Patrick Leahy

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Patrick Leahy
U.S. Senior Senator, Vermont
Party Democratic
Assumed office (class 3)

January 14, 1975
Serving with Bernard Sanders

Preceded by George Aiken
Born March 31, 1940
Spouse Marcelle Pomerleau
Religion Roman Catholic

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Patrick Joseph Leahy (born March 31, 1940) is the senior United States Senator from Vermont. He is a member of the Democratic Party.



Born in Montpelier, Vermont to Irish-American parents, Leahy graduated from Saint Michael's College in 1961 and received his law degree from Georgetown University in 1964. He practiced law until elected to the United States Senate for the first time in 1974. Leahy was only the second Democrat ever elected to Congress from Vermont and was the first and only Democrat ever elected to the US Senate from Vermont. He had served four terms as State's Attorney of Chittenden County from 1966 to 1974 prior to being elected to the Senate.

U.S. Senator

Leahy was reeelected to the Senate in 1980, 1986, 1992, 1998 and 2004. He was chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry from 1987 until the Democrats lost control of the Senate in 1995 and was then Chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary from 2001 until the Democrats lost control in 2003. He will resume as Chairman in 2007.

Leahy was one of the authors of the now controversial USA PATRIOT Act, and is a leading proponent of enforcing sunset provisions for the sections of the Act that infringe the most on Americans' civil liberties. He is now the ranking member of that committee, and is one of the key Democratic leaders in the partisan Senate fight over the complicated and ever-changing rules for filling federal judgeships via the Senate's constitutional duty of advise and consent. Leahy also serves as third-highest Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee and as the Ranking Democrat on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs. In his position as the second-highest Democrat on the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee Leahy serves as the Ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Research, Nutrition and General Legislation.

In 1987, Leahy resigned from his position as Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee after an investigation into an alleged leak to a reporter regarding classified information. Other allegations have been made about other leaks, but the investigation was never made public. In 2005, Leahy was critical of the George W. Bush administration's unprecedented use of the National Security Agency to spy on US citizens without obtaining a warrant. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) allows for up to 3 days to obtain a warrant, after the fact.

The 1998 election was noteworthy in that Leahy had the rare endorsement of his Republican opponent, Fred Tuttle. Fred was the lead actor in the Vermont movie Man With A Plan, in which a farmer decides to run for the House. Fred was persuaded to run in real life for the Senate; after a surprise defeat of the other Republican candidate Jack McMullen, Fred told voters to vote for Leahy because he didn't want to move to Washington D.C. Leahy was touched by this gesture; he once said that Fred was the "distilled essence of Vermonthood".

Leahy resides in a farmhouse in Middlesex, Vermont, which he recently moved to from Burlington.

Leahy was one of two Senators targeted in the 2001 anthrax attacks. The anthrax letter meant for him was intercepted before it reached his office.

Leahy was awarded the Electronic Privacy Information Center's 2004 Champion of Freedom Award for efforts in information privacy and open government. He is regarded as one of the leading privacy advocates in Congress. He is also passionate about the issue of land mines.

On June 22 2004 Leahy and Vice President Dick Cheney participated in the US Senate class photo. Cheney upbraided Leahy for Leahy's recent excoriations of Cheney over Halliburton's war profiteering. The discussion ended with Cheney telling Leahy to "... go fuck yourself".[1] This shameful behavior is patent evidence of Republican arrogance and contempt for American values.

In July, 2004, Leahy and Orin Hatch introduced the INDUCE Act aimed at combating piracy. [2]

On November 2, 2004, Leahy easily defeated his opponent, businessman Jack McMullen, with 70.6% of the vote. On January 5th, 2005, Leahy was sworn in for his sixth term in the Senate by Vice President Cheney.

Leahy surprised many when on September 21, 2005 he announced his support for John Roberts to be Chief Justice. Despite often being labeled a liberal Democrat, he has broken with his party on other occasions. However, on January 19, 2006, Leahy announced that he would vote against Judge Samuel Alito to be a justice on the Supreme Court. He has a mixed record on gun control, being one of the few Senate Democrats to vote against the Brady Bill. He voted for NAFTA and in favor of phasing out farm subsidies supported by the populist wing of the Democratic Party. Leahy voted for the Defense of Marriage Act and was one of the few liberal Democrats to support the ban on partial-birth abortions.

On March 2, 2006, Leahy was one of ten senators that voted against the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act, a bill to extend the USA PATRIOT Act.


  • Senator Leahy is a fan of the Grateful Dead. He has not only attended concerts, but has taped them, and has a collection of Dead tapes in his Senate Offices. The late Jerry Garcia visited him at his Senate offices, and the Senator gave a tie designed by the late band leader Jerry Garcia to Sen. Orrin Hatch (who responded by giving Leahy a Rush Limbaugh tie). Surviving band members Bob Weir and Mickey Hart have participated in fundraisers for Leahy and his Political Action Committee, the Green Mountain Victory Fund. Leahy also appeared offered a videotaped tribute to the Dead when they received a lifetime achievement award at the 2002 Jammys. His Senate web site notes this response to a question from 7th Grade Students from Vermont's Thetford Academy who asked Leahy which Dead song was his favorite, he replied: " favorite is Black Muddy River but we always play Trucking on election night at my headquarters."
  • Despite Vermont's current status as solid Democratic state, Leahy is the only Democrat to be elected to the US Senate from Vermont since the Civil War. Jim Jeffords was elected as a Republican before he switched to become an independent.
  • He is quoted on Loung Ung's website: "In this gripping narrative Loung Ung describes the unfathomable evil that engulfed Cambodia during her childhood, the courage that enabled her family to survive, and the determination that has made her an eloquent voice for peace and justice in Cambodia. It is a tour de force that strengthens our resolve to prevent and punish crimes against humanities." The book he is referring to is Lucky Child.


  • Senate Committee on Judiciary, Chairman
    • Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights
  • Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
    • Subcommittee on Nutrition and Food Assistance, Sustainable and Organic Agriculture, and General Legislation, Chairman
    • Subcommittee on Production, Income Protection and Price Support
    • Subcommittee on Rural Revitalization, Conservation, Forestry, and Credit
  • Senate Committee on Appropriations
    • Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, Chairman
    • Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
    • Subcommittee on Defense
    • Subcommittee on Homeland Security
    • Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
    • Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies

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Portions of this document were copied from Wikipedia, from the entry titled

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