Jack Reed (D-R.I.)

U.S. Senator (since January 1997)

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Why He Matters

Reed is small in stature and not well-known outside the halls of the Capitol, but he is a giant on the Hill. After a military career and a short stint as a lawyer, Reed entered elected politics at the age of 35. Twenty-five years later he's a leading housing expert and one of the Senate's major voices on military issues.

Reed enjoys a close friendship with President Barack Obama and was mentioned as a possible selection for both vice president and secretary of Defense. Reed was not chosen for either position, a decision that was made with the knowledge that Rhode Island's Republican governor would name a replacement.

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At a Glance

  • Career History: U.S. Representative (1990 to 1996); Rhode Island State Senator (1984 to 1990); Practicing Attorney (1982 to 1990)
  • Birthday: Nov. 12, 1949
  • Hometown: Cranston, R.I.
  • Alma Mater: U.S. Military Academy, West Point, B.S., 1971; Harvard University, J.D., 1982
  • Spouse: Julia Hart
  • Committees: Appropriations ; Armed Services ; Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs
  • Religion: Catholic

Path to Power

Born and raised in working class Cranston, R.I.,, the Senator is the second son of Mary Monahan and Joseph Reed, a former janitor who worked his way up to become custodial supervisor in the city's school system.

After attending LaSalle Academy in Providence, Reed was accepted into West Point in 1967. Upon graduating in 1971 he attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University where he received a Masters of Public Policy. Reed went on to serve as a platoon leader, company commander and battalion staff officer in the 82nd Airborne Division.

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The Issues

Though Reed has had to fight the label of Northeastern liberal, for much of his political career, the fact remains that he is from the Northeast and his record is solidly liberal. In the 110th Congress, he voted with the Democratic party 95.7 percent of the time.

In his 12 years in the Senate, Reed has emerged as a strong voice on military issues and as one of a few members of Congress with military experience. Despite his support of President Bush's efforts to tackle the Taliban after Sept. 11, 2001, Reed voted against the 2002 Iraq war resolution and remained an emphatic opponent of that war.

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The Network

A House member for six years before becoming senator, Reed's political connections run deep in Washington and, with his time in the Army, even deeper in West Point.

In the Senate, Reed's closest ally is Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) with whom he serves on the Senate Banking Committee. Reed is also a friend of President Obama, a relationship that grew when they traveled to Iraq.

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