Tom Harkin

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Tom Harkin
Tom Harkin.jpg
U.S. Senator, Iowa
Former Senator
In office
PredecessorRoger W. Jepsen (R)
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 4, 2008
First electedNovember 5, 1984
Term limitsN/A
Prior offices
U.S. House of Representatives
High schoolDowling Catholic High School
Bachelor'sIowa State University
J.D.Catholic University of America
Military service
Service/branchU.S. Navy
Years of service1962-1967
Service branchU.S. Naval Reserve
Years of service1968-74
Date of birthNovember 19, 1939
Place of birthCumming, Iowa
Net worth$18,039,060.50
ReligionRoman Catholic
Thomas Richard "Tom" Harkin (b. November 19, 1939, in Cumming, IA) was previously a Democratic member of the U.S. Senate from the state of Iowa. Harkin was first elected to the Senate in 1984.[1]

On January 26, 2013, Harkin announced that he would not seek re-election once his current term expires. Upon his retirement, he will have served in the U.S. Senate for 30 years. Prior to this, he served in the U.S. House for ten years. He told USA Today, "I have mixed feelings. You know what, it's somebody else's turn. To walk away from this position and this power is not an easy thing. But I think it's the right thing."[2]

Harkin served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1975 to 1985.[1]


Harkin was born in 1939 in Cumming, IA. He earned his B.A. from Iowa State University in 1962 and his J.D. from Catholic University of America in 1972.


Below is an abbreviated outline of Harkin's career:

Harkin had a legal practice in Des Moines, served in United States Navy and Naval reserves, worked an attorney for Polk County, Iowa, Legal Aid Society in 1973 and was a member on the board of directors for the Iowa Consumers League.[3]

Committee assignments

U.S. Senate


Harkin served on the following Senate committees:[4][5]

  • Small Business and Entrepreneurship
  • Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee
    • Subcommittee on Nutrition, Specialty Crops, Food and Agricultural Research
    • Subcommittee on Conservation, Forestry and Natural Resources
    • Subcommittee on Commodities, Markets, Trade and Risk Management
  • Appropriations Committee
    • Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies
    • Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
    • Subcommittee on Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies
    • Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development
    • Subcommittee on Department of Defense
    • Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
  • Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
    • Subcommittee on Children and Families Ex Officio
    • Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging Ex Officio
    • Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety Ex Officio


Harkin served on the following Senate committees[6]:

Key votes

113th Congress


The second session of the 113th Congress enacted into law 114 out of the 3,036 introduced bills (3.8 percent). Comparatively, the 112th Congress had 4.2 percent of introduced bills enacted into law in the second session.[7] The Senate confirmed 13,949 out of 18,323 executive nominations received (76.1 percent). For more information pertaining to Harkin's voting record in the 113th Congress, please see the below sections.[8]

National security

John Brennan CIA nomination

Yea3.png Harkin voted for the confirmation of John Brennan as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The nomination was confirmed by the Senate on March 7, 2013, with a vote of 63 - 34. Most Democrats supported the nomination, while Republicans were somewhat divided with roughly one-third supporting the nomination.[9]


Source: This graphic was generated by Find The Best.

Farm bill

Yea3.png On February 4, 2014, the Democratic controlled Senate approved the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, H.R. 2642, also known as the Farm Bill.[10] It passed the Senate with a vote of 68-32. The nearly 1,000-page bill reformed and continued various programs of the Department of Agriculture through 2018. The $1 trillion bill expanded crop insurance for farmers by $7 billion over the next decade and created new subsidies for rice and peanut growers that will kick in if or when prices drop; however, cuts to the food stamp program cut an average of $90 per month for 1.7 million people in 15 states.[11] Harkin joined with 46 other Democratic senators in favor of the bill.

2014 Budget

Yea3.png On January 16, 2014, the Democratic-controlled Senate approved H.R. 3547, a $1.1 trillion spending bill to fund the government through September 30, 2014.[12][13] The Senate voted 72-26 for the 1,582 page bill, with 17 Republicans and 55 Democrats voting in favor of the bill.[13] The omnibus package included 12 annual spending bills to fund federal operations.[14] It included a 1 percent increase in the paychecks of federal workers and military personnel, a $1 billion increase in Head Start funding for early childhood education, reduced funding to the Internal Revenue Service and the Environmental Protection Agency and left the Affordable Care Act without any drastic cuts. Harkin voted with the Democratic Party in favor of the bill.[12][13]

Government shutdown

See also: United States budget debate, 2013

Yea3.png During the shutdown in October 2013, the Senate rejected, down party lines, every House-originated bill that stripped the budget of funding for the Affordable Care Act. A deal was reached late on October 16, 2013, just hours before the debt ceiling deadline. The bill to reopen the government, H.R. 2775, lifted the $16.7 trillion debt limit and funded the government through January 15, 2014. Federal employees also received retroactive pay for the shutdown period. The only concession made by Senate Democrats was to require income verification for Obamacare subsidies.[15] The final vote on H.R. 2775 was 81-18, with all 18 votes against the bill from Republican members. Harkin voted with the Democratic Party for the bill.[16]

No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013

Yea3.png Harkin voted for H.R.325 -- No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013. The bill passed the Senate on January 31, 2013, with a vote of 64 - 34. The purpose of the bill was to temporarily suspend the debt ceiling and withhold the pay of members of Congress until a budget could be passed. The vote largely followed party lines with Democrats overwhelmingly supporting it and many Republicans in opposition to the bill.[9]


Mexico-U.S. border

Neutral/Abstain Harkin did not vote on Senate Amendment 1197 -- Requires the Completion of the Fence Along the United States-Mexico Border. The amendment was rejected by the Senate on June 18, 2013, with a vote of 39 - 54. The purpose of the amendment was to require the completion of 350 miles of fence described in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 before registered provisional immigrant status may be granted. It would also require 700 miles of fence be completed before the status of registered provisional immigrants may be changed to permanent resident status. The vote followed party lines.[9]

Social issues

Violence Against Women (2013)

Yea3.png Harkin voted for S.47 -- Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. The bill was passed by the Senate on February 12, 2013, with a vote of 78 - 22. The purpose of the bill was to combat violence against women, from domestic violence to international trafficking in persons. All 22 dissenting votes were cast by Republicans.[9]

Previous congressional sessions

Fiscal Cliff

Nay3.png Harkin voted against the fiscal cliff compromise bill, which made permanent most of the Bush tax cuts originally passed in 2001 and 2003 while also raising tax rates on the highest income levels. He was one of three Democrats that voted against the bill. The bill was passed in the Senate by an 89 - 8 vote on January 1, 2013.[17]


National security

American response in Syria

See also: United States involvement in Syria

Harkin said in a statement released after a September 1, 2013, briefing of congressional leaders, “I have just attended a classified Congressional briefing on Syria that quite frankly raised more questions than it answered. I found the evidence presented by Administration officials to be circumstantial. The atrocious use of chemical weapons against civilian is an affront to human values and a violation of international law. It should be condemned by the international community as a whole. The coming debate in Congress will hopefully shine the light on outstanding questions. As will the results of the U.N. inspection team. We must wait for these results before any action is taken. What I hear from Iowans is that the Middle East has a complex history and the conflicts there will not be solved by U.S. military action alone. We should not rush into what may become a new open-ended war without broad international backing or a full understanding of the ramifications.”[18]


See also: website rollout

Harkin said of the website on November 5, 2013, “I want it fixed so the Affordable Care Act will succeed … not be torn down. There are many who have spent the past three years doing nothing but trying to tear this law down. Quite frankly, I feel they’ve kind of surrendered their right to express indignation that it’s not working flawlessly.”[19]

State of American politics

On the floor of the Senate on September 27, 2013, Harkin gave a speech describing how American politics have reached the level at which "a small group of willful men and women who have a certain ideology." Hark's comment came after the 21 hour long speech by Ted Cruz in the Senate on September 24-25, 2013.[20]

"Since they can't get their way," Harkin said, "they're going to create this confusion and discourse and hope that the public will be so mixed up in who is to blame for this, that they'll blame both sides."[20]

"It's dangerous. It's very dangerous. I believe, Mr. President, we are at one of the most dangerous points in our history right now. Every bit as dangerous as the break-up of the Union before the Civil War," Harkin added.[20]



See also: United States Senate elections in Iowa, 2014

On January 26, 2013, Harkin announced that he will not seek re-election in 2014.[21]

The FiscalTimes compiled a list of the seven most vulnerable Senate seats up for election in 2014. The seven included in the list were: Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia. Going into the 2014 election, all seven seats were held by Democrats.[22]

Harkin's decision to retire after five terms in the Senate provides a great opportunity for Republicans.[22] Rep. Bruce Braley (D) is reportedly the likeliest Democratic nominee.[22] On the Republican side, early polling indicates that conservative Rep. Steve King leads the early primary field, but Rep. Tom Latham does better in general election matchups. While there are other Republican possibilities, it seems likely that one of these two would be the front-runner for the nomination.[22]

Full history

Campaign donors

Fundraising events

The below chart from Find The Best tracks the fundraising events Harkin attends.

Source: This graphic was generated by Find The Best.

Comprehensive donor history

Comprehensive donor information for Harkin is available dating back to 2002. Based on available campaign finance records, Harkin raised a total of $17,864,005 during that time period. This information was last updated on April 3, 2013.[25]

Tom Harkin's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2008 U.S. Senate (Iowa) Won $9,179,122
2002 U.S. Senate (Iowa) Won $8,684,883
Grand Total Raised $17,864,005

Source: This graphic was generated by Find The Best.

Annual Steak-Fry Fundraiser

Harkin held his annual steak-fry fundraiser in September 2013.[26] Those in attendance included vice president Joe Biden, San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, Rep. Joaquín Castro and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.[26]

Personal Gain Index

Congressional Personal Gain Index graphic.png
See also: Personal Gain Index (U.S. Congress)

The Personal Gain Index (U.S. Congress) is a two-part measurement that illustrates the extent to which members of the U.S. Congress have prospered during their tenure as public servants.
It consists of two different metrics:

PGI: Change in net worth

See also: Changes in Net Worth of U.S. Senators and Representatives (Personal Gain Index) and Net worth of United States Senators and Representatives
Net Worth Metric graphic.png

Based on congressional financial disclosure forms and calculations made available by, Harkin's net worth as of 2012 was estimated between $12,103,118 and $23,975,003. That averages to $18,039,060.50, which is higher than the average net worth of Democratic senators in 2012 of $13,566,333. Harkin ranked as the 12th most wealthy senator in 2012.[27] Between 2004 and 2012, Harkin's calculated net worth[28] increased by an average of 58 percent per year. Between 2004 and 2012, the average annual percentage increase for a member of Congress was 15.4 percent.[29]

Tom Harkin Yearly Net Worth
YearAverage Net Worth
Growth from 2004 to 2012:461%
Average annual growth:58%[30]
Comparatively, the American citizen experienced a median yearly decline in net worth of -0.94%.[31]
The data used to calculate changes in net worth may include changes resulting from assets gained through marriage, inheritance, changes in family estates and/or trusts, changes in family business ownership and many other variables unrelated to a member's behavior in Congress.

PGI: Donation Concentration Metric

See also: The Donation Concentration Metric (U.S. Congress Personal Gain Index)

Filings required by the Federal Election Commission report on the industries that give to each candidate. Using campaign filings and information calculated by, Ballotpedia calculated the percentage of donations by industry received by each incumbent over the course of his or her career (or 1989 and later, if elected prior to 1988). In the 113th Congress, Harkin was the Chair of the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Harkin received the most donations from individuals and PACs employed by the Lawyers/Law Firms industry.

From 1989-2014, 17.33 percent of Harkin's career contributions came from the top five industries as listed below.[32]

Donation Concentration Metric graphic.png
Tom Harkin Campaign Contributions
Total Raised $37,623,607
Total Spent $35,245,787
Chair of the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Top five industries that contributed to campaign committee
Lawyers/Law Firms$2,171,166
Health Professionals$1,550,577
Securities & Investment$898,265
% total in top industry5.77%
% total in top two industries9.89%
% total in top five industries17.33%


Ideology and leadership

See also: GovTrack's Political Spectrum & Legislative Leadership ranking

Based on an analysis of bill sponsorship by GovTrack, Harkin was a "moderate Democratic leader," as of July 22, 2014. This was the same rating Harkin received in June 2013.[33]

Like-minded colleagues

The website OpenCongress tracks the voting records of each member to determine with whom he or she votes most and least often. The results include a member from each party.[34]

Harkin most often voted with:

Harkin least often voted with:

Source: This graphic was generated by Find The Best.

Lifetime voting record

See also: Lifetime voting records of United States Senators and Representatives

According to the website GovTrack, Harkin missed 386 of 9,968 roll call votes from January 1985 to July 2014. This amounts to 3.9 percent, which is worse than the median of 2.0% among currently serving senators as of August 2014.[35]

Congressional staff salaries

See also: Staff salaries of United States Senators and Representatives

The website Legistorm compiles staff salary information for members of Congress. Harkin paid his congressional staff a total of $2,814,112 in 2011. He ranked 18th on the list of the highest paid Democratic senatorial staff salaries and ranked 21st overall of the highest paid senatorial staff salaries in 2011. Overall, Iowa ranked 26th in average salary for senatorial staff. The average U.S. Senate congressional staff was paid $2,529,141.70 in fiscal year 2011.[36]

National Journal vote ratings

See also: National Journal vote ratings

Each year National Journal publishes an analysis of how liberally or conservatively each member of Congress voted in the previous year.


Harkin ranked 26th in the liberal rankings in 2013.[37]


Harkin ranked 15th in the liberal rankings in 2012.[38]


Harkin ranked 5th in the liberal rankings in 2011.[39]

Voting with party

The website OpenCongress tracks how often members of Congress vote with the majority of the chamber caucus.


Harkin voted with the Democratic Party 95.6 percent of the time, which ranked 25th among the 53 Senate Democratic members as of July 2014.[40]


Harkin voted with the Democratic Party 96.1 percent of the time, which ranked 18th among the 52 Senate Democratic members as of June 2013.[41]


Harkin has been married to his wife Ruth (nee Raduenz) since 1968. They have two daughters and three grandchildren.[42]

Recent news

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All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Tom Harkin News Feed

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See also

External links

Political Tracker has an article on:
Thomas Harkin


  1. 1.0 1.1 Bioguide, "Tom Harkin," accessed June 21, 2013
  2. USA Today, "Iowa Sen. Harkin will not seek re-election," accessed January 26, 2013
  3. Biographical Guide to Members of Congress, "Thomas Richard Harkin," accessed October 18, 2011
  4. Congressional Quarterly, "Senate Committee List," accessed January 18, 2013
  5. United States Senate, "Tom Harkin Committee Assignments," accessed March 29, 2014 (dead link)
  6. Official Senate website, "Committees page," accessed October 18, 2011
  7. Congressional Record, "Resume of Congressional Activity, First Session of the 112th Congress," accessed September 5, 2013
  8. Congressional Record, "Resume of Congressional Activity, Second Session of the 113th Congress," accessed March 4, 2014
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Project Vote Smart, "Tom Harkin Key Votes," accessed October 16, 2013
  10., "H.R. 2642 (Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013)," accessed February 12, 2014
  11. NY Times, "Senate Passes Long-Stalled Farm Bill, With Clear Winners and Losers," accessed February 12, 2014
  12. 12.0 12.1 Politico, "Senate approves $1.1 trillion spending bill," accessed January 20, 2014
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 U.S. Senate, "January 16 Vote," accessed January 20, 2014
  14. Roll Call, "House Passes $1.1 Trillion Omnibus," accessed January 20, 2014
  15. The Washington Post, "Reid, McConnell propose bipartisan Senate bill to end shutdown, extend borrowing," accessed October 16, 2013
  16., "H.R. 2775 As Amended," accessed October 31, 2013
  17. U.S. Senate, "Roll Call Vote on the Fiscal Cliff," accessed January 4, 2013
  18. Des Moines Register, "Harkin urges caution on Syria military action," accessed September 2, 2013
  19. Des Moines Register, "Harkin: I want fixed so Obamacare will succeed," accessed November 5, 2013
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 National Journal, "Senator Says Politics Have Reached Civil War Levels," accessed October 9, 2013
  21. Associated Press, "Harkin won't seek 6th senate term," accessed January 2013
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 Fiscal Times, "7 Senate Seats Most at Risk—Hint: They’re All Blue," accessed February 15, 2013
  23. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 5, 2002," accessed March 28, 2013
  24. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 5, 1996," accessed March 28, 2013
  25. Open Secrets, "Tom Harkin," accessed April 3, 2013
  26. 26.0 26.1 Des Monies Register, "Video: What you need to know about the Harkin Steak Fry," accessed October 9, 2013
  27. OpenSecrets, "Harkin, (D-IA), 2012," accessed February 18, 2014
  28. This figure represents the total percentage growth from either 2004 (if the member entered office in 2004 or earlier) or their first year in office (as noted in the chart below).
  29. This number was found by dividing each member's total net worth growth percentage by the number of years included in the calculation.
  30. This figure represents the total percentage growth divided by the number of years for which there are net worth figures for each member.
  31. This figure was calculated using median asset data from the Census Bureau. Please see the Congressional Net Worth data for Ballotpedia spreadsheet for more information on this calculation.
  32., "Sen. Tom Harkin," accessed September 18, 2014
  33. GovTrack, "Tom Harkin," accessed July 22, 2014
  34. OpenCongress, "Rep. Tom Harkin," accessed July 22, 2014
  35. GovTrack, "Tom Harkin," accessed July 22, 2014
  36. LegiStorm, "Tom Harkin," accessed 2012
  37. National Journal, "2013 Senate Vote Ratings," accessed July 22, 2014
  38. National Journal, "2012 Congressional Vote Ratings," accessed February 28, 2013
  39. National Journal, "Searchable Vote Ratings Tables: Senate," accessed February 23, 2012
  40. OpenCongress, "Voting With Party," accessed July 2014
  41. OpenCongress, "Voting With Party," accessed July 2014
  42. Official Senate website, "Biography," accessed October 18, 2011 (dead link)
Political offices
Preceded by
Roger Jepsen
U.S. Senate - Iowa
Succeeded by
Joni Ernst (R)
Preceded by
U.S. House - Iowa
Succeeded by