Ron Johnson (Wisconsin politician)
Ronald Harold Johnson (born April 8, 1955) is an American businessman and Republican politician serving as the senior United States Senator from Wisconsin. Johnson was first elected to the Senate in 2010, defeating Democratic incumbent Russ Feingold, and was re-elected in 2016. Before being elected to the Senate, Johnson was chief executive officer of PACUR, LLC, a polyester and plastics manufacturer.
|United States Senator|
|Assumed office |
January 3, 2011
Serving with Tammy Baldwin
|Preceded by||Russ Feingold|
|Chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee|
|Assumed office |
January 3, 2015
|Preceded by||Tom Carper|
Ronald Harold Johnson
April 8, 1955
Mankato, Minnesota, U.S.
|Political party||Republican Party (United States)|
Jane Johnson (m. 1977)
|Education||University of Minnesota (BS)|
|Net worth||$10.4 million (2018)|
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Business career
- 3 U.S. Senate
- 4 Political positions
- 5 Electoral history
- 6 Personal life
- 7 Honors
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Early life and educationEdit
Johnson was born in Mankato, Minnesota, the son of Jeanette Elizabeth (née Thisius) and Dale Robert Johnson. His father was of Norwegian descent and his mother was of German ancestry. While growing up, Johnson delivered newspapers, worked as a caddy at a golf course, baled hay on his uncle's dairy farm, and worked as a dishwasher in a restaurant. He attended the University of Minnesota while working full-time and graduated in 1977 with a degree in business and accounting. He continued studying until 1979 but did not receive a graduate degree.
In 1979, Johnson moved to Wisconsin with his wife, Jane. They both started working with Jane's brother, Pat Curler, at his custom sheet extruder company. The company was named PACUR; the name is an abbreviation of “Pat Curler”. Curler created the company with funding from his and Jane's father, Howard Curler. For the first several years of PACUR's existence, Bemis was the company's only customer.
For nearly a year, Johnson worked as the accountant and as a machine operator at PACUR. He traded 12-hour shifts with his brother-in-law, with whom he also shared a small cot. The company later expanded into the area of medical device packaging, which involved hiring salespeople and exporting products to other countries. In the mid-1980s, Pat Curler left PACUR and Johnson became CEO of the company. In 1987, the Curler family sold PACUR to Bowater Industries for $18 million; Johnson continued as the company's CEO following the sale. In 1997, Johnson purchased PACUR from Bowater; he remained the company's CEO until he was elected to the Senate in 2010.
The 2010 U.S. Senate campaign was Johnson's first run for elected office. He was described as a "political blank slate" because he had no history of campaigning or holding office. Johnson attracted the attention of the Tea Party movement when he gave two emotional speeches at Tea Party rallies. According to The New York Times, Johnson said he "did kind of spring out of the Tea Party" and is glad to be associated with it, although he did not join the Senate Tea Party Caucus following his election.
In the September 14, 2010 Republican primary, Johnson, running a largely self-financed campaign, defeated Watertown businessman Dave Westlak. Johnson won 85% of the vote, with 10% going to Westlake and the remaining 5% going to Stephen Finn.
As a candidate, Johnson opposed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. He launched his campaign by telling the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the United States "would have been far better off not spending any of the money and [letting] the recovery happen as it was going to happen." The newspaper later reported that the education council Johnson led considered applying for stimulus money in 2009, but ultimately elected not to do so. The Johnson campaign stated that nonprofits consider "many possibilities," but that the council "made no application" for stimulus funds.
Johnson's 2010 Senate campaign raised a total of $15.2 million, $9 million of which was his own money. In June 2011, Johnson's financial disclosures showed that PACUR, the company where he served as CEO until elected to the Senate, had paid him $10 million in deferred compensation in early 2011. The compensation covered the period from 1997–2011 during which he took no salary from PACUR. Johnson said that he, as CEO, had personally determined the dollar amount and that the amount was unrelated to the contributions he had given to his campaign.
After being elected to the Senate, Johnson "sold every liquid asset so there would be absolutely no chance for conflict of interest," although he was not required to sell these holdings.
In March 2013, Johnson announced that he would seek re-election in 2016. In November 2014, he was again endorsed by the fiscally conservative Club for Growth; that month, he said he would not self-finance his re-election bid. In December 2014, the Washington Post rated Johnson the most vulnerable incumbent US Senator in the 2016 election cycle. In May 2015, former Democratic U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, whom Johnson had defeated in 2010, announced he would run to win the Senate seat back.
In the November 8, 2016, general election, Johnson won his re-election bid against Feingold with 50.2% of the vote.
- Committee on Foreign Relations
- Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation (Chairman)
- Committee on the Budget
- Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (Chairman)
- United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Environment and energyEdit
In a 2010 interview, Johnson called scientists who attribute global warming to man-made causes "crazy", saying the theory is "lunacy" and attributing climate change to causes other than human activity. In August 2015, Johnson said that "the climate hasn't warmed in quite a few years. That is proven scientifically." In February 2016, Johnson said "I've never denied climate change. The climate has always changed, and it always will". Johnson is a cosponsor of the Energy Tax Prevention Act, which would block the EPA from imposing new rules on carbon emissions.
When asked about allowing additional drilling for oil in the continental US, including the Great Lakes if oil was to be found there, Johnson responded: "We have to get the oil where it is, but we need to do it responsibly. We need to utilize American ingenuity and American technology to make sure we do it environmentally sensitively and safely." After criticism from the Feingold campaign, Johnson said in July 2010 that his answer did not mean he supported drilling in the Great Lakes.
In January 2018, Johnson said that he had an informant with information that the FBI and Department of Justice had conspired against Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election; Johnson described it as a "secret society" and said that there was "corruption at the highest levels of the FBI". The same day, he walked back the comments.
In February 2018, Johnson suggested that a text message between FBI agent Peter Strzok and Lisa Page raised questions about “the type and extent of President Obama's personal involvement” in the Clinton emails investigation. However, the text message from September 2016, which said "Potus wants to know everything we're doing", referred to the FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, not the Clinton emails investigation which had concluded months earlier.
In April 2019, Johnson defended President Trump referring to FBI agents as "scum". Johnson said "I think there's a proven fact there was definitely corruption at the highest levels of the FBI."
During the Obama presidency, Johnson proposed limiting federal spending in order to reduce the deficit, and was active in attempting to drive consensus on fiscal issues between Republicans in the Senate and the House. He was involved in the deals to raise the debt ceiling in July 2011 and January 2013. Despite projections of a 1 trillion dollar increase in the national debt over 10 years, Johnson voted for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
Johnson said that 2011 debate over whether to increase the US debt ceiling presented an opportunity to establish hard caps on federal spending. He argued that Congress could not keep raising the debt limit, and needed to prioritize spending. Johnson called for open negotiations over the debt ceiling, saying that the closed-door talks were "outrageous" and "disgusting." He said that default should not have been a concern, because the government had plenty of funding to pay interest on debt, Social Security benefits, and salary for soldiers.
Johnson has opposed increased government spending and the federal stimulus. He has supported broad reduction in federal tax rates, simplifying regulations on business and free-market health care options. When asked if Johnson would get rid of home mortgage interest deductions (claiming mortgage interest as a tax-deductible expense), he said he "wouldn't rule it out" as part of an effort to lower taxes and simplify the tax code.
Despite his prior stances on limiting the federal deficit, Johnson voted in favor of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, which the Congressional Budget Office found would add $242 billion to the federal budget deficit in 2018 and would result in the annual deficit topping $1 trillion in two years and rising to $1.5 trillion by 2028.
Johnson is a strong supporter of gun rights. He is cosponsor of S.570, a bill that, if passed, would prohibit the Department of Justice from tracking and cataloging the purchases of multiple rifles and shotguns. In April 2013, Johnson was one of 12 Republican Senators who signed a letter threatening to filibuster any newly introduced gun control legislation. That month, Johnson joined 45 other Senators in defeating the Manchin-Toomey Amendment, which would have required background checks on all commercial sales of guns.
Johnson opposes the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and has voted to repeal it. During a radio interview in August 2017, Johnson said the following about John McCain's "thumbs-down" vote that ultimately killed Republicans' Obamacare repeal bill, "He has a brain tumor right now, the vote occurred at 1:30 in the morning, so some of that might have factored in." A McCain spokesman called the statements "bizarre and deeply unfortunate." Johnson later stated that he was "disappointed I didn't more eloquently express my sympathy for what Sen. McCain is going through."
In early 2014, Johnson criticized the ability of Congress to continue using pre-tax employer contributions to help pay for their medical care, rather than being subject to the full text of the Affordable Care Act that the rest of the nation must follow. Johnson initiated a lawsuit against the Obama Administration offering ACA exemptions to members of Congress and their staff. "I really do believe that the American people expect, and they have every right to expect, that members of Congress, the political class here in Washington, should be fully subject to all of the rules, all the laws that Congress imposes on the rest of America...", Johnson said. In July 2014, a court ruled that the Senator did not have standing and dismissed the case. In April 2015, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit also said Johnson lacked legal standing to bring the case forward.
Johnson has declined to support efforts to tie funding the federal government with defunding Obamacare, stating: "Even if we were to not pass the continuing resolution [to fund the federal government], you're not going to be able to defund Obamacare, absent of President Obama signing a law, which I think is highly unlikely."
Johnson supported President Trump's decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which he stated was unconstitutional and "created incentives for children from Central America to take great risks to enter America illegally." Trump's decision made eligible for deportation, following a six-month waiting period, the approximately 800,000 unauthorized immigrants who entered the country as minors and who had temporary permission to stay in the country.
In July 2011, Johnson introduced a bill that would impose a moratorium on significant new federal regulations until the national unemployment level falls to 7.7 percent – just below where it was when President Obama took office.
Johnson is one of the Senate Republicans arguing in favor of the "nuclear option", "to speed up consideration of President Trump's nominees". Changing the Senate's rules to a simple majority vote would "ensure a quicker pace on Trump's court picks".
Johnson opposes abortion except in cases of incest, rape, or when the mother's life is in danger. He opposes the funding of research that uses embryonic stem cells. Johnson has stated he disagrees with it morally and also has said that eliminating the funding of the research would help balance the federal budget.
In March 2015, Johnson voted for an amendment to establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund to allow employees to earn paid sick time.
Statute of limitations for sex abuse lawsuitsEdit
In January 2010, prior to holding elective office, Johnson opposed a Wisconsin bill that would have eliminated the time limit for future child sex abuse victims to bring lawsuits while allowing an additional three years for past victims to sue. Johnson testified before the Wisconsin Senate that "punishment for the actual perpetrators should be severe," but questioned whether it would be just for employers of perpetrators to be severely financially damaged or destroyed by lawsuits. He added that the bill, if enacted, might actually reduce the reporting of child sex abuse. At the time of his testimony, Johnson was on the Finance Council of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Green Bay. In June 2010 he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "I can't think of a penalty that would be too harsh for these guys" and in late September 2010, Johnson indicated that the legislation would have financially crippled organizations such as the Boys & Girls Clubs and that the punishment for child sex abuse should be "severe and swift." He also sought to address reports about his testimony, saying “I sought to warn legislators of those consequences in order to correct legislative language so that any bills that passed would punish the perpetrators and those that protect them, not honorable organizations that do so much good for our communities. We must rid our society of people who prey on children.”
In November 2018, Johnson was one of twelve Republican senators to sign a letter to President Trump requesting the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement be submitted to Congress by the end of the month to allow a vote on it before the end of the year as they were concerned "passage of the USMCA as negotiated will become significantly more difficult" if having to be approved through the incoming 116th United States Congress.
In August 2019, Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, told Johnson that military aid for Ukraine was linked President Donald Trump’s push for Ukraine to investigate the origins of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. In October 2019, amid the impeachment inquiry into Trump, Johnson said that in August he had become aware that Trump had withheld aid to Ukraine unless they investigated the Bidens, but that he did not see any bad motives by Trump in doing so, and that he was sympathetic to Trump's complaints.
In February 2016, Johnson was one of eight senators who signed a letter to then Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, urging reforms in the office of the Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin. On October 3, 2019, Johnson told reporters he did not recall signing the letter, which contradicts Trump's allegations that former Vice President Joe Biden had improperly pushed for Shokin's removal.
That same day, Johnson also said that there was nothing wrong with Trump asking China, in October 2019, to start an investigation into 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, although there is no evidence of any wrong-doing by Biden or his son in China. Johnson has been one of the few Republican Senators to defend Donald Trumps efforts to get Ukraine and China to investigate his political opponents Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Johnson pushed conspiracy theories that the FBI and CIA were conspiring against President Trump.
|Democratic||Russ Feingold (incumbent)||1,020,958||47.02%|
|Republican gain from Democratic|
During his time in the Senate, Johnson has endorsed the Joseph Project. The Joseph Project helps unemployed persons in the Milwaukee area (some of whom have criminal records) find jobs and provides them with training in soft skills. Johnson has encouraged local companies to hire "graduates" of the program.
Johnson has been awarded the following foreign honor:
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- Almanac of American Politics 2014, p. 1822.
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- Opoien, Jesse (June 23, 2015). "Ron Johnson, Russ Feingold trade barbs on PACUR payment, PAC spending". The Capital Times. Retrieved February 22, 2016.
- Daniel Bice (June 23, 2011). "Johnson proves to be a big spender – and taker: Firm pays him $10 million". Journal Sentinel.
- Sarlin, Benjy; Crabtree, Susan (June 28, 2011). "Ron Johnson Ducks TPM Questions On His $10 Million Payday: 'It's A Private Company'". Talking Points Memo. Retrieved November 1, 2011.
- "Election 2010 Wisconsin Results". The New York Times. November 3, 2011. Retrieved February 27, 2011.
- "Sen. Ron Johnson of Oshkosh cleans up stock holdings". Appleton Post Crescent. June 16, 2011. Retrieved November 1, 2011.
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- Cillizza, Chris; Blake, Aaron; Sullivan, Sean (November 7, 2014). "Why Republicans' Senate majority could be very short-lived". Washington Post. Retrieved December 10, 2014.
- Bauer, Scott (May 14, 2015). "Wisconsin's Feingold to Run for US Senate". Associated Press.
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- Steve Schultze (August 16, 2010). "Sunspots are behind climate change, Johnson says". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved February 27, 2011.
- Tom Kirtscher, "No climate warming in quite a few years, Sen. Ron Johnson says -- but records were set in 2014, 2015", Politifact Wisconsin, Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel, August 12, 2016, Retrieved August 12, 2016
- Moore, Greg (February 5, 2016). "Johnson: Jobs, health care as important as terror fight". Star Tribune. Associated Press. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
- "Energy". Ronjohnsonforsenate.com. Retrieved October 14, 2015.
- Dave Umhoefer (July 15, 2010). "Feingold, Johnson spar over oil drilling". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Retrieved February 27, 2011.
- Conradis, Brandon (January 23, 2018). "GOP senator claims to have informant alleging secret anti-Trump meetings". TheHill. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
- "Ron Johnson Walks Back FBI 'Secret Society' Claim". The Daily Beast. January 24, 2018. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
- Wilber, Del Quentin (February 7, 2018). "Text From 2016 Shows Obama's Interest in FBI Employees' Work". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved February 8, 2018.
- Inc, Midwest Communications. "Sen. Johnson Defends Trump's FBI Comments". WSAU. Archived from the original on 2019. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
- "U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson backs tax cuts, dismisses $1 trillion projected increase in federal debt". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
- Kaplan, Thomas (September 28, 2017). "With Tax Cuts on the Table, Once-Mighty Deficit Hawks Hardly Chirp". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
- Korbe, Tina (April 13, 2011). "Sen. Ron Johnson: Debt Ceiling Debate Should Net Spending Cap". Blog.heritage.org. Retrieved November 1, 2011.
- Johnson, Ron (June 20, 2011). "Congress can't keep raising the debt limit". Ronjohnson.senate.gov. Retrieved November 1, 2011.
- McCormack, John (July 7, 2011). "Sen. Ron Johnson: Closed Door Debt Ceiling Negotiations "Outrageous," "Disgusting"". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved November 1, 2011.
- "Real Reforms for Health Care". Ron Johnson for Senate website. June 10, 2010. Retrieved February 27, 2011.
- Bob Schaper (August 20, 2010). "Johnson willing to 'horse trade' mortgage interest deduction". Madison, WI: WKOW. Retrieved February 27, 2011.
- Lee, Jasmine (December 19, 2017). "How Every Senator Voted on the Tax Bill". New York Times. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
- CBO (April 9, 2018). "The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2018 to 2028". Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
- Gleckman, Howard (April 10, 2018). "5 Takeaways From CBO's Budget Outlook". Forbes. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
- "S.570: A bill to prohibit the Department of Justice from tracking and cataloguing the purchases of multiple... OpenCongress". OpenCongress. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
- "12 GOP senators back Rand Paul on gun-control filibuster". Politico. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
- "U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 113th Congress – 1st Session". Legislation & Records. United States Senate. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
- "Ron Johnson won't give up in his quest to repeal and replace Obamacare". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
- News, A. B. C. (August 11, 2017). "John McCain attends Diamondbacks game with wife, daughter". ABC News. Retrieved August 11, 2017.
- CNN, Andrew Kaczynski and David Wright. "Sen. Johnson walks back remarks on McCain's brain cancer". CNN. Retrieved August 11, 2017.
- "Senator Sues Obama Administration To Block His Own Health Care". Huffington Post. January 6, 2014.
- "Appeals Court Rejects GOP Senator's Obamacare Challenge". Huffington Post. April 14, 2015.
- "Implementing Health Reform: Senator Rebuffed In Challenge To Congressional Participation In ACA Exchanges". healthaffairs.org. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
- Blake, Aaron (August 14, 2013). "Sen. Ron Johnson opposes Obamacare defunding effort". Washington Post. Retrieved August 14, 2014.
- "US reacts to Trump's move to scrap the DACA programme". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved September 6, 2017.
- "Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., Wants a Regulatory Moratorium Pegged to Unemployment". The Weekly Standard. August 5, 2011. Retrieved November 1, 2011.
- Bolton, Alexander. "GOP faces internal battle over changing Senate rules". The Hill. Retrieved May 24, 2018.
- "Ron Johnson – The Jerry Bader Show – WTAQ News Talk 97.5FM and 1360AM". Wtaq.com. June 7, 2010. Archived from the original on April 5, 2012. Retrieved November 1, 2011.
- "Wisconsin Right to Life toes GOP line". Madison, WI: The Capitol Times. July 5, 2010. Retrieved February 27, 2011.
- "Johnson opposes funding for embryonic stem cells". Manitowoc, WI: The Herald Times Reporter. October 2, 2010. Archived from the original on October 12, 2010.
- Sullivan, Sean (March 27, 2015). "Senate passes budget after lengthy, politically charged 'Vote-a-rama'". Washington Post. Retrieved April 9, 2015.
- Patty Murray (September 30, 2010). "Senate candidate Johnson defends position on child sex crimes". Wisconsin Public Radio. Fox21. Retrieved February 27, 2011.
- "Ron Johnson Testifies Against child Abuse Victims, Opposed Child Victims Act in wisconsin". YouTube. September 24, 2010. Retrieved November 1, 2011.
- Bice, Daniel (June 6, 2010). "Ron Johnson's record includes opposition to victims' bill". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved November 1, 2011.
- Stiles, Andrew (September 29, 2010). "Wisc Sen Race Takes An Ugly Turn". National Review Online. Retrieved November 1, 2011.
- Everett, Burgess. "GOP senators seek quick passage of Mexico-Canada trade deal". Politico.
- Shuham, Matt (October 4, 2019). "GOP Sen.: US Official Told Me In August That Ukraine Aide Was Tied To Push For 2016 Probe". Talking Points Memo. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
- Beck, Molly; Marley, Patrick; Litke, Eric. "Ron Johnson says he was blocked by President Trump from telling Ukraine foreign aid was coming". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
- "Portman, Durbin, Shaheen, and Senate Ukraine Caucus Reaffirm Commitment to Help Ukraine Take on Corruption | Senator Rob Portman". www.portman.senate.gov. February 12, 2016. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
- &NA; (April 1996). "GOP senator says he doesn't remember signing 2016 letter urging 'reform' of Ukraine prosecutor's office". The Back Letter. 11 (4): 39. doi:10.1097/00130561-199604000-00004. ISSN 0894-7376.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
- Vetterkind R. "Ron Johnson: Nothing wrong with Donald Trump asking China to investigate Joe Biden". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
- Gilbert, Craig (October 10, 2019). "Ron Johnson emerges as vocal Trump defender while many GOP senators lie low". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- Tenbarge, Kat. "GOP Senator Ron Johnson had a 'Fox News conspiracy' meltdown on 'Meet the Press' and changed his story on Ukraine". Business Insider. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
- "Wisconsin U.S. Senate Results: Ron Johnson Wins". August 1, 2017 – via NYTimes.com.
- "Meet Ron Johnson". Ron Johnson for Senate. June 10, 2010. Retrieved February 27, 2011.
- "Metro Lutheran - 112th Congress opens with new and returning Lutheran representation". metrolutheran.org. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
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- "Klaus Iohannis a decorat opt congresmani americani cu Ordinul Steaua României în grad de Comandor". adevarul.ro (in Romanian). June 9, 2017. Retrieved April 29, 2018.
- Peia, Florentina; Iacob, Simona (June 9, 2017). Purcarea, Vicentiu; Pandea, Razvan-Adrian (eds.). "President Iohannis and U.S. congressmen discuss Romania's inclusion in Visa Waiver programme". Agepres. Retrieved April 29, 2018.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ron Johnson (Wisconsin politician).|
- Senator Ron Johnson official US Senate website
- Ron Johnson for Senate
- Ron Johnson at Curlie
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at the Library of Congress
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Bemis business website
- Ron Johnson at Ballotpedia
|Party political offices|
| Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Wisconsin
| U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Wisconsin
Served alongside: Herb Kohl, Tammy Baldwin
| Chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee
|U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
| United States Senators by seniority