Born In: Montpelier, Vermont, United States
Patrick Leahy is an American politician and attorney who is the senior United States senator from Vermont, as well as the president pro tempore of the United States Senate. He was the first ever Democrat to be elected to the Senate from Vermont, in 1974 and has since been undefeated in the seat. He is currently serving his eighth term, which will be his final term as he has announced not seeking a re-election. He served as the chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee from 1987 to 1995. He served as the ranking member of the Appropriations Committee from 2017 to 2021 and became its chairman in 2021. He has been the dean of the United States Senate, the senator with the longest continuous service, since December 2012 and became the most senior member of Congress following the death of Representative Don Young's in March 2022. He is the last of the Senate's "Watergate Babies” – Democrats first elected to Congress following President Richard Nixon's resignation.
Also Known As: Patrick Joseph Leahy
Spouse/Ex-: Marcelle Pomerleau (m. 1962)
father: Howard Francis Leahy
children: Alicia Jackson, Kevin Leahy, Mark Leahy
Born Country: United States
Notable Alumni: Saint Michael's College
U.S. State: Vermont
education: Georgetown University Saint Michael's College
Patrick Joseph Leahy was born on March 31, 1940 in Montpelier, Vermont, United States to Alba and Howard Francis Leahy. His family moved to the state in the 19th century to work at the granite quarries and manufacturing plants and later established a printing business which published the Waterbury Record newspaper.
He attended the parochial schools of Montpelier and graduated from Montpelier's St. Michael's High School in 1957 before going to Saint Michael's College, from where he completed his bachelor’s degree in government in 1961.
He later received his Juris Doctor from the Georgetown University Law Center, where he was a member of the Phi Delta Phi legal honor society and was a representative to the school's Student Bar Association.
Patrick Leahy was admitted to the bar following his graduation and became an associate at the Burlington firm headed by Philip H. Hoff, who was serving as governor of Vermont. He was appointed as an assistant to Lewis E. Springer Jr., the legislative draftsman for the Vermont General Assembly, in January 1965, and later as Burlington's assistant city attorney.
After State's Attorney of Chittenden County John Fitzpatrick resigned in May 1966, he was appointed to complete the former’s unexpired term and was elected to full terms in 1966 and in 1970. In this capacity, he participated in the sting operation that caught Paul Lawrence, an undercover police officer who made false claims of purchasing illegal drugs from several people.
While he had aspirations to be governor of Vermont, after a seat opened up in U.S. Senate in the wake of the Watergate scandal, he decided to run for Senate in 1974. He succeeded George Aiken by defeating Republican Congressman Richard W. Mallary in a close race and became the youngest senator in Vermont history at 34 and the first non-Republican senator from Vermont since 1856.
He won a reelection in 1980 against Republican opponent Stewart Ledbetter with a narrow margin of only 2,700 at a time when Ronald Reagan secured a landslide victory in the presidential election. He faced an even stronger challenger, former Governor Richard Snelling, in 1986, but was able to secure reelection with 63 percent vote.
He was reelected for a fourth term in 1992, even though his vote share was reduced to 54 percent against Secretary of State of Vermont Jim Douglas. Since then, he has not faced a strong Republican challenger and has retained the seat for four more terms in 1998, 2004, 2010 and 2016, but will not seek reelection in 2022.
Leahy was appointed chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee in January 1987. Shortly after, he resigned as vice-chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for showing unclassified draft report on the Iran–Contra affair to a news reporter.
He actively supported the international effort to ban the production, export, and use of anti-personnel land mines and had written the first law by any government to ban the export of such weapons in 1992. To aid mine victims, he campaigned to set up a special fund in the foreign aid budget, the Leahy War Victims Fund, which provides up to $14 million of relief each year.
In November 1993, he voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement, aimed at merging the U.S., Canada, and Mexico into a single free trade zone, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. In 1999, he voted for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, designed to ban underground nuclear testing, which was the first major international security pact to be defeated in the Senate since the Treaty of Versailles.
In the wake of the September 11 attacks, as American foreign policy shifted focus to terrorism, he added checks and balances to the 2001 anti-terrorism bill to protect civil liberties. He criticized the government for accelerating “its power plays at the expense of the other branches of government, all in the name of fighting terrorism” and for breaking the law by wiretapping Americans without warrants.
He was one of two Democratic senators targeted in the 2001 anthrax attacks one week after 9/11, even though the letter meant for him was intercepted before it reached his office. Regarded as one of the leading privacy advocates in Congress, he received the Electronic Privacy Information Center's Champion of Freedom Award in 2004 for his efforts in information privacy and open government.
In 2006, he led the Judiciary Committee’s investigation into the mass firings of U.S. Attorneys and the White House’s attempts to exert political influence over the Justice Department. Early next year, he received widespread coverage for his cross-examination of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, which eventually led to the latter’s resignation.
Following the death of Senate President pro tempore Daniel Inouye in 2012, he became the most senior senator in the majority party and was elected president pro tempore by unanimous consent. He was named the most "Net-friendly" member of Congress by a magazine, and known as a leader on Internet and technology issues, he was the second senator to post a homepage.
Patrick Leahy was 19 when he met and immediately fell for Marcelle Pomerleau, two years his junior, at a summer party on the shores of Lake Champlain, and married her three years later in 1962. He mentioned that he values his wife’s counsel on health issues as she is a registered nurse who serves on the board of the Prevent Cancer Foundation.
The couple, who has been married for six decades, shares three children – Alicia Jackson, Mark Leahy, and Kevin Leahy – and at least five grandchildren
In June 2022, he underwent emergency hip replacement surgery after falling at his home and fracturing his hip, while his wife was previously treated for a chronic form of adult leukemia.
A huge comics fan, particularly Batman, Patrick Leahy wrote the foreword to The Dark Knight Archives, Volume 1 (1992) and the preface for the 1996 graphic novel Batman: Death of Innocents, about horrors of landmines. He subsequently had an uncredited cameo in Batman Forever (1995), voiced a territorial governor in the Batman: The Animated Series, and has appeared as himself and other characters in several Batman movies.
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