John Kerry

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John Kerry
John Kerry.jpg
U.S. Secretary of State
In office
February 1, 2013-Present
Elections and appointments
NominatedDecember 21, 2012
ConfirmedJanuary 29, 2013
AppointedFebruary 1, 2013
Appointed byBarack Obama
Prior offices
United States Senator
1985-February 1, 2013
Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts
Bachelor'sYale University
J.D.Boston College
Military service
Service/branchU.S. Navy
Years of service1966-1970
CitationsSilver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart (3)
Date of birthDecember 11, 1943
Place of birthAurora, Colorado
ReligionRoman Catholic
Office website
John Kerry (b. December 11, 1943, in Aurora, Colorado) is the current U.S. Secretary of State of America. Kerry was confirmed by the Senate on January 29, 2013, by a vote of 94-3.[1] He then resigned his seat in the U.S. Senate, where he served as a Democratic member of the U.S. Senate from 1985-2013, representing Massachusetts.[1][2] Kerry has been in public service since first running for office in 1972.[3]


While Kerry was born in Aurora, Colorado, his family moved to Massachusetts when he was young. He was accepted to and graduated from Yale University. Kerry then volunteered for the U.S. Navy and served two tours of duty in Vietnam. He earned a Silver Star, Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts.[4] After Kerry unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Congress in 1972, he joined the district attorney's office and earned his J.D. from Boston College.[5] He served as lieutenant governor of Massachusetts under Governor Michael Dukakis before winning election to the United States Senate in 1984.[6]


Below is an abbreviated outline of Kerry's academic, professional and political career:[7]

Confirmation vote

Kerry was confirmed as the Secretary of State on January 29, 2013, by a vote of 94-3. The notable votes included three Republicans who voted against the confirmation: Ted Cruz (R-TX), John Cornyn (R-TX) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK). Kerry voted present.[8] He replaced Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.

John Kerry confirmation vote, January 29, 2013
Party Votes for Approveda Votes against Defeatedd Total votes
Democratic Party Democrats 48 0 48
Republican Party Republicans 46 3 49
Independent Independents 0 0 0
Total Votes 94 3 97

Secretary of State term initiatives


Executive Departments of the United States

Executive Departments
Department of DefenseDepartment of StateDepartment of Homeland SecurityDepartment of JusticeDepartment of CommerceDepartment of EducationDepartment of the TreasuryDepartment of AgricultureDepartment of EnergyDepartment of LaborDepartment of TransportationDepartment of the InteriorDepartment of Health and Human ServicesDepartment of Veterans AffairsDepartment of Housing and Urban Development

Department Secretaries
Ashton CarterJohn KerryJeh JohnsonLoretta LynchPenny PritzkerArne DuncanJack LewTom VilsackErnest MonizTom PerezAnthony FoxxSally JewellSylvia Mathews BurwellRobert McDonaldJulian Castro

Obama administration

ISIS in Iraq

See also: ISIS insurgency in Iraq and Syria

Kerry explained on June 16, 2014, that the United States would be willing to listen if Iran wanted to help end the violence against Iraq's government by the terrorist group, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). He stated, "We're open to discussions if there is something constructive that can be contributed by Iran, if Iran is prepared to do something that is going to respect the integrity and sovereignty of Iraq and ability of the government to reform."[9] Kerry noted August 12, 2014 talks with Australian Defense Minister David Johnston aimed at working out the provision of humanitarian aid to parts of Iraq, as well as developing a plan on how to handle fighting jihadists who wish to return to their home countries following the war.[10]

Kerry told reporters on August 13, 2014, U.S. military personnel were looking into the idea of a rescue operation to get the trapped Yazidis being held on a mountain in Iraq. He stated, "Well, that's exactly what we're assessing," Kerry responded. "This is precisely what the team that [President Obama] sent in is prepared to do. We will make a very rapid and critical assessment, because we understand it's urgent to try and move those people off the mountain. And I hope we can have more to report in short order."[11] A combination of United States air strikes and Kurdish forces allowed the Yazidis to escape the Sinjar Mountains on August 14, 2014. It was initially thought that U.S. ground forces might be used in the rescue operation, but following a reconnaissance mission by U.S. military advisers, it was determined that U.S. troops were not necessary.[12]

New Iraqi cabinet

Kerry offered his support to Haider al-Abadi, a potential replacement for Prime Minister al-Maliki, on August 12, 2014, after the president of Iraq demanded he step down. He stated that the U.S. would support the new government regime in different ways, but he drew the line with the topic of sending troops back, claiming, "There will be no reintroduction of American combat forces into Iraq. Nobody, I think, is looking forwards to a return to the road that we’ve travelled."

On September 8, 2014, a new cabinet was established in Iraq under Prime Minister al-Abadi, which allowed the government to move forward in establishing plans against ISIS.[13] U.S. Secretary Kerry spoke highly of the move, insisting it had "the potential to unite all of Iraq’s diverse communities."[14]

Coalition building

Kerry was to meet with Middle East diplomats on September 11, 2014, in order to establish the coalition, though it was not believed to be an easy sell to those countries. Included in the countries visiting with Kerry in Saudi Arabia were Turkey, Qatar, Jordan, United Arab Emirates and Egypt.[15]

Gaza peace talks

On July 25, 2014, Kerry proposed a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas to ease the violence in the Gaza Strip. Kerry's proposal involved a seven day cease-fire backed by the United Nations, which would halt the offensive and possibly allow for the release of some Palestinian prisoners by the Israeli army. However, Israel's former ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, noted, "if the cease-fire proposal calls for a five- or a seven-day cease-fire that enables Hamas to regroup, reestablish its communication systems and replenish its ammunition, then I don’t think Israel will accept that."[16]

Later on July 25, Kerry announced that the cease-fire agreement he proposed was not accepted by the two sides, and Israel's ground forces were likely to "significantly" ramp up their offensive. Kerry did suggest a much smaller 12-hour cease-fire which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "indicated his willingness to do that as a good faith down payment to move forward." However hope was held that an agreement would be reached in the near future with Kerry stating, "Gaps have been significantly narrowed. It can be achieved, if we work through some of the issues that are important for the parties."[17]

Violence in Libya

Kerry condemned violent attacks by Libyan militias on November 15, 2013, that left 31 protesters dead and more than 200 injured. He released a statement, saying, "If a free people are going to succeed in forging a peaceful, secure, and prosperous country with a government based on the rule of law and respect for human rights, then there can be no place for this kind of violence in the new Libya."[18]

Iran sanctions

Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew scheduled a briefing on October 29, 2013, with the Senate Banking Committee over nuclear talks with Iran, as the Senate considered new sanctions. Kerry and Lew testified on behalf of the Obama administration in order to push for the ability to waive sanctions depending on nuclear talks. The House passed a version of the bill with stronger sanctions in July 2013.[19] According to a State Department spokesperson, "while we understand that Congress may consider new sanctions, we think this is a time for a pause, as we asked for in the past, to see if negotiations can gain traction."[20]

Iran agreed to an interim deal that Kerry stated, "halts the progress of Iran’s nuclear program and rolls its back in certain places," in exchange for the United States giving $7 billion in sanctions relief. In a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on December 10, 2013, Kerry stated, "Iran’s nuclear programs will not move forward." Pushback came on the six month agreement from both sides of the aisle. Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel said, "I have serious reservations about the agreement," while Republican Rep. Ed Royce claimed that by allowing Iran to continue to enrich uranium under the deal, "we may have bargained away our fundamental position."[21]


See also: United States involvement in Syria

In response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons on rebels and civilians in a Damascus suburb, Kerry supported President Obama's September 4, 2013 decision to use a limited military strike against the Syrian government.[22] Kerry stated: "Well, we know that the Assad regime has the largest chemical weapons programs in the entire Middle East. We know that the regime has used those weapons multiple times this year, and has used them on a smaller scale but still it has used them against its own people, including not very far from where last Wednesday's attack happened."[23]

"It matters because if we choose to live in the world where a thug and a murderer like Bashar al-Assad can gas thousands of his own people with impunity, even after the United States and our allies said no, and then the world does nothing about it, there will be no end to the test of our resolve and the dangers that will flow from those others who believe that they can do as they will."[23]


Secretary of State

Chinese hacking charges

On May 19, 2014, the Justice Department charged five members of the Chinese military of hacking into the systems of U.S. companies and a union. U.S. Steel Corp., Allegheny Technologies, Inc., Westinghouse Electric Co., Alcoa, Inc., Solar World Industries American, Inc. and the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union (USW) were the alleged targets of the hacking operation aimed at uncovering trade secrets. The indictment, based on the judgement of a grand jury in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania named five individuals for conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse. They were Wang Dong, Sun Kailiang, Wen Xinyu, Huang Zhenyu and Gu Chunhui.[24]

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang disputed the claims, stating, "The Chinese government, the Chinese military and their relevant personnel have never engaged or participated in cyber theft of trade secrets. The U.S. accusation against Chinese personnel is purely ungrounded and absurd."[25] The Chinese government demanded that the charges be withdrawn and announced their intention to suspend their involvement in the U.S.-China Cyber Working Group. The group was formed in 2013 by Secretary of State John Kerry and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to address the accusations of hacking between the two countries.[24]

Department budget

U.S. Department of State Annual Budget
YearBudget (in billions)% Difference from previous year
  • Note: 2014 only represents the Department's budget request, not an enacted budget.

Committee assignments

Kerry discusses sending the possibility of sending more troops abroad in this 2009 video on CBS.

U.S. Senate


Kerry served on the following Senate committees[27]:


During the 112th Congress, Kerry served on the following committees.

Congressional positions


According to Kerry's campaign website, he supported a true end to the Iraq war. Specifically, Kerry promoted the establishment of a specific date to withdraw all troops.[28]

Fiscal Cliff

Voted "Yes" Kerry voted for 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. The bill was passed in the Senate by an 89 - 8 vote on January 1, 2013.[29]



On November 4, 2008, John Kerry won re-election to the United States Senate. He defeated Jeffrey K. Beatty (R) and Robert J. Underwood (L) in the general election.[30]

U.S. Senate, Massachusetts General Election, 2008
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngJohn Kerry incumbent 63.6% 1,971,974
     Republican Jeffrey K. Beatty 29.8% 926,044
     Libertarian Robert J. Underwood 3% 93,716
     N/A All Others 0.1% 2,516
     N/A Blank/Scattering 3.5% 108,748
Total Votes 3,102,998

2004 presidential election

In 2004, Kerry was defeated by incumbent George W. Bush for the United States presidency.

U.S. presidential election, 2004
Party Candidate Vote % Votes Electoral votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngGeorge W. Bush/Dick Cheney Incumbent 50.8% 62,039,572 286
     Democratic John Kerry/John Edwards 48.3% 59,027,115 251
     Independent Ralph Nader/Peter Camejo 0.4% 465,642 0
     Libertarian Michael Badnarik/Richard Campagna 0.3% 397,265 0
     Constitution Michael Peroutka/Charles Baldwin 0.1% 144,650 0
     Green David Cobb/Pat LaMarche 0.1% 119,910 0
Total Votes 122,194,154 537
Election Results Via: 2004 Presidential General Election Results

Other candidates that appeared on the ballot received less than 0.1% of the vote. Those candidates included: Leonard Peltier, Walt Brown, Róger Calero, Thomas Harens, Gene Amondson, Bill Van Auken, John Parker, Charles Jay, Stanford Andress and Earl Dodge.[31]

Full history

Campaign donors


Kerry won re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2008. During that re-election cycle, Kerry's campaign committee raised a total of $11,105,663 and spent $17,016,823.[36]


Kerry won re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2002. During that re-election cycle, Kerry's campaign committee raised a total of $15,468,903 and spent $10,297,909.[37]

His top five contributors between 2003-2008 were:


Ideology and leadership

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


Based on an analysis of bill sponsorship by GovTrack, Kerry was a "far-left Democratic leader."[38]

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, as compared to other members, in the previous year. More information about the analysis process can be found on the vote ratings page.


According to the data released in 2013, Kerry ranked 24th most liberal senator during 2012.[39]


According to the data released in 2012, Kerry ranked 24th most liberal senator during 2011.[40]

Voting with party


The website OpenCongress tracks how often members of Congress vote with the majority of the chamber caucus. According to the website, Kerry voted with the Democratic Party 97.2 percent of the time, which ranked 6th among the 51 Senate Democrats in November 2011.[41]

Congressional staff salaries

See also: Staff salaries of United States Senators and Representatives

The website Legistorm compiles staff salary information for members of Congress. Kerry paid his congressional staff a total of $2,828,790 in 2011. He ranks 15th on the list of the highest paid Democratic senatorial staff salaries and ranks 20th overall of the highest paid senatorial staff salaries in 2011. Overall, Massachusetts ranks 12th in average salary for senatorial staff. The average U.S. Senate congressional staff was paid $2,529,141.70 in fiscal year 2011.[42]

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


Based on congressional financial disclosure forms and calculations made available by, Kerry's net worth as of 2011 was estimated between $184,268,546 and $287,685,063.00. That averages to $235,976,804.00, which is significantly higher than the average net worth of Democratic senators in 2011 of $20,795,449.53. His average calculated net worth[43] increased by 1.84 percent from 2010.[44]


Based on congressional financial disclosure forms and calculations made available by, Kerry's net worth as of 2010 was estimated between $181,469,521 and $281,976,067. That averages to $231,722,794, which is higher than the average net worth of Democratic senators in 2010 of $19,383,524 .[45]


Kerry is married to Theresa Heinz. He and his first wife, Julia Thorne, were divorced in 1988. Kerry has two children from his first marriage -- Alexandra and Vanessa. He has three stepsons -- H. John Heinz IV, Andre Heinz and Christopher Heinz.

Recent news

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See also

External links

Political Tracker has an article on:
John Kerry


  1. 1.0 1.1 The Washington Post, "John Kerry confirmed as secretary of state," January 29, 2013
  2. CBS News, "Obama taps John Kerry to be Secretary of State," December 21, 2012
  3. Frontline, "The 1972 Defeat," accessed November 25, 2013
  4., "John Kerry," accessed September 17, 2013
  5. Boston College, "Secretary of State John Kerry to Boston College Class of 2014: 'Pass On Your Light to Others'," May 19, 2014
  6., "John Kerry biography," accessed September 3, 2014
  7. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, "John Forbes Kerry," accessed August 27, 2011
  8. Politico, "Senate backs Max Baucus for China ambassador," February 6, 2014
  9. Huffington Post, "John Kerry: U.S. Open To Cooperating With Iran Over Iraq Conflict," June 16, 2014
  10. The Guardian, "John Kerry insists any US moves in Iraq will not involve combat troops," August 12, 2014
  11. The Hill, "Kerry: US assessing options to help trapped civilians in Iraq," August 13, 2014
  12. Time, "U.S. Says That Insurgents’ Siege of Iraqi Mountain Has Ended," August 14, 2014
  13. The Guardian, "Iraqi government names new cabinet as Islamic State advance," September 8, 2014
  14. The Guardian, "John Kerry praises new Iraqi cabinet," September 9, 2014
  15. NBC News, "Tricky Diplomacy Awaits U.S. in ISIS Fight, Analysts Say," September 10, 2014
  16. The Washington Post, "Kerry presents Gaza cease-fire proposal to Israel and proxies for Hamas," July 25, 2014
  17. Politico, "Kerry says no Gaza truce deal yet," July 25, 2014
  18. Politico, "Kerry condemns Libya violence," November 16, 2013
  19. Reuters, "Kerry, Lew to brief U.S. senators on Iran nuclear talks," October 25, 2013
  20. Politico, "Kerry, Lew to lobby against new Iran sanctions," October 29, 2013
  21. NBC News, "Kerry tried to allay congressional fears over nuclear deal with Iran," December 10, 2013
  22. The Guardian, "US draft resolution allows Obama 90 days for military action against Syria," September 4, 2013
  23. 23.0 23.1 The Guardian, "John Kerry statement on US intervention in Syria – full text," August 30, 2013
  24. 24.0 24.1 Wall Street Journal, "U.S. Charges Five in Chinese Army With Hacking," May 19, 2014
  25. L.A. Times, "China blasts 'absurd' U.S. charges of cyber-espionage," May 19, 2014
  26. U.S. Department of State, "Budget and Planning - International Affairs Budget," accessed January 31, 2014
  27. Congressional Quarterly, "Senate Committee List," accessed January 22, 2013
  28. John Kerry Campaign website, "Iraq," accessed August 27, 2011
  29. U.S. Senate, "Roll Call Vote on the Fiscal Cliff," accessed January 4, 2013
  30. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 4, 2008," accessed March 28, 2013
  31. U.S. Election Atlas, "2004 Presidential General Election," accessed September 18, 2013
  32. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 5, 2002," accessed March 28, 2013
  33. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 5, 1996," accessed March 28, 2013
  34. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 6, 1990," accessed March 28, 2013
  35. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 6, 1984," accessed March 28, 2013
  36. OpenSecrets, "John Kerry 2008 Election Cycle," accessed October 2011
  37. OpenSecrets, "John Kerry 2002 Election Cycle," accessed October 2011
  38. GovTrack, "John Kerry," accessed March 3, 2012
  39. National Journal, "TABLE: House Liberal Scores by Issue Area," February 26, 2013
  40. National Journal, "Searchable Vote Ratings Tables: House," accessed February 23, 2012
  41. OpenCongress, "Voting With Party," accessed October 5, 2011
  42. LegiStorm, "John Kerry," accessed September 3, 2014
  43. 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).
  44. OpenSecrets, "Kerry, (D-Massachusetts), 2011," accessed September 3, 2014
  45. OpenSecrets, "Kerry, (D-Massachusetts), 2010," accessed September 3, 2014
Political offices
Preceded by
Hillary Clinton
U.S. Secretary of State
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Paul Tsongas
U.S. Senate - Massachusetts
Succeeded by
Mo Cowan