competition into monopolized health insurance markets and help bring down costs.[37]

When singer Justin Bieber said in an interview with Rolling Stone that he admired the health care system in his native Canada, Murphy sent a tweet to The Huffington Post expressing approval of Bieber's comments. Shortly thereafter Murphy noticed that Bieber, in the same interview, spoke out against the practice of abortion, so Murphy sent out another tweet to distance himself from Bieber on that issue.[38]

Ethics reform

In May 2007, Murphy organized a group of freshmen House members to support the creation of an independent, non-partisan ethics panel to review complaints filed against members of the U.S. House of Representatives.[39] He has been credited with helping to shape the independent Office of Congressional Ethics, which was passed into law by the House in March 2008.[40]

Murphy sponsored a bill that would subject Supreme Court Justices to the same ethical code that applies to other federal judges, and suggested in 2011 the possibility of an investigation to decide whether Justice Clarence Thomas had committed ethical violations that would justify removing him from office. The matter in question was Thomas's connection to Harlan Crow[41] and other supporters of the Republican Party.[42] Murphy circulated a draft letter to other members of Congress asking the House Judiciary Committee leadership to hold a hearing on the Supreme Court Transparency and Disclosure Act, which would end the Supreme Court's immunity to judicial ethics laws.[43]

Contractors operating overseas

As a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Murphy was highly critical of for-profit government contractors operating in Iraq, which functioned with little government oversight and scrutiny. He introduced and successfully passed into law the "Government Funding Transparency Act of 2008" which required private companies that do the majority of their businesses with the federal government to publicly disclose their top executives' salaries.[44]

Local issues

Two home invasions occurred in Murphy's district in 2007 and 2008; the latter in Cheshire being especially brutal, with the rape and murder of a mother and her two young daughters. In response, Murphy proposed making home invasion a federal crime.[45]

Murphy has been a proponent of the proposed New Haven-Hartford-Springfield Commuter Rail Line, an effort to use existing railroad tracks owned by Amtrak to provide daily commuter service on par with Southwestern Connecticut's Metro-North service into New York. In 2008, Murphy successfully added an amendment to rail legislation making it easier for Amtrak and the state of Connecticut to cooperate on the rail project.[46]

Murphy proposed reforms of the nation's 'missing-persons' databases, introducing "Billy's Law" in 2009 to improve coordination of law-enforcement efforts to locate missing persons. The legislation was named in honor of Billy Smolinski, Jr., a one-time resident of Murphy's district who disappeared in 2004.[47]

Committee assignments[edit]

U.S. Senate[edit]

2012 election[edit]

Main article: United States Senate election in Connecticut, 2012

Murphy announced on January 20, 2011, that he would run for the Senate seat held by Joe Lieberman, who was retiring in the face of a very low approval rate.[48] It was announced in mid-July that a group spearheaded by a state Capitol lobbyist was forming a Super PAC for his campaign, hoping to raise $1 million to combat a possible opponent.[49]

Murphy defeated former Connecticut Secretary of StateSusan Bysiewicz in the Democratic primary and defeated Republican candidate Linda McMahon in the general election.[50][51] After McMahon's negative ads left Murphy "on the defensive virtually nonstop" and struggling to respond, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sent additional staff and money to Murphy to help with his campaign, saying they are "100 percent behind [him]."[52] Among the issues raised was Chase Home Finance sued for foreclosure against Murphy, whose campaign initially responded by claiming that Murphy had missed "a couple of mortgage payments." Murphy claimed that he did not know he was in default until legal proceedings started. Murphy received a loan at the rate of 4.99% from Webster Bank in 2008 to consolidate his previous mortgages.[53] At the time of this loan, Murphy was serving on the House Financial Services Committee. Murphy's opponent McMahon accused him of receiving what she called "special interest loans," and called on Murphy to release his financial records. Bank officials and outside experts claim there was nothing improper about the loans made to Murphy.[53][54][55]

On November 6, Murphy defeated McMahon with 55% of the vote, winning every county except Litchfield County. At the time, it was the most expensive political race in Connecticut history,[56] and one of the most expensive Senate races in 2012.[57]


Murphy took office as the junior United States Senator for Connecticut on January 3, 2013. In the Senate, Murphy has worked on issues funding for transportation and infrastructure, the preservation of Long Island Sound, growing small farms and promoting Connecticut manufacturing.

In 2016, Murphy walked 126 miles across the state of Connecticut, listening to constituents and holding daily town hall meetings.[58] Murphy repeated the walk in 2017, covering 106 miles and holding five town hall meetings.[59]

Health care[edit]

Murphy has been a leading supporter of the Affordable Care Act in the Senate and has opposed Republican attempts to repeal the law, consistently speaking on the floor about the positive impact it has had on his constituents.[60]

Murphy called the American Health Care Act of 2017 “an intellectual and moral dumpster fire,” that will cause 24 million Americans to lose their health care coverage.[61]

Economic issues[edit]

Murphy has introduced two pieces of legislation, the American Jobs Matter Act[62] and the 21st Century Buy American Act[63] to close loopholes in the existing Buy American laws and encourage the U.S. government to purchase American-made goods.

Mental Health[edit]

On August 5, 2015, Murphy introduced the bipartisan Mental Health Reform Act of 2015 with Republican Senator Bill Cassidy from Louisiana. The legislation, aimed at overhauling the mental health system, would build treatment capacity, promote integrated care models, expand the mental health workforce and encourage the enforcement of existing mental health parity laws.[64]

The bill was informed by listening sessions that Senator Murphy conducted across the state of Connecticut.[65] The bill was widely supported by the mental health community, with organizations including the American Psychiatric Association,[66] Mental Health America[67] and the National Council for Behavioral Health[68] applauding its introduction.[citation needed]

On March 16, 2016, the Mental Health Reform Act was pass unanimously by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. On December 7, 2016, the Senate passed Mental Health Reform as a part of the 21st Century Cures Act. The bill also provided $1 billion in funding to address the opioid crisis and funding for NIH Cancer Moonshot initiative. The bill was signed into law by President Obama on December 13, 2016.[69]

Gun violence[edit]

Further information: Senator Murphy gun control filibuster

Murphy has a 100% rating with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.[70]

Following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Murphy became a leading voice in the movement to prevent gun violence, supporting numerous policies including universal background checks and ending the ban on gun violence research at the CDC.[71] Murphy supported the bipartisan Manchin-Toomey background checks proposal, which would have strengthened and expanded the existing background check system and established a National Commission on Mass Violence to study in-depth all the causes of mass violence.[72]

When the proposal failed to meet the 60 vote threshold for advancement, Murphy stated, “This is a day when the Republican filibuster stood in the way of 90% of Americans.”[73]

In his first month in office, he criticized the National Rifle Association and Apple Inc. for a video game involving shooting with guns that was labeled appropriate for children as young as four.[74]

On June 24, 2015, Murphy stated that: "Since Sandy Hook there has been a school shooting, on average, every week"; The Washington Post described this statement as misleading.[75] On June 15–16, 2016, Murphy staged a filibuster regarding gun control following the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, the deadliest mass shooting in US history prior to the mass shooting in Las Vegas in 2017. The filibuster entered the list of the top 10 longest filibusters in US history.[citation needed]

In the wake of the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, Murphy offered thoughts and prayers to victims and stated "This phenomenon of near constant mass shootings happens only in America – nowhere else." He blamed Congress for being "complicit" in the shooting.[76]

After the 2017 Las Vegas Strip shooting, Murphy reinforced his criticism of gun laws.[77]

Following the Sutherland Springs church shooting Murphy and fellow U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the bipartisan Fix NICS Act to ensure criminal records are submitted to the federal background check system.[78]

Following the shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018,[79] Murphy made an impassioned call for action in the Senate stating that "this happens nowhere else other than the United States of America, this epidemic of mass slaughter, this scourge of school shooting after school shooting. It only happens here not because of coincidence, not because of bad luck, but as a consequence of our inaction. We are responsible for a level of mass atrocity that happens in this country with zero parallel anywhere else. As a parent it scares me to death that this body doesn't take seriously the safety of my children, and it seems like a lot of parents in South Florida will be asking the same question today. We pray for families, for the victims. We hope for the best."[80]

Foreign policy[edit]

Murphy is one of the first members of Congress to come out in opposition to US support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, which was launched in 2015.[81] In a speech on January 29, 2016, he recommended that the US stop supporting this military campaign and suspend military sales to Saudi Arabia until the US receives assurances that the war will not distract from Saudi efforts against al-Quaida and ISIS and Saudi Arabia lessens its worldwide support of Wahhabism.[82] Murphy is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the ranking Democratic member of the subcommittee on the Middle East and Counter-terrorism.[83] In the edition of June 8, 2015 of Foreign Affairs, Murphy co-authored "Principles for a Progressive Foreign Policy," proposing a framework for a Democratic foreign policy strategy.[84]

In November 2017, Murphy accused the United States of complicity in the war crimes committed in Yemen by the Saudi-led military coalition and in Yemen's humanitarian crisis, saying: "Thousands and thousands inside Yemen today are dying. ... This horror is caused in part by our decision to facilitate a bombing campaign that is murdering children and to endorse a Saudi strategy inside Yemen that is deliberately using disease and starvation and the withdrawal of humanitarian support as a tactic."[85]

In March 2016, Murphy authored the bipartisan bill the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act, along with Republican Senator Rob Portman.[86] Congressman Adam Kinzinger introduced the U.S. House version of the bill.[87] After the 2016 U.S. presidential election, worries grew that Russian propaganda spread and organized by the Russian government swayed the outcome of the election, and representatives in the U.S. Congress took action to safeguard the National security of the United States by advancing legislation to monitor incoming propaganda from external threats.[86][88] On November 30, 2016, legislators approved a measure within the National Defense Authorization Act to ask the U.S. State Department to take action against foreign propaganda through an interagency panel.[86][88] The legislation authorized funding of $160 million over a two-year-period.[86] The initiative was developed through the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act.[86]


Murphy has a "B" rating from NORML for his voting history regarding cannabis-related causes. In 2016, he voted in favor of the Daines/Merkley Amendment to enable Veterans Administration doctor's to discuss the benefits of medical marijuana with their patients. He also voted in favor of Mikulski Medical Marijuana Amendment, which protects users in states with medical marijuana laws from federal interference.[89]

Committee assignments[edit]

  • United States Senate Committee on Appropriations
    • United States Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Legislative Branch (Ranking Member)
    • United States Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies
    • United States Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
    • United States Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies
    • United States Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
  • Committee on Foreign Relations
  • Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
  • Joint Economic Committee


In May 2013, Murphy was awarded[clarification needed] $60 million of a total $75 million to house 55 of the 330 homeless veterans living in Connecticut.[90]

Personal life[edit]

Chris Murphy and his wife Catherine (née Holahan) married in August 2007. They have two sons, Owen and Rider.[91] Raised as an Congregationalist, Murphy identifies as "Protestant/unaffiliated" but acknowledged he was "not a regular churchgoer these days, in part, because of kids. In part because of a busy schedule."[92]

Electoral history[edit]

1998Connecticut House of RepresentativesConnecticut's 81st DistrictChris Murphy55%Angelo Fusco45%
2000Connecticut House of RepresentativesConnecticut's 81st DistrictChris Murphy68%Barbara Morelli32%
2002Connecticut State SenateConnecticut's 16th DistrictChris Murphy53%Ann Dandrow47%
2006U.S. House of RepresentativesConnecticut's 5th DistrictChris Murphy56%Nancy L. Johnson (inc.)43%
2008U.S. House of RepresentativesConnecticut's 5th DistrictChris Murphy (inc.)59%David Cappiello39%
2010U.S. House of RepresentativesConnecticut's 5th DistrictChris Murphy (inc.)54%Sam S. F. Caligiuri45%
2012U.S. SenateConnecticut Class 1Chris Murphy55%Linda McMahon43%

Note: In all elections to the House, Murphy also ran on the line of the Connecticut Working Families Party, on a fusion ticket.


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Murphy campaigning for presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008.

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