John Forbes Kerry

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John Kerry currently serves as the Sr. Senator for Massachusetts

John Forbes Kerry , a Democrat, has been the Senator for Massachusetts since 1984 (map). Republican Scott Brown is the junior Senator. In 2004, Kerry made an unsuccessful bid for president, losing to George W. Bush.

Record and controversies

General information about important bills and votes for can be found in Congresspedia's articles on legislation. You can add information you find on how John Forbes Kerry voted by clicking the "[edit]" link to the right and typing it in. Remember to cite your sources!

Iraq War

In 1991, Kerry initially opposed the measure aimed at liberating Kuwait from the Iraqi invasion. The United Nations had imposed sanctions on Iraq, and Kerry argued that the sanctions then in place should be given more time to work.

More recently, Kerry said on October 9, 2002; "I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force--if necessary--to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security." Bush relied on that resolution in ordering the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Kerry also gave a January 23, 2003 speech to Georgetown University saying "Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator; leading an oppressive regime he presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation. So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real." Kerry did however warn the administration should exhaust its diplomatic avenues before launching war: "Mr. President, do not rush to war, take the time to build the coalition, because it's not winning the war that's hard, it's winning the peace that's hard." [1]

After the invasion of Iraq, regarding the limited discovered evidence of any such weapons, Kerry strongly criticized Bush, contending that he had misled the country: "When the president of the United States looks at you and tells you something, there should be some trust." [2] Although strongly critical of the president on the Iraq invasion, Kerry has stated that he does not regret being one of 29 Democratic Senators to support the resolution.

For more information see the chart of U.S. Senate votes on the Iraq War.

Environmental record

For more information on environmental legislation, see the Energy and Environment Policy Portal

Climate change debate

On April 5, 2007, Kerry and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich announced that they would debate the issue of climate change. Kerry and his wife authored This Moment on Earth, which addresses climate change and preserving the environment. Gingrich wrote a book, A Contract with the Earth, due out in November 2007. The debate attempted to keep climate change in the forefront of Americans’ minds.[1]

Global Warming Reduction Act

The Global Warming Reduction Act of 2007 (S.485) was introduced on February 1, 2007 by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) to "to amend the Clean Air Act to establish an economy-wide global warming pollution emission cap-and-trade program to assist the economy in transitioning to new clean energy technologies, to protect employees and affected communities, to protect companies and consumers from significant increases in energy costs, and for other purposes." The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Finance and also gained Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) as a co-sponsor.[2]

Main article: U.S. congressional action on climate change#Global Warming Reduction Act of 2007 (S.485)

Issues and voting record

John Kerry is member of the Democratic Leadership Council, which advocates liberal and neoliberal positions. Most analyses place Kerry's voting record near to, or somewhat to the left of, center within the Senate Democratic caucus.[3] During the 2004 presidential election he was portrayed as a staunch liberal by conservative special interest groups and the Bush campaign, who often noted that in 2003 Kerry was rated the National Journal's top Senate liberal. However, that rating was based only upon voting on legislation within that past year. In fact, in terms of career voting records, the National Journal found that Kerry is the 11th most liberal member of the Senate. Most analyses find that Kerry is "a bit" more liberal than the typical Democratic Senator. For example, Keith T. Poole of the University of Houston found that Kerry was tied for being the 24th most liberal Senator.

Kerry has stated that he opposes privatizing Social Security, supports abortion rights for adult women and minors, supports civil unions for same-sex couples, opposes capital punishment except for terrorists, supports most gun control laws, and is generally a supporter of trade agreements. Kerry supported the North American Free Trade Agreement and Most Favored Nation status for China, but opposed the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

Meeting with Ortega

On April 18, 1985, a few months after taking his Senate seat, Kerry and Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa traveled to Nicaragua and met the country's president, Daniel Ortega. Though Ortega was democratically elected, the trip was criticized because Ortega and his leftist Sandinista government had strong ties to Cuba and the USSR. The Sandinista government was opposed by the right-wing CIA-backed rebels known as the Contras. While in Nicaragua, Kerry and Harkin talked to people on both sides of the conflict. Through the senators, Ortega offered a cease-fire agreement in exchange for the US dropping support of the Contras. The offer was denounced by the Reagan administration as a "propaganda initiative" designed to influence a House vote on a $14 million Contra aid package, but Kerry said "I am take the risk in the effort to put to test the good faith of the Sandinistas." The House voted down the Contra aid, but Ortega flew to Moscow to accept a $200 million loan the next day, an act which in part prompted the House to pass a larger $27 million aid package six weeks later. [4]

Iran-Contra hearings

In April 1986, Kerry and Senator Christopher Dodd, a Democrat from Connecticut, proposed that hearings be conducted by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee regarding charges of Contra involvement in cocaine and marijuana trafficking. Sen. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, the Republican chairman of the committee, agreed to conduct the hearings.

Meanwhile, Kerry's staff began their own investigations, and on October 14 issued a report which exposed illegal activities on the part of Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, who had set up a private network involving the National Security Council and the CIA to deliver military equipment to right-wing Nicaraguan rebels (Contras). In effect, North and certain members of the President's administration were accused by Kerry's report of illegally funding and supplying armed militants without the authorization of Congress. Kerrys staff investigation, based on a yearlong inquiry and interviews with 50 unnamed sources, is said to raise "serious questions about whether the United States has abided by the law in its handling of the contras over the past three years."

The Kerry Committee report found that "the Contra drug links included...payments to drug traffickers by the U.S. State Department of funds authorized by the Congress for humanitarian assistance to the Contras, in some cases after the traffickers had been indicted by federal law enforcement agencies on drug charges, in others while traffickers were under active investigation by these same agencies." The Kerry report was a precursor to the Iran-Contra affair. On May 4, 1989, North was convicted of charges relating to the Iran/Contra controversy, including three felonies. On September 16, 1991, however, North's convictions were overturned on appeal because North's testimony before Congress under immunity may have affected testimony in the trial.

Kerry and the George H. W. Bush administration

On November 15, 1988, at a businessmen's breakfast in East Lynn, Massachusetts, Kerry made a joke about president-elect George H.W. Bush and his running mate, saying "if Bush is shot, the Secret Service has orders to shoot Dan Quayle." He apologized the following day.

During their investigation of Noriega, Kerry's staff found reason to believe that the Pakistan-based Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) had facilitated Noriega's drug trafficking and money laundering. This led to a separate inquiry into BCCI, and as a result, banking regulators shut down BCCI in 1991. In December 1992, Kerry and Senator Hank Brown, a Republican from Colorado, released The BCCI Affair, a report on the BCCI scandal. The report showed that the bank was crooked and was working with terrorists, including Abu Nidal. It blasted the Department of Justice, the Department of the Treasury, the Customs Service, the Federal Reserve Bank, as well as influential lobbyists and the CIA. [5]

Kerry was criticized by some Democrats for having pursued his own party members, including former Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford, although Republicans said he should have pressed against some Democrats even harder. The BCCI scandal was later turned over to the Manhattan District Attorney's office.


John Kerry was born December 11, 1943 to upper-middle class parents. He attended the Fessenden School and St. Paul's School before enrolling at Yale University, where he earned a degree in political science in 1966.

Political career

In 1972, Kerry lost a bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives to Republican Paul W. Cronin. He then decided to study law and earned his Juris Doctor from Boston College Law School in 1976. He went to work as an assistant district attorney, a job which he held until entering into private practice in 1979. In 1982, Kerry reentered public service, running for and winning the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor of Massachusetts. He ran with Michael Dukakis in the general election and their ticket won easily.

In 1984, Kerry decided to run for U.S. Senator, when the incumbent Senator Paul Tsongas retired for health reasons. He narrowly won the primary, then won the general election by a larger margin. He was reelected in 1990, 1996, and 2002.

2004 presidential campaign

In the 2004 Democratic presidential primaries, Kerry defeated several Democratic rivals, including Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), former Vermont Governor Howard Dean and retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark to earn the party's nomination for the presidency. He selected John Edwards of North Carolina as his running mate. During the campaign, Kerry's Vietnam service record became a primary topic of debate, with Republican-backed groups such as Swift Boat Veterans for Truth being harshly critical of it. Kerry ultimately was defeated by incumbent George W. Bush.

2008 presidential election

After positioning himself to run in the 2008 presidential election, Kerry announced in a speech to the Senate on January 24, 2007 that he would not be seeking election. Instead, Kerry said he would like to remain in the Senate to ensure the pullout of U.S. troops from Iraq. [6]

Vietnam service

In February of 1966, Kerry volunteered for military service, joining United States Naval Reserve. Following his graduation, he went on active duty and after completing Officer Candidate School, he was commissioned as an ensign. Following a tour of duty on a guided missile frigate, he was promoted to lieutenant and given the command of a swift boat operating in the Vietnam theater. During his time as a swift boat commander, Kerry received a silver star, a bronze star, and three purple hearts. Following his third wound, he was reassigned to non-combat duty until his discharge in 1970.

Following Kerry's return to the United States and discharge from the military, he became a vocal critic of the US involvement in Vietnam. As a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, he lobbied for an end to the conflict from a former participant's point of view. In 1971, he became the first Vietnam veteran to testify in front of Congress regarding the war.

During John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign several Republican groups and Republican front groups brought into question Kerry's military record. As the campaign developed, approximately 200 Vietnam-era veterans formed the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVT) and held press conferences, ran ads, and endorsed a book questioning Kerry's service record and his military awards. Several SBVT members were in the same unit as Kerry, but did not serve at the same time as Kerry's service. Others were listed as serving in the same swift boat, but again not at the same time as Kerry. One of them, Stephen Gardner, served on the same boat with Kerry. Gardner, however, was not present for the events leading up to Kerry's silver star, bronze star or purple hearts. Other SBVT members included two of Kerry's former commanding officers, Grant Hibbard and George Elliott. Hibbard and Elliott have alleged, respectively, that Kerry's first Purple Heart and Silver Star were undeserved. In addition, various members of SBVT have questioned Kerry's other medals and his truthfulness in testimony about the war. Defenders of John Kerry's war record, including most of his surviving former crewmates, have asserted that several organizers of SBVT had close ties to the Bush presidential campaign and that certain SBVT accusations were politically motivated and false.

Asks Department of Homeland Security not to deport illegal immigrant wife of MIA soldier

In June, 2007, Senator Kerry asked DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff to hold off on deporting an illegal immigrant married to an Army specialist missing in action in Iraq. Specialist Alex Jimenez married Yaderlin Hiraldo in 2004, after she arrived illegally in the United States from the Dominican Republic in 2001, and the couple are Senator Kerry's constituents, residing in Lawrence, Mass.[3]

Money in politics

This section contains links to – and feeds from – money in politics databases. <crpcontribdata>cid=N00000245&cycle=2006</crpcontribdata>

Links to more campaign contribution information for John Forbes Kerry
from the Center for Responsive Politics' site.
Fundraising profile: 2006 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by organization/corporation: 2006 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by industry: 2006 election cycle Career totals

Committees and affiliations


Committee assignments in the 109th Congress (2005-2006)

  • Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
    • Subcommittee on Fisheries and the Coast Guard
    • Subcommittee on Global Climate Change
    • Subcommittee on National Ocean Policy Study
    • Subcommittee on Technology Innovation and Competitiveness - Ranking Minority Member
    • Subcommittee on Trade Tourism and Economic Development
  • Senate Committee on Finance
    • Subcommittee on Long-Term Growth Debt and Deficit Reduction - Ranking Minority Member
    • Subcommittee on Health Care
    • Subcommittee on Social Security and Family Policy
  • Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
    • Subcommittee on International Operations and Terrorism
    • Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs - Ranking Minority Member
    • Subcommittee on International Economic Policy Export and Trade Promotion
    • Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Peace Corps and Narcotics Affairs
  • Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship - Ranking Minority Member


More background data

Wikipedia also has an article on John Forbes Kerry. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.


DC Office:
304 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-2102
Phone: 202-224-2742
Fax: 202-224-8525
Web Email

District Office- Boston:
One Bowdoin Square, 10th Floor
Boston, MA 02114
Phone: 617-565-8519
Fax: 617-248-3870

District Office- Worcester:
90 Madison Place, Suite 205
Worcester, MA 01608
Phone: 508-831-7380
Fax: 508-831-7381

District Office- Springfield:
One Financial Plaza
Springfield, MA 01103
Phone: 413-785-4610
Fax: 413-736-1049

District Office- Fall River:
222 Milliken Place, Suite 311
Fall River, MA 02722
Phone: 508-677-0522
Fax: 508-677-0275

Articles and resources


  1. Jeremy Jacobs, "Kerry, Gingrich announce climate showdown," The Hill, April 5, 2007.
  2. OpenCongress: S.485
  3. Kara Oppenheim, "Kerry asks DHS not to deport wife of MIA soldier," The Hill, June 20, 2007.
  4. Advisory Board, Thomas C. Wales Foundation, accessed August 5, 2009.
  5. Counsellors, One Young World, accessed January 8, 2011.


Local blogs and discussion sites

Anti-Kerry websites and groups

Pro-Kerry websites and groups

Speeches, statements and articles by John Kerry

SourceWatch resources

Articles & commentary

  • Full transcript, October 31, 2006, at "I'm sick and tired of a bunch of despicable Republicans who will not debate real policy, who won't take responsibility for their own mistakes, standing up and trying to make other people the butt of those mistakes. It disgusts me that a bunch of these Republican hacks who've never worn the uniform of our country are willing to lie about those who did.".
  • Video: "Kerry Offers No Apologies," Washington Post, October 31, 2006.

Corresponding article on Wikipedia and Cause Caller. (If Cause Caller link does not work, pick from its list of senators and representatives.)

Current Office: U.S. Senate
111th Congress
Leadership Position:
Committees Chaired:
Ranking Member On:

110th Congress
Leadership Position:
Committees Chaired:
Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation/Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Innovation, Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Ranking Member On:

Committees: Senate Committee on Commerce Science and Transportation, Senate Committee on Commerce Science and Transportation/Subcommittee on Aviation Operations Safety and Security, Senate Committee on Commerce Science and Transportation/Subcommittee on Interstate Commerce Trade and Tourism, Senate Committee on Commerce Science and Transportation/Subcommittee on Oceans Atmosphere Fisheries and Coast Guard, Senate Committee on Commerce Science and Transportation/Subcommittee on Science Technology and Innovation, Senate Committee on Commerce Science and Transportation/Subcommittee on Space Aeronautics and Related Sciences, Senate Committee on Commerce Science and Transportation/Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure Safety and Security, Senate Committee on Finance, Senate Committee on Finance/Subcommittee on Energy Natural Resources and Infrastructure, Senate Committee on Finance/Subcommittee on Health Care, Senate Committee on Finance/Subcommittee on Social Security Pensions and Family Policy, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations/Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations/Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance Economic Affairs and International Environmental Protection, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations/Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations/Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Peace Corps and Narcotics Affairs, Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Congressional Career
First Elected to Current Office:
November 6, 1984
First Took Current Office:
January 2, 1985
Next Election:
November 4, 2014
Term Ends:
Freshman Member?
Previous Political Work?
Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts
Other Party Membership:
District Offices:
1. One Bowdoin Square, 10th Floor Boston, MA 02114
Phone: 617-565-8519 / Fax: 617-248-3870
2. 90 Madison Place, Suite 205 Worcester, MA 01608
Phone: 508-831-7380 / Fax: 508-831-7381
3. One Financial Plaza Springfield, MA 01103
Phone: 413-785-4610 / Fax: 413-736-1049
4. 222 Milliken Place, Suite 311 Fall River, MA 02722
Phone: 508-677-0522 / Fax: 508-677-0275

Campaign Contact:

Webform Email: / Email:

Campaign Offices:

Phone: / Fax:

Zip Code Affiliations:

Date of Birth: December 11, 1943