Joe Donnelly

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Joe Donnelly
Joe Donnelly, official portrait, 113th Congress.jpg
U.S. Senate, Indiana
In office
January 3, 2013 - Present
Term ends
January 3, 2019
Years in position 2
PredecessorRichard Lugar (R)
President of the School Board for Mishawaka Marian High School, Indiana
Base salary$174,000/year
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 6, 2012
Cost per vote$4.35 in 2012
First electedNovember 6, 2012
Next generalNovember 2018
Campaign $$11,541,943
Term limitsN/A
Prior offices
U.S. House of Representatives, Indiana
School Board for Mishawaka Marian High School, Indiana
Indiana State Election Board
Bachelor'sNotre Dame
J.D.Notre Dame
Date of birthSeptember 29, 1955
Place of birthQueens, New York
Net worth$749,004
ReligionRoman Catholic
Office website
Campaign website
Joe Donnelly campaign logo
Joseph Simon "Joe" Donnelly, Sr. (b. September 29, 1955, in Queens, New York) is a Democratic member of the U.S. Senate from the state of Indiana. Donnelly was first elected to the Senate in 2012.

He previously was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Indiana's 2nd Congressional District from 2007 to 2013.

Donnelly won election to the U.S. Senate from Indiana on November 6, 2012.[1]

Based on analysis of multiple outside rankings, Donnelly is a more moderate left of center Democratic Party vote. As a result, he may break with the Democratic Party line more than his fellow members.


Donnelly was born in Queens, New York. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a B.A. in Government in 1977. Donnelly also graduated from the University of Notre Dame Law School in 1981.[2]


Committee assignments

U.S. Senate


Donnelly serves on the following committees[4]:

  • Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee
    • Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, Poultry, Marketing and Agriculture Security
    • Subcommittee on Jobs, Rural Economic Growth and Energy Innovation
    • Subcommittee on Commodities, Markets, Trade and Risk Management
  • Armed Services
    • Subcommittee on Strategic Forces
    • Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support
    • Subcommittee on Airland
  • Aging

U.S. House of Representatives


Donnelly served on the following committees:[5]

  • Financial Services Committee
    • Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government-Sponsored Enterprises
    • Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy and Trade
  • Veterans' Affairs Committee
    • Subcommittee on Health
    • Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Ranking Member


Legislative actions

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.[6] The Senate confirmed 13,949 out of 18,323 executive nominations received (76.1 percent). For more information pertaining to Donnelly's voting record in the 113th Congress, please see the below sections.[7]

National security

John Brennan CIA nomination

Voted "Yes" Donnelly 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.[8]


Government shutdown
See also: United States budget debate, 2013

Voted "Yes" 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 funds 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.[9] The final vote on H.R. 2775 was 81-18, with all 18 votes against the bill from Republican members. Donnelly voted with the Democratic Party for the bill.[10]

No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013

Voted "Yes" Donnelly voted in favor of 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 suspended 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.[8]

2013 Senate Budget Proposal

Voted "Yes" Donnelly voted in favor of the 2013 Senate Budget Proposal.[8] On March 23, after an all-night debate that ended just before 5 a.m., by a 50 to 49 vote the Democratically controlled Senate approved its first budget in four years. No Republicans voted for the Senate plan, and four Democrats opposed it. All four are from red states and are up for re-election in 2014. Donnelly was one of the four Democrats who voted against the budget proposal.[8]

The approved plan is a $3.7 trillion budget for 2014 and would provide a fast track for passage of tax increases, trim spending modestly and leave the government still deeply in the red for the next decade.

The approval of a budget in the Senate began the process of setting up contentious, and potentially fruitless, negotiations with the Republican-controlled House starting in April to reconcile two vastly different plans for dealing with the nation’s economic and budgetary problems.

The House plan would have brought the government’s taxes and spending into balance by 2023 with cuts to domestic spending even below the levels of automatic across-the-board cuts for federal programs now, and it orders up dramatic and controversial changes to Medicare and the tax code.

The Senate plan differed greatly, and included $100 billion in upfront infrastructure spending to bolster the economy and calls for special fast-track rules to overhaul the tax code and raise $975 billion over 10 years in legislation that could not be filibustered. Even with that tax increase and prescribed spending cuts, the plan approved by the Senate would leave the government with a $566 billion annual deficit in 10 years, and $5.2 trillion in additional debt over that window.


Mexico-U.S. border

Voted "No" Donnelly voted against 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.[8]

Social Issues

Violence Against Women (2013)

Voted "Yes" Donnelly 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.[8]

Gay Marriage

During his 2012 campaign Donnelly opposed gay marriage.[11] He switched his position on the issue on April 5, 2013, endorsing gay marriage.[12]

In a posting on the social media outlet Facebook on April 5, 2013, he stated "I voted to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and was an original supporter of the bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against someone in the workplace because of their sexual orientation. It is also for that reason that I oppose amending either Indiana’s or our nation’s constitution to enshrine in those documents an ‘us’ and a ‘them,’ instead of a ‘we.’ With the recent Supreme Court arguments and accompanying public discussion of same-sex marriage, I have been thinking about my past positions and votes. In doing so, I have concluded that the right thing to do is to support marriage equality for all.”[12]

Previous congressional sessions

Fiscal Cliff

Voted "Yes" Donnelly 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. He was 1 of 172 Democrats that voted in favor of the bill. The bill was passed in the House by a 257 - 167 vote on January 1, 2013.[13]

Specific votes

Donnelly voted for TARP.[14] According to a Gallup poll from September 13, 2010, 61% of Americans disapprove of TARP, while 37% approve.[15]

Donnelly also supported the auto bailout.[16] As of September 13, 2010: 56% of Americans disapproved of the auto bailout, while 43% supported it.[17]

In addition, Donnelly voted for the stimulus bill.[18] 57% of U.S. voters believe that the stimulus has either hurt the economy (36%) or had no impact (21%). 38% believe the stimulus helped the economy.[19]

Donnelly also voted in favor of the "Cash for Clunkers" bill.[20] According to a June 2009 Rasmussen Reports poll, 54% of likely U.S. voters opposed Cash for Clunkers, while 35% supported it.[21]

Finally, Donnelly voted in favor of the health care reform bill.[22] 57% of likely voters at least somewhat favor repeal of the health care reform bill, including 46% who strongly favor repeal. 35% of likely voters oppose repeal. 51% of likely voters believe the health care reform bill will be bad for the country, while 36% believe it will be beneficial.[23]


A Washington Post investigation in February 2012 revealed that 33 members of Congress helped direct more than $300 million in earmarks to public projects in close proximity to commercial and residential real estate owned by the lawmakers or their family members.[24] According to the report, Donnelly sponsored a $935,000 earmark to dredge Michigan City Harbor in the northwest corner of his Indiana district. The harbor is about two miles down the beach from a home Donnelly owns along the shore of Lake Michigan.[25]



See also: United States Senate elections in Indiana, 2012

Donnelly won the 2012 election for the U.S. Senate, representing Indiana. Donnelly sought the nomination on the Democratic ticket.[26] The signature filing deadline for candidates wishing to run was February 24, 2012. The primary elections took place on May 8, 2012.

The two candidates ran a close race, despite the fact that Indiana was seen as a Republican-leaning state. After the conservative Mourdock replaced the moderate Lugar as the Republican candidate, Democratic candidate Joe Donnelly was thought to have a good chance at wining the seat. Lugar drew support from members of both parties, but Mourdock's tea-party background divided Indiana voters along party lines.[27]

According to the website Daily Kos, this race was one of nine top-ballot 2012 races that contained Libertarian candidates who received more total votes than was the difference between the Democratic winner and the GOP runner-up. In this case, Andy Horning took in over 4,800 more votes than the number that separated Donnelly and Mourdock.[28]

U.S. Senate, Indiana General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngJoe Donnelly 50% 1,281,181
     Republican Richard Mourdock 44.3% 1,133,621
     Libertarian Andy Horning 5.7% 145,282
     Independent James Johnson, Jr. 0% 15
     Independent Amy Willis 0% 3
Total Votes 2,560,102
Source: Indiana Secretary of State "United States Senate Election Results"


On November 2, 2010, Donnelly won re-election to the United States House of Representatives. He defeated Jackie Walorski (R) and Mark Vogel (Libertarian) in the general election.[29]

U.S. House, Indiana District 2 General Election, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngJoe Donnelly Incumbent 48.2% 91,341
     Republican Jackie Walorski 46.8% 88,803
     Libertarian Mark Vogel 5% 9,447
Total Votes 189,591



U.S. Senate in Indiana, General election candidates
Poll Richard Mourdock Joe DonnellyOther candidateUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Rasmussen Reports
July 31-August 1, 2012
Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group
August 9-12, 2012
AVERAGES 42.5% 42.5% 1.5% 13.5% +/-4.5 500.5
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Donnelly is available dating back to 2004. Based on available campaign finance records, Donnelly raised a total of $11,541,943 during that time period. This information was last updated on April 3, 2013.[30]

Joe Donnelly's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 U.S. Senate (Indiana) Won $5,661,997
2010 U.S. House (Indiana, District 2) Won $1,718,200
2008 U.S. House (Indiana, District 2) Won $1,846,892
2006 U.S. House (Indiana, District 2) Won $1,520,789
2004 U.S. House (Indiana, District 2) Won $794,065
Grand Total Raised $11,541,943


Breakdown of the source of Donnelly's campaign funds before the 2012 election.

Donnelly won election to the U.S. Senate in 2012. During that election cycle, Donnelly's campaign committee raised a total of $5,661,997 and spent $5,579,171.[31] This is less than the average $10.2 million spent by Senate winners in 2012.[32]

Cost per vote

Donnelly spent $4.35 per vote received in 2012.


Breakdown of the source of Donnelly's campaign funds before the 2010 election.

Donnelly won re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010. During that re-election cycle, Donnelly's campaign committee raised a total of $1,718,200 and spent $1,983,118.[33]


Ideology and leadership

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

Based on an analysis of bill sponsorship by GovTrack, Donnelly was a "centrist Democrat" while serving in the U.S. House.[34]

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.[35]

Donnelly most often votes with:

Donnelly least often votes with:

Lifetime voting record

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

According to the website GovTrack, Donnelly missed 0 of 92 roll call votes from January 2013 to March 2013. This amounts to 0.00%, which is better than the median of 1.7% among currently serving senators as of March 2013.[36]

Frequency of Voting with Democratic Leadership

According to a July 2010 analysis of 1,357 votes cast from January 1, 2009 to June 16, 2010, Donnelly has voted with the House Democratic leadership 87.8% of the time.[37] That same analysis reported that he also voted with party leadership 91.5% of the time in 2010.

Washington Post Analysis

A separate analysis from The Washington Post, concludes that he votes 88.5% of the time with the majority of rank-and-file Democrats in the House of Representatives.[38]

Congressional staff salaries

See also: Staff salaries of United States Senators and Representatives

The website Legistorm compiles staff salary information for members of Congress. Donnelly paid his congressional staff a total of $862,183 in 2011. He ranked 17th on the list of the lowest paid Democratic representative staff salaries and ranked 108th overall of the lowest paid representative staff salaries in 2011. Overall, Indiana ranked 35th in average salary for representative staff. The average U.S. House of Representatives congressional staff was paid $954,912.20 in fiscal year 2011.[39]

Net worth

See also: Net Worth of United States Senators and Representatives

Based on congressional financial disclosure forms and calculations made available by, Donnelly's net worth as of 2012 was estimated between $157,010 and $1,340,998. That averages to $749,004, which is lower than the average net worth of Democratic senators in 2012 of $13,566,333. Donnelly ranked as the 72nd most wealthy senator in 2012.[40]

Joe Donnelly Yearly Net Worth
YearAvg. Net Worth% Difference from previous year

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.


Information on 2012 vote rating is unavailable.


Donnelly ranked 244th in the liberal rankings in 2011.[41]

Voting with party


Donnelly voted with the Democratic Party 80.8% of the time, which ranked 48th among the 52 Senate Democratic members as of June 2013.[42]


Donnelly lives in Granger, Indiana, with his wife Jill. They have been married since 1979. Together they have two children, Molly and Joseph Jr.[2]

Recent news

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Joe Donnelly News Feed

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See also

External links


  1. Politico "2012 Election Map, Indiana"
  2. 2.0 2.1 Congressman Joe Donnelly Representing the 2nd District of Indiana "Biography" Accessed November 4, 2011
  3. 3.0 3.1 Joe Donnelly for Congress "About Joe" Accessed November 4, 2011
  4. Congressional Quarterly "Senate Committee List" Accessed January 18, 2013
  5. Congressman Joe Donnelly, 2nd District of Indiana "Committees & Caucuses"
  6. Congressional Record, "Resume of Congressional Activity, First Session of the 112th Congress," accessed September 5, 2013
  7. Congressional Record, "Resume of Congressional Activity, Second Session of the 113th Congress," accessed March 4, 2014
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 Project Votesmart, "Joe Donnelly Key Votes," accessed October 16, 2013
  9. The Washington Post, "Reid, McConnell propose bipartisan Senate bill to end shutdown, extend borrowing," accessed October 16, 2013
  10., "H.R. 2775 As Amended," accessed October 31, 2013
  11. "Gay Marriage Rights: The 10 Democratic Senators Who Still Say No" March 2013
  12. 12.0 12.1 Politico "2 more Democratic senators endorse gay marriage" Accessed April 9, 2013
  13. U.S. House "Roll Call Vote on the Fiscal Cliff" Accessed January 4, 2013.
  15. Gallup "Among Recent Bills, Financial Reform a Lone Plus for Congress," September 13, 2010
  16. US House Clerk "Roll Call 690" December 10, 2008
  17. Gallup "Among Recent Bills, Financial Reform a Lone Plus for Congress," September 13, 2010
  18. US House Clerk "Roll Call 46," January 28, 2009
  19. Rasmussen "38% Say Stimulus Plan Helped Economy, 36% Say It Hurt," August 24, 2010
  20. US House Clerk "Roll Call 314," June 9, 2009
  21. Rasmussen "54% Oppose “Cash for Clunkers” Plan To Spur Purchase of Greener Cars," June 23, 2009
  22. US House Clerk "Roll Call 165," March 21, 2010
  23. Rasmussen "61% Favor Repeal of Health Care Law," September 20, 2010
  24. Washington Post "Congressional earmarks sometimes used to fund projects near lawmakers' properties," February 6, 2012
  25. Washington Post "Mapping the earmarks," February 6, 2012
  26. Los Angeles Times "Democrat Joe Donnelly sets sights on Indiana Senate seat," Accessed January 5, 2012
  27. New York Times "As Senate Race in Indiana Tightens, Candidates Seem to Move to Center" Accessed October 22, 2012
  28. Daily Kos, "Libertarians provided the margin for Democrats and at least nine elections," November 15, 2012
  29. U.S. Congress House Clerk "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 2, 2010"
  30. Open Secrets "Joe Donnelly" Accessed April 3, 2013
  31. Open Secrets "Joe Donnelly 2012 Election Cycle," Accessed February 19, 2013
  32. Open Secrets, "Election 2012: The Big Picture Shows Record Cost of Winning a Seat in Congress," June 19, 2013
  33. Open Secrets "Joe Donnelly 2010 Election Cycle," Accessed November 4, 2011
  34. Gov Track "Donnelly" Accessed May 21, 2012
  35. OpenCongress, "Rep. Joe Donnelly," Accessed August 2, 2013
  36. GovTrack, "Joe Donnelly," Accessed March 29, 2013
  37. A Line of Sight "2010 House Dem Voting Report"
  38. Washington Post "U.S. Congress Votes Database, 111th Congress"
  39. LegiStorm "Joe Donnelly"
  40., "Donnelly, (D-IN), 2012"
  41. National Journal, "Searchable Vote Ratings Tables: House," February 23, 2012
  42. OpenCongress, "Voting With Party," accessed July 2014
Political offices
Preceded by
Richard Lugar
U.S. Senate - Indiana
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Chris Chocola
U.S. House of Representatives - Indiana, District 2
Succeeded by
Jackie Walorski
Preceded by
School Board for Mishawaka Marian High School, Indiana
1997 to 2001
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Indiana State Election Board
Succeeded by