Chris Dodd was first elected to the United States Senate in 1980 to replace retiring Senator and former Connecticut Governor Abe Ribicoff. Having won a seat in the House of Representatives just six years earlier as part of the Democratic wave that swept through Congress as a result of the Watergate scandal, Chris Dodd entered the Senate in January of 1981 under a very different set of circumstances. Not only had Ronald Reagan unseated Democratic President Jimmy Carter, but Republicans had taken control of the Senate for the first time in decades.
Since that election, the balance of power in Washington has shifted back and forth between both parties, with Democrats and Republicans each taking control of, and subsequently losing, the White House and Congress at varying intervals. But in spite of the relatively constant pace of change that defines political life in our nation’s capital, Senator Dodd has accomplished a great deal for the people of his state and nation during his tenure in the Senate, proving to be an effective legislator regardless of which party held the reins of power. He understands the importance of reaching across party lines to find common goals and shared ideals and uses those bonds to create public policy that benefits all Americans.
Over the last thirty years, Senator Dodd has earned a well-deserved reputation as the “Children’s Senator” by being a tireless champion for quality education and affordable health care for kids. He has fought tirelessly for the rights of American consumers against the unscrupulous practices of some financial institutions; for a balanced approach to U.S. foreign policy centered on partnership and diplomacy; and for the economic, environmental, and infrastructure needs of the people of Connecticut. Senator Dodd has also distinguished himself as a relentless defender of the right to vote in this country, having authored and helped pass the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002, which established significant new rights, responsibilities, and resources for the administration of federal elections. He has won an impressive array of legislative victories on these and numerous other policy fronts. And he has done so precisely because of his extensive knowledge of the Senate as an institution—its rules, quirks, and key players.
Moreover, while he has always remained true to his principles, Senator Dodd has never shied away from reaching across the partisan divide to help pass critically important legislation for the people of Connecticut and the nation. Indeed, Senator Dodd has cultivated close working relationships with members of both houses, Democrat and Republican alike, throughout his five terms in office. And Senator Dodd’s ability to reach across the aisle and find common ground with Senators with whom, ideologically speaking, he often has very little in common, has also played an important role in helping to advance his legislative agenda and the priorities of the Connecticut people over the years.
A key participant in nearly every major national policy debate that has taken place over the past three decades, Senator Dodd took on an even more expansive role in the Senate recently with the enactment of several major pieces of legislation that are historic in the scope of their benefits for the American people. Senator Dodd played a decisive role in making significant health care reform a reality by working to ensure passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This landmark bill will go a long way towards reducing the cost of health care in this country, preventing insurers from denying or dropping coverage to those in need, and ensuring access to quality and affordable health care for all Americans.
In addition to his successful efforts to reform our nation’s health care system, Senator Dodd worked tirelessly, in the face of considerable Republican opposition, to pass the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. This historic measure, crafted by Senator Dodd in the wake of one of the worst economic recessions our country has ever faced, creates new rules of the road for financial firms to help reign in unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices used by some banks and lenders, prevent future tax-payer funded bailouts of Wall Street firms, and return to a system where consumers feel safe and secure when making their financial decisions.
Before he began work to overhaul the rules and regulations that Wall Street firms must now live by, Senator Dodd used his role as the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee to create robust new protections for American consumers from deceptive and unscrupulous practices used by many credit card companies. Thanks to Senator Dodd, credit card companies will no longer be able to increase your card’s interest for little or no reason and with little or no notice, and consumers will be provided with clear and concise explanations of the terms they are agreeing to.
But while these most recent legislative victories are incredibly significant, it is important to remember that Senator Dodd has spent the better part of a lifetime working on these very same issues. He has been a fighter for consumers, workers, children and families since Day 1 of his service on Capitol Hill. And it is that singular dedication to improving and enriching the lives of all Americans that he will most be remembered for when he leaves office in January.