Joe Courtney (D-Conn.)

U.S. Representative (since January 2007)

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Why He Matters

Courtney's second challenge to then-Rep. Rob Simmons (R-Conn.) was the tightest congressional race of 2006. After emerging victorious by just 83 votes, the Democrat was elected to represent Connecticut's 2nd Congressional District, which contains the state's eastern half, including the cities of New London and Norwich.

Courtney had held elected office before. He served as a state representative from 1986 to 1994, earning a reputation as an expert on issues relating to health-care. As the chair of the Public Health and Human Service Committees and of Connecticut's Commission on Universal Health Insurance, he played a leading role in efforts to reform the state's health-care system in the early 1990s.

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Joe Courtney gets in spat with Tony Kushner over 'Lincoln'

Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) has pronounced himself "pleased" that "Lincoln" screenwriter Tony Kushner has acknowledged an ahistorical moment in the acclaimed film.


States increasing home heating assistance to avoid cuts in food stamps

(Seth Wenig / AP)

By spending a few million on heating assistance, Conn. and N.Y. escape much more in SNAP reductions.


Joe Courtney (D-Conn.)

U.S. Representative (since January 2007)


At a Glance

  • Career History: Practicing attorney (1978-2006); Connecticut House of Representatives (1986-1994)
  • Birthday: April 6, 1953
  • Hometown: Hartford, Conn.
  • Alma Mater: Tufts University, B.A., 1975; University of Connecticut, J.D., 1978
  • Spouse: Audrey Courtney
  • Religion: Catholic
  • Committees: Education and Labor Committee , Armed Services Committee
  • DC Office: 215 Cannon House Office Building, 202-225-2076
  • District Offices: Norwich, 860-886-0139; Enfield, 860-741-6011
  • Web site

Path To Power

The son of a formerFBI agent, Courtney was raised in West Hartford. He graduated from Tufts University in 1975 before obtaining a J.D. from the University of Connecticut Law School in 1978. He first worked as a public defender before entering private practice in 1981.

In 1986, he was elected state representative in Vernon. He gained a reputation as the legislature's leading voice on issues relating to health care. He chaired the Human Services Committee from 1989 to 1992 and the Public Health Committee from 1993 to 1994, and he also headed Connecticut's Blue Ribbon Commission on Universal Health Insurance - positions from which he championed a number of bills reforming the state health-care system.

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The Issues

Courtney's district contains a U.S. Navy submarine base and a major construction site used by the Electric Boat Corporation to build submarines. As such, the Democrat has walked in Simmons' footsteps to become a leading advocate for submarine construction, which he argues is essential for his district's economy.

Helped by his seat on the House Armed Services Committee, Courtney has worked closely with Electric Boat management and fellow Connecticut lawmakers to achieve his goal: Double the production of submarines from one to two a year. In the fall of 2007, Courtney and his allies convincedCongress to include $588 million more for submarines than the Pentagon wanted in the 2008 defense bill.

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The Network

Courtney is a member of the New Democratic Coalition, a group of centrist lawmakers that provides him an important circle of allies; four of Connecticut's five representatives belong to this caucus.


Additional Resources

  1. Benson, Judy, "A good bill? Depends on whom you ask: Controversial legislation to overhaul health care is going to mean different things to different people," The Day, March 23, 2010
  2. NRA Press release, "Rep. Brad Ellsworth Introduces Amendment to Address Resale of Once-Fired Small Arms Cartridge Cases", May 19, 2010
  3. Lynsen, Joshua, "New Dems mixed on gay issues ," The New York Blade, November 20, 2006
  4. Altimari, Daniela, "Health care tax opposed; U.S. Rep. Courtney calls proposal 'flawed'," Hartford Courant, October 3, 2009 and Dayen, David, "Rep. Joe Courtney: I Have 190 Democrats Against the Tax On "Cadillac" Health Insurance Plans," Firedoglake, January 6, 2010
  5. Tiron, Roxana, "Courtney gets Democrats' support on submarines," The Hill, March 7, 2007 and Hamilton, Jesse, "Joe Courtney dives into fight for," Hartford Courant, February 26, 2007
  6. Keating, Christopher, "Simmons, Courtney differ pointedly," Hartford Courant, October 8, 2002 and Keating, Christopher, "Debate defines issues," Hartford Courant, October 14, 2002
  7. Altimari, Daniela, "Debate In 2nd: Again, Iraq," The Hartford Courant, September 19, 2006 and Altimari, Daniela, "Courtney presses on Iraq," Hartford Courant, September 13, 2006
  8. Thomas, List of co-sponsors
  9. Pazniokas, Mark, "The lone dissenter: Courtney's vote against rescue plan largely in sync with constituents' feelings," Hartford Courant, October 1, 2008 and Urban Peter, "Members of Conn. Congressional delegation defend bailout votes", Greenwich Times, October 3, 2008
  10. Dankosky, John, "Joe Courtney on Lieberman, Health Care and Senate," WNPR, December 22nd, 2010
  11. Howard, Lee, "Proposed measure would help workers with chronic illnesses keep insurance," The Day, July 20, 2007
  12. Spencer-Molloy , Frank, "Universal coverage is state issue, too," Hartford Courant, March 8, 1994 and Spencer-Molloy, Frank, "House passes health care reform bill - again," Hartford Courant, May 20, 1994
  13. Altimari, Daniela, "Debate In 2nd: Again, Iraq," The Hartford Courant, September 19, 2006
  14. Thomas, list of co-sponsors
  15. Daly, Matthew, "Rell, Courtney, relish roles as candidates' second fiddles," Hartford Courant, October 31, 1998 and Keating, Christopher, "Simmons, Courtney, differ pointedly," Hartford Courant, October 8, 2002
  16. Hamilton, Jesse, "Submarine industry wins a budget battle," Hartford Courant, November 14, 2007 and Hamilton, Jesse, "Courtney works to be more than 'sub guy'," Hartford Courant, March 30, 2008
  17. Lightman, David, "Petraeus unlikely to sway opinions," Hartford Courant, September 10, 2007
  18. Keating, Christopher, "Debate defines issues," Hartford Courant, October 14, 2002
  19. Roll call vote
  20. Thomas, List of co-sponsors
  21. Roll call vote
  22. Keveney, Bill and Williams, Larry, "Hospital cost control passes in House vote," Hartfort Courant, June 3, 1993 and Hernandez, Raymond, "In Democrats' Haven, Connecticut Republican Faces Fight," The New York Times, October 25, 2006
  23. Altimari, Daniela, "Courtney presses on Iraq," Hartford Courant, September 13, 2006 and Lightman, David, "Petraeus unlikely to sway opinions," Hartford Courant, September 10, 2007