|United States Senator
January 3, 1985
Serving with Chuck Grassley
|Preceded by||Roger Jepsen|
|Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions|
September 9, 2009
|Preceded by||Ted Kennedy|
|Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry|
January 4, 2007 – September 9, 2009
|Preceded by||Saxby Chambliss|
|Succeeded by||Blanche Lincoln|
June 6, 2001 – January 3, 2003
|Preceded by||Richard Lugar|
|Succeeded by||Thad Cochran|
January 3 – January 20, 2001
|Preceded by||Richard Lugar|
|Succeeded by||Richard Lugar|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 5th district
January 3, 1975 – January 3, 1985
|Preceded by||William J. Scherle|
|Succeeded by||Jim Ross Lightfoot|
|Born||Thomas Richard Harkin
November 19, 1939
|Children||Amy Harkin Goodrich
|Alma mater||Iowa State University(B.A.)
|Service/branch||United States Navy/United States Navy Reserve|
|Years of service||1962–1989|
|Unit||Naval Air Facility Atsugi/Guantanamo Bay/Reserves|
Thomas Richard "Tom" Harkin (born November 19, 1939) is the current junior United States Senator from Iowa serving since 1985, and a member of the Democratic Party. He previously served in the United States House of Representatives (1975–1985).
Born in Cumming, Iowa, Harkin graduated from Iowa State University and The Catholic University of America's Columbus School of Law. He served in the United States Navy as an active-duty jet pilot from 1962 to 1967. After serving as a congressional aide for several years he made two runs for the U.S. House of Representatives, losing in 1972 but winning in 1974. He went on to serve five terms in the House.
Harkin won a race for U.S. Senate in 1984 by a wide margin. He was an early frontrunner for his party's presidential nomination in 1992, but dropped out in support of eventual winner Bill Clinton. Now serving his fifth term, Harkin is chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. He is ranked as the most senior junior senator, as well as the 7th most senior Senator overall.
On January 26, 2013, he announced his intentions to retire from the Senate after completing his fifth term in 2015.
Early life, education, and early political career
Harkin was born in Cumming, Iowa. His father, Patrick Francis Harkin, an Irish American, was a coal miner, and his mother, Frances Valentine (née Berčič), was a Slovene immigrant who died when he was ten. He still maintains his childhood house, where he and his five siblings were raised without hot running water or a furnace. He attended Dowling Catholic High School which is currently located in West Des Moines, Iowa. Harkin attended Iowa State University on a Navy R.O.T.C. scholarship and was a member of Delta Sigma Phi fraternity. He graduated with a degree in government and economics in 1962, and served in the United States Navy as an active-duty jet pilot from 1962 to 1967. Harkin was stationed at Naval Air Facility Atsugi in Japan, where he ferried aircraft to and from the airbase that had been damaged in the Vietnam War and in operational and training accidents. He was also stationed for a time at Guantanamo Bay, where he flew missions in support of U-2 planes reconnoitering Cuba. After leaving active duty in 1967, he spent three years in the Ready Reserves, and transitioned into the Naval Reserves in 1970. He retired in 1989 with the rank of commander.
In 1969, Harkin moved to Washington, D.C., and began work as an aide to Democratic U.S. Congressman Neal Smith. During his work for Smith, he accompanied a congressional delegation that went to South Vietnam in 1970. Harkin published photographs he took during the trip and a detailed account of the "tiger cages" at Con Son Island prison in Life Magazine on July 17, 1970. The account exposed shocking, inhumane conditions and treatment to which prisoners were subjected. He received his Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from The Catholic University of America's Columbus School of Law in 1972.
U.S. House of Representatives
In 1972, the same year that he graduated from law school, Harkin returned to Iowa and immediately ran against an incumbent Republican Congressman, William J. Scherle. Scherle represented the southwestern portion of Iowa, which (with one brief exception) had not elected a Democrat to Congress since the end of the Great Depression. While winning a higher percentage of votes than any of Scherle's previous opponents, Harkin nevertheless lost the race.
After his 1972 defeat, Harkin practiced law in Ames before seeking a rematch against Scherle in 1974. In what was generally a bad year for Republicans due to the Watergate scandal, Harkin defeated Scherle by only 3,500 votes. He was re-elected four more times from Iowa's 5th congressional district without serious difficulty.
In 1984, Harkin won the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate and defeated freshman Republican Roger Jepsen by a surprisingly wide 11-point margin. He was re-elected in 1990, 1996, 2002, and 2008.
Harkin has served in the Senate longer than any Democrat in Iowa's history, and only Neal Smith has served in Congress longer among Iowa Democrats.
Harkin has been influential in increasing research funding for alternative medicine. He was instrumental in the creation of the U.S. Office of Alternative Medicine in 1992, which later became the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. His efforts and the Center's results, however, have been criticized.
While running for his Senate seat in 1984, and again while running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1992, Harkin has faced criticism for claiming that he had flown combat missions over North Vietnam. In a 1979 round table discussion with other Congressional military veterans, Harkin said of his service as a Navy pilot: "One year was in Vietnam. I was flying F-4s and F-8s on combat air patrols and photo-reconnaissance support missions". These comments were later published in a 1981 book by David Broder. After subsequent inquiries by Barry Goldwater and The Wall Street Journal, Harkin clarified that he had been stationed in Japan and sometimes flew recently repaired aircraft on test missions over Vietnam. His service flying F-4s and F-8s was later, while he was stationed at U.S. Naval Base Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Civil Air Patrol
Senator Harkin has dedicated 27 years of service to the Civil Air Patrol, the United States Air Force Auxiliary. He is currently the commander of the Congressional Squadron, a unique unit that gives active and retired members of Congress and congressional staff the opportunity to participate in CAP.
On 28 February 2011, Harkin introduced Senate Bill 418, which calls for recognition of Civil Air Patrol members who served during World War II. The bill would recognize WWII CAP "sub-chasers" with a single Congressional Gold Medal for their efforts in spotting several German U-boats and sinking two.
Today, Sen. Harkin is one of the more vocal supporters of the Civil Air Patrol. "CAP is getting into some interesting missions. The Deepwater Horizon disaster showed that volunteers could step up to support federal agencies and states at the same time. It was a good demonstration of CAP's ability to perform its mission during a national emergency."
Harkin introduced the Americans with Disabilities Act into the Senate. Harkin delivered part of a speech in sign language so his deaf brother could understand.
Harkin has taken issue with the Supreme Court's handling of a number of cases related to ADA, concerned that the judgements severely limited the scope of the legislation's effectiveness:
"Together, these cases, as handled by the nation's highest court, have created a supreme absurdity: The more successful a person is at coping with a disability, the more likely it is for a court to find that he or she is no longer sufficiently disabled to be protected by the ADA. If that is the ruling, then these individuals may find that their requests for reasonable accommodations at work can be denied. Or that they can be fired—without recourse."
In order to address these issues Harkin proposed the ADA Amendments Act, which in his words "will restore the proper balance and application of the ADA by clarifying and broadening the definition of disability, while increasing eligibility for ADA protections."
Harkin has also been a vocal critic of what he describes as the biased nature of the Medicaid program:
"The current Medicaid system is unacceptably biased in favor of institutional care. Two-thirds of Medicaid long-term care dollars are spent on institutional services, with only one-third going to community-based care. It's time to rebalance the system."
During his political career, Harkin has generally supported the Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade, which decided that a right to privacy under the due process clause in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution extends to a woman's decision to have an abortion. He has opposed most efforts to place legal restrictions on Roe v. Wade, including voting against a ban on late term abortion, while supporting contraception and education to reduce teen pregnancy. However, he is apparently attempting to get some STD-awareness programs de-funded. As of 2003[update], Harkin received a 100 percent rating from NARAL, the pro-choice advocacy organization. He was very critical of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which places limits on taxpayer-funded abortions in the context of the November 2009 Affordable Health Care for America Act.
Harkin has come out in favor of embryonic stem cell research. In July 2006, Harkin made a speech from the Senate floor in response to George W. Bush's veto of the embryonic stem cell research federal funding bill.
In May 2009, Harkin announced he opposed any effort to overturn an Iowa Supreme Court decision in April 2009 that legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa. "We all grow as we get older; we learn things, we become more sensitive to people and people's lives," said Harkin. "The more I've looked at that, I've grown to think differently about how we should live. I guess I've got to the point of live and let live."
Harkin has also been active in combating the worst forms of child labor. The Trade Development Act of 2000 "contains important child labor protections authored by Senator Harkin." After reports of child trafficking and child slavery associated with cocoa plantations in West Africa surfaced in the media, Harkin, along with U.S. Representative Eliot Engel and with the support of U.S. Senator Herbert Kohl, sponsored a voluntary agreement by major players in the cocoa and chocolate industry signed in 2001 and often referred to as the Harkin-Engel Protocol. The purpose of this "Protocol for the growing and processing of cocoa beans and their derivative products" was to bring practices in West Africa into line with Convention 182 of the International Labor Organization concerning the prohibition and immediate action for the elimination of the worst forms of child labor. (Some difficulties in meeting the deadlines set in this Protocol have been encountered.) Harkin has worked in other ways to combat the import of child labor-made products.
Harkin believes America faces a retirement crisis, saying "Pensions have gone by the wayside. Savings are down as people are just scraping by, so the only thing left is Social Security."
Harkin supported President Barack Obama's health reform legislation; he voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in December 2009, and he voted for the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.
Harkin is also a staunch supporter of Israel. He is a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, which appropriates about $2 billion annually for military financing for Israel. In the Senate, he is the second-largest career recipient of pro-Israel Political Action Committee (PAC) contributions.
In May 2006 Harkin voted in favor of Senate Bill 2611, also known as the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act. Among the bill's many provisions, it would increase the number of H1B visas, increase security along the southern United States border with Mexico, allow long-time illegal immigrants to gain citizenship with some restrictions, and increase the number of guest workers over and above those already present in the U.S. through a new "blue card" visa program.The bill ultimately failed to pass,
- Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
- Committee on Appropriations
- Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
- Subcommittee on Defense
- Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development
- Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Chairman)
- Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
- Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies
- Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (Chairman)
- As Chair of the full committee, Harkin may serve as an ex officio member of all subcommittees.
- Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
1992 presidential election
Harkin ran for President in 1992 as a populist with labor union support. He criticized George H. W. Bush for being out of touch with working class Americans. Harkin was an early favorite in a small field of five candidates. Harkin won the Iowa caucus and those in Idaho and Minnesota (with help from Senator Paul Wellstone), but he ran poorly in New Hampshire and other primaries and ultimately lost the Democratic Party nomination to Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas. Harkin was the first Democratic primary contender to drop out and throw his support behind Clinton — a favor that led to a close relationship throughout the Clinton presidency.
- Senator Paul Wellstone (D-Minnesota)
- Commissioner of Agriculture Jim Hightower (D-Texas)
- Representative Lane Evans (D-Illinois)
Vice presidential speculation
Harkin was on the short list of running mates for Bill Clinton, alongside Senator Al Gore, Congressman Lee H. Hamilton, Senators Bob Graham, Bob Kerrey, and Harris Wofford. Gore was ultimately chosen. In 2000, he was frequently mentioned as a candidate Gore was considering for his running-mate, alongside House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, Senators Bob Graham, Evan Bayh, John Kerry, and John Edwards. Gore ultimately selected Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.
Tom Harkin electoral history
Iowa's 5th congressional district, 1972
Iowa's 5th congressional district, 1974
Iowa's 5th congressional district, 1976
Iowa's 5th congressional district, 1978
Iowa's 5th congressional district, 1980
Iowa's 5th congressional district, 1982
Senator Harkin married Minnesota native Ruth Raduenz in 1968 and has two daughters: Amy, born in 1976, and Jenny, born in 1981. Ruth Harkin is an attorney and was one of the first women in the United States to be elected as a prosecutor when, in 1972, she was elected to the office of county attorney of Story County, Iowa. She served as a deputy counsel for the U.S. Department of Agriculture before joining the Washington lobbying firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP, in 1983. In 1993, President Bill Clinton named her chairman and chief executive officer of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). Ruth Harkin left the government and became United Technologies' senior vice president for international affairs and government relations in April 1997, leading their Washington DC office. In 2002, Mrs. Harkin became a director of ConocoPhillips. Mrs. Harkin currently sits on the Iowa Board of Regents, the body responsible for overseeing the state's public universities.
Their daughter Amy appeared on the NBC daytime reality series Starting Over from 2003 to 2004. Although Harkin never appeared on the show, his voice was heard when his daughter spoke to him on the phone. She is currently a graduate student at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.
- Harkin, Tom and Thomas, C. E. Five Minutes to Midnight: Why the Nuclear Threat Is Growing Faster Than Ever, Carol Publishing Corporation, 1990. ISBN 1-55972-042-5
- "Senator Harkin - Biography". Retrieved January 27, 2013.
- McCrone, William P. (1990). "Senator Tom Harkin: reflections on disability policy | Journal of Rehabilitation | Find Articles at BNET". Findarticles.com. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
- Judith Miller (1992-02-09). "Tom Harkin's Old-Time Religion - Biography". New York Times Magazine. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
- Miller, Judith. "Tom Harkin's Old-Time Religion", The New York Times, February 9, 1992. Accessed November 6, 2007. "After his mother died, Harkin, an altar boy, went to Dowling Catholic High School in Des Moines and won a Navy R.O.T.C. scholarship to college."
- "Politico.Com: Videos". Link.brightcove.com. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
- Budiansky S. (July 9, 1995). "Cures or 'Quackery'?". U.S. News & World Reports. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
- "Senator Tom Harkin: "Disappointed" that NCCAM hasn't "validated" more CAM". Science-Based Medicine. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
- "Ability Magazine: Senator Harkin - Updating the ADA" (2009)". Retrieved 2012-04-03.
- "Ability Magazine: Senator Tom Harkin: Setting Our People Free Cooper". Retrieved 2012-04-05.
- "Tom Harkin on the Issues". Issues2000.org. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
- Harkin: Stupak's abortion amendment is slippery slope
- "Iowa Senator changes view, opposes banning same-sex marriage". Gay & Lesbian Times (1116). 14 May 2009. Retrieved 17 May 2009.
- "Senate Vote 281 - Repeals 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'". The New York Times.
- Bill Clinton, "Remarks on Signing the Trade and Development Act of 2000", May 8, 2000|http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2889/is_20_36/ai_63693089
- "Combating Child Labour in Cocoa Growing". International Labor Organization. 2005. Retrieved 26 April 2012.
- David Wolfe and Shazzie (2005). Naked Chocolate: The Astonishing Truth about the World's Greatest Food. North Atlantic Books. p. 98. ISBN 1-55643-731-5. Retrieved 15 December 2011.
- Humphrey Hawksley (12 April 2001). "Mali's children in chocolate slavery". BBC News. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
- "Protocol for the growing and processing of cocoa beans and their derivative products in a manner that complies with ILO Convention 182 concerning the prohibition and immediate action for the elimination of the worst forms of child labor". International Cocoa Initiative. 2001. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
- Tricia Escobedo (19 September 2011). "The Human Cost of Chocolate". CNN. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
- Karen Ann Monsy (24 February 2012). "The bitter truth". Khaleej Times. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
- Payson Center for International Development and Technology Transfer (31 March 2011). "Oversight of Public and Private Initiatives to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor in the Cocoa Sector of Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana". Tulane University. pp. 7–12. Retrieved 26 April 2012.
- "Technical difficulties". Harkin.senate.gov. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
- Ericson, Jon. "WCF Courier - Harkin seeks supplement program for retirees". WCF Courier. WCF Courier. Retrieved September 2, 2012.
- "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote". Senate.gov. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
- "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote". Senate.gov. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
- Miller, Judith: "Tom Harkin's Old-Time Religion", New York Times Magazine, February 9, 1992
- Our Campaigns - US President - D Primaries Race - Feb 01, 1992
- Our Campaigns - IL US President - D Primary Race - Mar 17, 1992
- Our Campaigns - IA District 5 Race - Nov 07, 1972
- Our Campaigns - IA District 5 Race - Nov 04, 1974
- Our Campaigns - IA District 5 Race - Nov 02, 1976
- Our Campaigns - IA District 5 Race - Nov 07, 1978
- Our Campaigns - IA District 5 Race - Nov 04, 1980
- Our Campaigns - IA District 5 Race - Nov 02, 1982
- Our Campaigns - IA US Senate Race - Nov 06, 1984
- Our Campaigns - IA US Senate Race - Nov 06, 1990
- Our Campaigns - IA US President - D Caucuses Race - Jan 21, 1992
- Our Campaigns - IA US Senate- D Primary Race - Jun 04, 1996
- Our Campaigns - IA US Senate Race - Nov 05, 1996
- Our Campaigns - IA US Senate - D Primary Race - Jun 04, 2002
- Our Campaigns - IA US Senate Race - Nov 05, 2002
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Biography, voting record, and interest group ratings at Project Vote Smart
- Profile at Ballotpedia
- Congressional profile at GovTrack
- Congressional profile at Roll Call
- Congressional profile at OpenCongress
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Financial information (federal office) at OpenSecrets.org
- Staff salaries, trips and personal finance (federal office) at LegiStorm.com
- Issue positions and quotes at On the Issues
- Voting record at The Washington Post
- Appearances on C-SPAN programs
- Appearances at the Internet Movie Database
- Works by or about Tom Harkin in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Collected news and commentary at The New York Times
- Collected news and commentary at The Washington Post
- Entry at NNDB
- Profile at SourceWatch