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Profile of Sen. Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico

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Profile of Sen. Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico

Senator Jeff Bingaman

United States Senate:

Jeff Bingaman was first elected as senator from New Mexico in 1982. Sen. Bingaman announced on February 18, 2011 that he will not seek reelection in 2012.

This intelligent, low-key senator, who chairs the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee in 2007-08, is a strong advocate of energy conservation and preservation of natural resources. He's among the 23 senators who voted in October 2002 against the Iraq War.

Recent Notability:

"It's contrary to the way the court decisions have come down already. It is an extraordinary step for this Congress to be taking" Senator Bingaman angrily objected on November 10, 2005. He was responding to the Senate vote to bar foreign prisoners in US prisons from filing lawsuits in US courts to challenge their detentions, despite a Supreme Court ruling in 2004 allowing such legal protections.

Major Areas of Interest and Voting Record:

Senator Bingaman is a champion for protecting natural resources and for energy conservation. He serves as chair vice-chair of the Alliance to Save Energy, and is an active member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

He has a strong pro-peace, pro-choice, pro-public education voting record. He has voted for all US free trade agreements and supports embryonic stem cell research. In 2002, he tried to block funding for the new "bunker-buster" nuclear bomb sought by President Bush.

Senate Committees in 112th Congress, 2011-2012:

  • Energy & Natural Resources Committee, Chair
  • Finance Committee
  • Finance Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources & Infrastructure, Chair
  • Finance Subcommittee on International Trade
  • Finance Subcommittee on Healthcare
  • Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee
  • Health Subcommittee on Children and Families
  • Health Subcommittee on Retirement and Aging
  • Congressional Joint Economic Committee

Prior Experience:

  • US Army Reserves, 1968-74
  • Assistant New Mexico Attorney General, 1969, as counsel to the State constitutional convention
  • Practicing attorney, 1970-78
  • New Mexico Attorney General, 1979-82
  • US Senator from New Mexico, 1982-present

Personal Data:

  • Birth - October 3, 1943 in El Paso, Texas
  • Education - Attended public schools in Silver City, NM; BA in Government from Harvard University in 1965; JD from Stanford University Law School in 1968.
  • Family - Married; one adult son, John.
  • Faith - Christian, Methodist
The senator's father, John D. Bingaman, taught science for 45 years at Western New Mexico University, and was a 1940 delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

The Jeff Bingaman Persona:

At age 15, Jeff Bingaman earned the rank of Eagle Scout. As in his youth, Bingaman is regarded as a reliable, consistent, intelligent senator. He also remains fiercely determined to achieve his goals. USA Today wrote in 2004, "Bingaman stands out for his quiet, serious-minded style." Another said of him, "He is the last to grab a microphone and the first to offer it to a colleague." There are Washington whispers that the senator has a decidedly frugal streak.

Anne Kovacovich Bingaman, Spouse of Senator Bingaman:

Attorney Anne Kovacovich Bingaman graduated with her husband in 1968 from Stanford University Law School. She's carved a long and successful career practicing and teaching law, including 3 years heading the antitrust divison of the Department of Justice under President Clinton. Controversy ensued when she accepted $2.5 million from Global Crossing Corp. in 1999 to "lobby" on behalf of favorable antitrust legislation. The legislation passed.

Memorable Quotes:

"In some ways, not tooting your own horn can help you be effective. Somebody that I'm working with on a bill may not worry that I'm going to go out and call a press conference and claim credit for something we've been working on together."

"A policy that is not based on sound science is unwise." -- September 16, 1999

On U.S. Torture
On December 9, 2004, Bingaman wrote to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld to express his "deep concern over issues related to detainees being held in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Recent reports indicate that not only were detainees mishandled and interrogated in a manner inconsistent with the Geneva Conventions, but that subsequent internal reports of abuse appear to have been suppressed... While the abuse of detainees is unacceptable under any circumstance, reports of the suppression of evidence regarding abuse are extremely disturbing. Please inform me of the actions you intend to take."

On Due Process Rights for Prisoners
"The current practice of holding detainees or prisoners indefinitely, without affording them basic due process rights, has been widely criticized in this country and throughout the world. For a country such as ours that has consistently advocated for the rule of law, the policies of the current administration are nothing short of a major embarrassment... How we handle prisoners can have a dramatic impact on how our own men and women are treated in the event they are themselves taken prisoner." --- November 8, 2005

Energy Concerns
"We have a lot of major energy concerns in the US today. We have a need to increase supply and control the growth of demand for electricity....We have a need for more infrastructure for natural gas for heating. More and more, natural gas is the fuel people and small business depend on. But the natural gas infrastructure is inadequate for the future. We also have need for more gas and oil refining capacity. And we need to do something to control growth of demand for gasoline for autos." --- June 1, 2001

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