|U.S. Senior Senator, Illinois|
| Assumed office (class 2) |
January 4, 2007
|Preceded by||Paul Findley|
|Born||November 21, 1944|
Richard Joseph "Dick" Durbin (born November 21, 1944) is the courageous Democratic Senior Senator from Illinois. He represented Illinois's 20th Congressional District from 1983-1997, winning election to the Senate in 1996 to succeed his mentor, Paul Simon. Durbin's low-key demeanor masks his behind-the-scenes influence; he's Assistant Democratic Floor Leader in the Senate, chaired the platform committee for the Democratic convention in 2000 and was floated as a possible running mate for Al Gore.
Durbin's top legislative priorities are:
- Tobacco - Durbin introduced the bill that banned smoking on airplanes, and has been a vocal opponent of the cigarette industry.
- Gun Control - Durbin favors effective gun control measures.
- Farming - A downstater, Durbin is a strong proponent of ethanol.
- War in Iraq - In 2002, Durbin was one of only a few Senators seeking reelection that voted against War in Iraq. He won a second term easily over his Republican opponent, former state representative Jim Durkin.
Torture Speech Controversy
Sen. Durbin sparked controversy on June 14, 2005 on the Senate floor during debate when he made comment about the description of interrogation techniques in an FBI report which were being used at the dentention faciality in Guantanamo Cuba stating:
- This is the type of thing you would expect from a repressive regime. This is not the type of thing you would expect from the United States. If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime - Pol Pot or others - that had no concern for human beings.
Durbin placed the nomination of Associate Attorney General Robert McCallum to be U.S. ambassador to Australia on hold so that the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility could finish its ethics inquiry into the handling of a civil racketeering tobacco case that alleged cigarette companies knowingly engaged in deception for decades by denying that nicotine was addictive and downplaying the dangers of smoking. Filed during the Clinton administration the second Bush adminsitration's Justice Department bypassed the position of one of its own witnesses and reduced the amount the Bush administration was seeking from the tobacco industry from $130 billion to $10 billion. Nothing is too good for Big Business in this adminsitration. McCallum was the third ranking official at the department at the time and he defended the reduction in the award against Democrats and anti-smoking groups who said the Bush administration had caved in to the tobacco lobby. U.S. senators may place a hold on an executive branch nominee, but that may be overcome by a vote of 60 Senators. Source: Pete Yost. "Durbin Blocking Ambassadorial Nomination." Associated Press. April 14, 2006.
- Senate Committee on Appropriations
- Senate Committee on Judiciary
- Executive Branch
- Judicial Branch
- Legislative Branch
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