Jim Jeffords

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James Merrill "Jim" Jeffords was a Republican turned Independent senator from Vermont from 1989 to 2007. He opted to retire rather than seek reelection in 2006.


Record and controversies

Iraq War

Jeffords voted against the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq in Oct. 2002.

For more information see the chart of U.S. Senate votes on the Iraq War.

Environmental record

For more information on environmental legislation, see the Energy and Environment Policy Portal



Jeffords was born May 11, 1934 in Rutland, Vermont. He holds an undergraduate degree from Yale University (1956) and a law degree from Harvard Law School (1962). After three years of active duty in the Navy (1956 - 1959), Jeffords served in the Naval Reserves until he retired as a Captain in 1990. He is married to Elizabeth Daley and has two children, Leonard and Laura.

Jeffords entered politics in 1966, winning a seat in the Vermont State Senate. He followed that success in 1968 with a victory in the race for Vermont Attorney General. In 1974, he won Vermont's sole seat in the House of Representatives, where he served for fourteen years and was the ranking Republican member of the House Education and Labor Committee. In 1988, Jeffords was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he remains today.

Jeffords's work in Congress has focused on legislation involving education, job training, and individuals with disabilities. In recent years, his emphasis has shifted somewhat, as Jeffords has pushed several important pieces of environmental legislation through Congress. He is, together with Paul Simon, credited for actively lobbying the US administration into mounting a humanitarian mission to Rwanda during the Rwandan Genocide in 1993-4.

Jeffords was one of the founders of the Congressional Solar Coalition and the Congressional Arts Caucus. Jeffords has been frequently recognized for his skills as a legislator, receiving Parenting Magazine's "Legislator of the Year" award in 1999, and the Sierra Club's highest commendation in 2002.

From Republican to Independent

On June 5, 2001, Jeffords left the Republican Party, with which he had always been affiliated, and announced his new status as an Independent.

This occurred despite, for example, Jefford's voting for President Bush's 2001 tax cut package along with all other Republicans. Jeffords's Independent status changed the Senate composition from 50-50 (with a Republican Vice President, Dick Cheney, who would break all ties in favor of the Republicans) to 49 Republicans, 50 Democrats, and one Independent. Jeffords promised to vote for Democratic control after being promised a committee chairmanship by Democratic Leader Tom Tom Daschle, thus handing control of the Senate to the Democrats. He then handed his chairmanship of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which he had held since 1997, to Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and was given the chairmanship of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which would have been occupied by ranking minority member Harry Reid. Jeffords held this committee chair until the Democrats lost control of the Senate in 2003 following Congressional elections in 2002.

Senate Career

Voting Record

Jeffords made a deal with the Democrats according to which he votes with them on all procedural matters except with permission of the Whip, which would be rarely asked and rarely granted, in exchange for the committee seats that would have been available to Jeffords had he been a Democrat during his entire Senate tenure. Jeffords is free to vote as he pleases on substantive matters but more often than not votes with the Democrats. Even before his party switch, his voting record was very liberal, which is typical for Republicans from Vermont. While a Republican, he voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1991, the Brady Bill, the Family and Medical Leave Act, an end to the ban on gays serving in the military, and against permanent normal trade relations with China. Jeffords was also vocal in his opposition to the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the United States Supreme Court by President George H.W. Bush. He was the only prominent Republican to support President Clinton's failed attempt to establish a national healthcare plan. His position put him to the political left of many Democrats who had serious doubts about Clinton's plan.

In 2002, Jeffords was one of only 23 senators to vote against authorizing the use of military force in Iraq. On this issue of foreign policy and other issues, Jeffords has strongly disagreed with the positions of the Bush administration.

Sponsered Bills

Jeffords, along with Senators Edward M. Kennedy, Patrick Leahy, Tom Harkin, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama authored the Standing with Minimum Wage Earners Act of 2006. This bill would change the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1983 by keeping the wage increase for Congressional members at the same pace as the increase of the federal minimum wage. [1][2]

2006 elections

Jeffords announced that he would retire rather than seek a fourth Senate term. Republican Richard E. Tarrant and independent Bernie Sanders contested the November 2006 election for his Senate seat. (See U.S. congressional elections in 2006) [3]

Meet the Cash Constituents

Links to more campaign contribution information for Jim Jeffords
from the Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets.org site.
Fundraising profile: 2008 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by organization/corporation: 2008 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by industry: 2008 election cycle Career totals

Committees and Affiliations

Committees in the 109th Congress (2005-2006)

More Background Data

Wikipedia also has an article on Jim Jeffords. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.

Articles and Resources

Local blogs and discussion sites


DC Office:
413 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-4503
Phone: 202-224-5141
Fax: 202-228-0776
Web Email

District Office- Burlington:
30 Main Street, Suite 350
Burlington, VT 05401
Phone: 800-835-5500

District Office- Montpelier:
453 Stone Cutters Way, Suite 1
Montpelier, VT 05602
Phone: 802-223-5273

District Office- Rutland:
Lindholm Building, 2nd Floor
2 South Main Street
Rutland, VT 05701