Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.)

U.S. Senator (since January 1987)

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(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Why He Matters

Considered one of the most reliably conservative Republicans in the U.S. Senate, Shelby has never been afraid to speak his mind. In some cases, it's gotten the well-known contrarian into trouble.

Shelby played a key role in the 111th Congress, despite being in the Senate minority. He was the ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee and a key opponent of the $700 billion bailout package that passed Congress and was signed by President Bush in fall 2008. He also was a leading foe of bailing out the auto industry. In May 2009, after General Motors announced plans for a restructuring agreement under bankruptcy protection, potentially giving the federal government 72.5 percent stake in the car company, Shelby said the move puts Washington on "the road to socialism."

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Why COSMIC-2 is a lot more than ‘nice to have’

Last week Sen. Richard Shelby remarked that observations from the satellite constellation COSMIC-2 are only “nice to have.” Nothing could be further from the truth.


In Congress, committee chairmen head for the exits but some lawmakers still want the job

(Rogelio V. Solis / AP)

Sen. Thad Cochran could have retired this year, but he wants another shot at being a committee chairman.

Switching parties isn’t a winning bet. It’s (almost always) political desperation.

Allen Iverson had a sweet crossover. It’s been harder to pull off in politics, recent history shows.


Shelby on Dodd-Frank, Jamie Dimon Testimony

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican, talks about the prospects for financial regulation following the $2 billion trading loss by JPMorgan Chase & Co. Shelby, speaking to Megan Hughes on Bloomberg Television's "Bottom Line,” also discusses the outlook for testimony by Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan, before the Senate Banking Committee next month. (Source: Bloomberg)


As state prepares appeal, Utah same-sex couples rush to wed

A federal judge has allowed gay marriage in Utah to continue, making Utah the 18th state plus the District of Columbia where gay and lesbian couples can marry.


Shelby on Senate Banking Hearing, JPMorgan, Fed

June 6 (Bloomberg) – U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, a Republican from Alabama, talks about today’s Senate Banking Committee hearing with federal regulators on JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s $2 billion trading loss and the outlook for congressional testimony by the bank’s Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon. Shelby, speaking with Megan Hughes on Bloomberg Television’s “Bottom Line,” also discusses Europe’s debt crisis and the prospects for Federal Reserve policy. (Source: Bloomberg)


Shelby Says He Will Not Support Debt-Limit Agreement

Aug. 2 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, talks about today's Senate vote on the U.S. debt-limit agreement. Shelby speaks on Bloomberg Television's "InBusiness With Margaret Brennan." (Source: Bloomberg)


Landrieu, new chair of Senate energy panel, may raise some environmentalists’ eyebrows

(Mandel Ngan / AFP/Getty Images)

The Louisiana Democrat taking over the committee is closer to the oil and gas industry than most in her party.


At a Glance

  • Career History: Special Assistant to U.S. Attorney General (1969 to 1971); U.S. Magistrate (1966 to 1970); City Prosecutor, Tuscaloosa (1963 to 1971)
  • Birthday: May 6, 1934
  • Hometown: Tuscaloosa, Ala.
  • Alma Mater: University of Alabama, B.A., 1957; University of Alabama, LL.B, 1963
  • Spouse: Annette
  • Religion: Presbyterian
  • DC Office: 110 House Senate Office Building, 202-224-5744
  • State Office: Birmingham, 256-731-1384; Huntsville, 256-772-0460; Mobile, 251-694-4164; Montgomery, 334-223-7303; Tuscaloosa, 205-759-5047
  • Web site
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Path To Power

Born May 6, 1934, in Birmingham, Ala., Shelby was the son of Alice L. Skinner and Ozie Houston Shelby, a steelworker. He attended the University of Alabama, graduating with a bachelor's degree in journalism in 1957 and a law degree in 1963.

Shelby was admitted to the Alabama Bar in 1961 and started a law practice in his hometown of Tuscaloosa, Ala., in 1963 with the late Walter Flowers, who later was a conservative Democratic congressman. In 1966, Shelby was appointed U.S. commissioner for the northern district of Alabama and, in 1970, he was elected as a Democrat to the Alabama state Senate.

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The Issues

A gun control and abortion-rights opponent, Shelby votes moderately Republican but strays on some key issues. Shelby was the only Senate Republican to vote against the deregulation of the financial services sector in 1999 and he has opposed plans to limit damage awards from lawsuits. A member of the Appropriations Committee and the Special Committee on Aging, Shelby opposes gay marriage, supports drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge and is a proponent of the flat tax.

He has also called for greater oversight of the FBI; increased coverage and borrowing authority for flood victims in light of Hurricane Katrina; and supported many Bush administration anti-terrorism policies, including the monitoring of private financial transactions.

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The Network

Campaign finance disclosure reports show that Shelby has given thousands of dollars, through his Tuscaloosa-based Defend America political action committee, to his Republican colleagues. Shelby was also a member of the Boll Weevils, a group of Reagan-supporting, conservative Democrats in the 1970s and 80s, along with longtime former Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas).

Several of Shelby's former chiefs of staff have gone on to other prominent roles in government.

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Additional Resources

  1. The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/03/washington/03cong.html
  2. "Shelby assails large gov't role in General Motors," Associated Press, May 29, 2009
  3. Kamen, Al. "Ship Abandons Crew," The Washington Post, 11 Nov. 1994.
  4. Brady, Dennis and Applebaum, Binyamin, The Washington Post, "Dodd, Shelby hit impasse, imperiling financial system legislation," Feb. 6, 2010
  5. Achenbach, Joel. "The Day After," The Washington Post, 10 November 1994.
  6. Almanac of American Politics, 2008 edition
  7. Drew, Elizabeth. "There Goes Sprintin' Clinton," The Washington Post, 4 April 1993
  8. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122221038063668953.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
  9. Stand With Doctor Dean web site
  10. The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/09/washington/09shelby.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1
  11. Lengel, Allan; Priest, Dana. "Investigators Concluded Shelby Leaked Message," The Washington Post, 5 Aug. 2004.
  12. CNN.com, "Stimulus Will Lead to Disaster," Feb. 8, 2009
  13. http://shelby.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressRoom.NewsReleases&ContentRecord_id=d324c3f9-802a-23ad-4764-d3e83b01d3dc&Region_id=&Issue_id=&County_id=.
  14. Staff reports. "Aide To Sen. Shelby Wounded In Stanton Park Shooting," The Washington Post, 14 January 1992
  15. Reilly, Sean, Alabama Press Register, "Senate leader: Richard Shelby blocking action on executive branch nominations," Feb. 4, 2010
  16. McMorris-Santoro, Evan, Talking Points Memo, Feb, 5, 2010
  17. http://shelby.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressRoom.NewsReleases&ContentRecord_id=d324c3f9-802a-23ad-4764-d3e83b01d3dc&Region_id=&Issue_id=&County_id=