Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 1996, term expires 2020, 4th term.

Born: November 12, 1949, Cranston, RI

Home: Cranston, RI

Education: U.S. Military Acad., West Point, B.S. 1971, Harvard U., M.P.P. 1973, J.D. 1982

Professional Career: Assoc. prof., U.S. Military Acad. at West Point, 1978–79; Practicing atty., 1982–90.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Roman Catholic

Family: Married (Julia Hart) , 1 child

Democrat Jack Reed, Rhode Island’s senior senator, was first elected to the House in 1990 and the Senate in 1996. He is one of the chamber’s lowest-profile members yet among its most-respected wonks, making his influence felt on banking and national security matters by sticking to substance and avoiding bomb-throwing rhetoric. He became the Armed Services Committee's top Democrat in 2015.

Reed grew up in working-class Cranston, the second of three children of a school custodian and a housewife. Disappointed that she never got to go to college, Mary Reed prepared her children for success in school. She insisted on music and art classes for Jack beginning at age 5. But her son was fascinated by history and World War II as a child, eventually deciding he wanted to go to the U.S. Military Academy. At LaSalle Academy, a Catholic prep school in Providence, he played football, though he was small for the sport. He also ran track, was elected to the student council, and worked on the school newspaper. Reed was accepted at West Point and went on to serve in the 82nd Airborne as a paratrooper. He also received a master’s degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School while in the Army, and after retiring from active duty, he graduated from Harvard Law School. Throughout his life, Reed has maintained connections with West Point, teaching there briefly in the late 1970s, serving on the academy’s governing board, and choosing it as the site of his wedding in April 2005.

In 1984, at 35, Reed won public office for the first time, beating an incumbent in the primary for the state Senate, where he served six years. When Republican Claudine Schneider left the U.S. House to run against Sen. Claiborne Pell in 1990, Reed ran for her seat. He beat former Rep. Edward Beard 49%-27% in the Democratic primary and won the general election 59%-41%. In 1995, when Pell announced his retirement after 36 years, Reed ran for the Senate. Reed had no serious competition for the Democratic nomination and faced state Treasurer Nancy Mayer in the general election. National Republicans spent nearly $1 million on ads attacking Reed as a liberal for opposing bills requiring welfare recipients to work and for supporting labor unions—not especially harmful charges in liberal, heavily unionized Rhode Island. Reed spent $2.7 million to Mayer’s $773,000. His biography was his message: Reed launched his campaign in a public school conference room named for his late father, he stressed his bootstraps rise from a working-class background, and he called for education spending to help others achieve the same success. He won 63%-35%.

Reed arrived as one of the few senators of his generation with military experience and has been regarded by many colleagues as an authority on defense and military matters. He has served on the Armed Services Committee since January 1999, and he got a waiver from the Democratic leadership to remain on the panel after securing a seat on the Appropriations Committee in 2007. With Michigan Sen. Carl Levin’s announcement of his retirement, Reed took his top spot on the panel. His clout is such that former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Reed was instrumental in persuading him to stay on the job in the early years of President Obama’s administration. “In terms of reaching out to me, and whether I would stay on, Obama couldn’t have picked a person I was more willing to listen to or respected more than Jack,” Gates told Rhode Island Monthly in November 2012. He also said he proposed Reed to Obama as a candidate for Defense secretary. But the president “shook his head—he clearly has the highest respect for Jack—and he said, ‘I can’t lose him in the Senate,’” Gates recalled.

When Obama was a Democratic presidential candidate, Reed accompanied him on his 2008 trip to Iraq and Afghanistan, and Obama later considered him a potential running mate until Reed ruled himself out. In September 2009, while Obama was mulling strategy in Afghanistan, Reed expressed doubts about sending more troops and said the burden of proof was on commanders to justify a troop increase. Reed has traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan frequently, often straying from the safe zones. “I talk to people in the field, diplomats and soldiers,” he told National Journal in 2010. “I go recognizing, frankly, everyone has an institutional agenda. I try to approach all these things with a questioning mind.” He made his 14th visit to Afghanistan in January 2013 and expressed confidence in the ability to withdraw a significant number of troops there by 2014. He also visited Pakistan, where he reported “a definite and positive change, at least in the atmospherics and the attitude” compared to 2011, when officials in that country were incensed at not being informed of the military raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

In October 2002, Reed opposed the Iraq war resolution, arguing that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld grossly underestimated the strength of anti-American insurgents in Iraq and failed to send in adequate troops and equipment. In 2005, after his fifth trip to Iraq, he said: “I think my criticism has been accurate, certainly in the operations in this region, in that we didn’t organize ourselves for the appropriate occupation and stabilization” after the overthrow of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Reed was at the forefront of Democratic efforts in 2006 to convince President George W. Bush to redeploy forces in Iraq. With Levin, he sponsored a bill calling for a “phased redeployment” in six months, with no deadline for complete withdrawal and with some U.S. forces remaining to train Iraqi security forces. The Levin-Reed amendment lost 60-39. After President Bush’s successful troop surge in 2007, Reed continued to push for alternatives that would leave only a residual force in Iraq for counter-terrorism, protection of U.S. personnel, and logistical support for Iraqi security forces. But most Republicans were opposed, and Reed failed to gain the 60 votes required to force a final vote.

Reed long backed efforts to permanently increase the size of the Army. In 2004, he and Nebraska GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel called for an increase of 30,000 troops, and the Senate agreed to 20,000. In 2006, Reed worked with the Republican leadership to add $3.7 billion for more soldiers and Marines, and he sponsored an amendment to add $10 billion to replace damaged or destroyed equipment. But by 2012, he defended Obama’s plans to shrink the size of the Army and Marines.

On most issues, Reed has had a solidly liberal voting record. In February 2009, a National Journal examination of roll call votes dating to the 1980s found him to be the most liberal senator, slightly ahead of Barbara Boxer of California and Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts. Since then, he has remained among the 20 most-liberal senators.

He has championed the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program popular in the Northeast. In 2012, he and Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine were able to get administration assurances to maintain spending on the program at the previous year’s level. He has supported extensions of unemployment benefits and work-share programs, like those in Rhode Island, in which employers reduce the hours of full-time employees in order to avoid layoffs during financial hard times. More recently, he has been instrumental in efforts to extend low interest rates for college student loans.

Reed is a senior member of the Banking Committee, where he has pushed for expanding the affordable housing fund and for tougher oversight of the financial derivatives market. In 2010, he sponsored a bill to create a National Institute of Finance to help regulators monitor systemic risk in the system, and in 2012, he and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, introduced a measure to strengthen the Securities and Exchange Commission’s ability to crack down on securities laws violations.

Reed was easily reelected in 2002, 2008 and 2014. This is a Senate seat whose members have had long tenures. Theodore Green, elected at age 69, served 24 years; Claiborne Pell, elected at 41, served 36 years. Reed was first elected at 47.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 224-4642

(202) 224-4680

HSOB- Hart Senate Office Building Room 728
Washington, DC 20510-3903

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 224-4642

(202) 224-4680

HSOB- Hart Senate Office Building Room 728
Washington, DC 20510-3903

DISTRICT OFFICE

(401) 943-3100

(401) 464-6837

1000 Chapel View Boulevard Suite 290
Cranston, RI 02920-5602

DISTRICT OFFICE

(401) 943-3100

(401) 464-6837

1000 Chapel View Boulevard Suite 290
Cranston, RI 02920-5602

DISTRICT OFFICE

(401) 528-5200

U.S. District Courthouse Suite 408
Providence, RI 02903-1744

DISTRICT OFFICE

(401) 528-5200

(401) 528-5242

U.S. District Courthouse Suite 408
Providence, RI 02903-1173

EXPORT CONTACTS » *

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Jill Brimmer
Legislative Assistant

Agriculture

Steven Keenan
Senior Policy Advisor

Monica Pham
Legislative Assistant

Dylan Leazes
Legislative Correspondent

Animal Rights

Dylan Leazes
Legislative Correspondent

Appropriations

Steven Keenan
Senior Policy Advisor

Dylan Leazes
Legislative Correspondent

Arts

Elyse Wasch
Legislative Director

Moira Lenehan-Razzuri
Legislative Assistant

Banking

Michelle Moreno-Silva
Legislative Correspondent

James Ahn
Legislative Assistant

james_ahn@reed.senate.gov
(202) 224-4642

Budget

Aaron Hernandez
Legislative Assistant

Campaign

Aaron Hernandez
Legislative Assistant

Census

Cooper Reveley
Legislative Assistant

Commerce

Cooper Reveley
Legislative Assistant

Aaron Hernandez
Legislative Assistant

Crime

Cooper Reveley
Legislative Assistant

Disability

Moira Lenehan-Razzuri
Legislative Assistant

Economics

Aaron Hernandez
Legislative Assistant

Education

Moira Lenehan-Razzuri
Legislative Assistant

Energy

Dylan Leazes
Legislative Correspondent

Environment

Monica Pham
Legislative Assistant

Dylan Leazes
Legislative Correspondent

Family

Jill Brimmer
Legislative Assistant

Moira Lenehan-Razzuri
Legislative Assistant

Finance

Michelle Moreno-Silva
Legislative Correspondent

James Ahn
Legislative Assistant

james_ahn@reed.senate.gov
(202) 224-4642

Foreign

Cooper Reveley
Legislative Assistant

John Nobrega
Legislative Correspondent

Govt Ops

Cooper Reveley
Legislative Assistant

Gun Issues

Cooper Reveley
Legislative Assistant

Health

Jill Brimmer
Legislative Assistant

Samuel Chasin
Legislative Correspondence Manager

Homeland Security

Steven Keenan
Senior Policy Advisor

John Nobrega
Legislative Correspondent

Dylan Leazes
Legislative Correspondent

Housing

Michelle Moreno-Silva
Legislative Correspondent

James Ahn
Legislative Assistant

james_ahn@reed.senate.gov
(202) 224-4642

Immigration

Cooper Reveley
Legislative Assistant

John Nobrega
Legislative Correspondent

Insurance

James Ahn
Legislative Assistant

james_ahn@reed.senate.gov
(202) 224-4642

Intelligence

Monica Pham
Legislative Assistant

Judiciary

John Nobrega
Legislative Correspondent

Aaron Hernandez
Legislative Assistant

Labor

Moira Lenehan-Razzuri
Legislative Assistant

Samuel Chasin
Legislative Correspondence Manager

Medicare

Jill Brimmer
Legislative Assistant

Samuel Chasin
Legislative Correspondence Manager

Military

John Nobrega
Legislative Correspondent

Science

John Nobrega
Legislative Correspondent

Monica Pham
Legislative Assistant

Dylan Leazes
Legislative Correspondent

Seniors

Jill Brimmer
Legislative Assistant

Small Business

Aaron Hernandez
Legislative Assistant

Social Security

Jill Brimmer
Legislative Assistant

Samuel Chasin
Legislative Correspondence Manager

Tax

Michelle Moreno-Silva
Legislative Correspondent

Aaron Hernandez
Legislative Assistant

Technology

John Nobrega
Legislative Correspondent

Monica Pham
Legislative Assistant

Dylan Leazes
Legislative Correspondent

Telecommunications

Cooper Reveley
Legislative Assistant

Trade

Cooper Reveley
Legislative Assistant

Aaron Hernandez
Legislative Assistant

Transportation

Steven Keenan
Senior Policy Advisor

Dylan Leazes
Legislative Correspondent

Veterans

John Nobrega
Legislative Correspondent

Welfare

Moira Lenehan-Razzuri
Legislative Assistant

John Nobrega
Legislative Correspondent

Women

Jill Brimmer
Legislative Assistant

Election Results

2008 GENERAL
Jack Reed
Votes: 320,644
Percent: 73.2%
Robert Tingle
Votes: 116,174
Percent: 26.52%
2008 PRIMARY
Jack Reed
Votes: 48,038
Percent: 86.84%
Christopher Young
Votes: 7,277
Percent: 13.16%
Prior Winning Percentages
2002 (78%), 1996 (63%); House: 1994 (68%), 1992 (71%), 1990 (59%)

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