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PENNSYLVANIA

SENATOR ARLEN SPECTER

B I O G R A P H Y





Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania's senior U.S. Senator, chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and is a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, the Judiciary Committee and the Government Affairs Committee. In the 104th Congress, he chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Senator Specter is a legislative leader on education, health care, crime, drugs and terrorism. As chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee overseeing the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, he led the fight to increase NIH funding in the last four years by more than $8 billion (currently at $20.3 billion) and to provide $1.45 billon in fiscal year 2001 for programs geared toward reducing the incidence of youth violence under an action plan administered by the Surgeon General. In 1991, he helped create a separate Women's Health Unit at NIH. In addition, Senator Specter helped defeat the bureaucratic Clinton national health care plan, and has been pressing his own plan for incremental health care reform and coverage for children. Senator Specter has also co-sponsored key domestic violence legislation, and chairs the newly created Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight of the Department of Justice, FBI and other federal agencies review of Chinese espionage, campaign finance and Waco.

Senator Specter's Armed Career Criminal Act, signed into law in 1984 and expanded in 1986, carries a mandatory 15-year prison sentence for a career criminal found carrying a firearm, and has proven especially effective against major drug traffickers. His death penalty legislation streamlines the once-endless federal appeals process.

A former prosecutor and investigator, Senator Specter led the Veterans Affairs Committee investigation in1999 of Gulf War Illness (from possible exposure to chemical weapons) and in 1995 led the investigation of the killings at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, which prompted changes in FBI and ATF policy. In the only tangible legislative reform to come from the Iran-Contra scandal, he was responsible in 1989 for creating Inspectors General of the CIA, which in turn exposed Soviet mole Aldrich Ames, assassinations in Guatemala, and tainted Soviet materials passed to the President.

A fiscal conservative, Senator Specter has pressed for the Balanced Budget Amendment and line-item veto, and was the first to introduce a flat-tax bill to lower federal taxes and simplify filing. He has also fought for assistance to farmers and for relief efforts in the wake of droughts, floods and the Avian Flu.

Arlen Specter began his public service career as an assistant Philadelphia District Attorney. He was appointed to the Warren Commission staff where he played a leading role in investigating the assassination of President Kennedy. During two terms as District Attorney, he helped restore death penalty statutes in Pennsylvania, fought against consumer fraud, cracked down on rape and other crimes of violence, and relentlessly prosecuted corrupt public officials.

Arlen Specter was born to immigrant parents in Wichita, KS, and grew up in the small town of Russell, KS. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Pennsylvania, then served stateside in the Air Force Office of Special Investigations for two years. He graduated from Yale Law School, where he was an editor of the law journal.

Senator Specter lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Joan. They have two sons, Shanin and Steve. Shanin and his wife, Tracey, have four daughters, Silvi, Perri, Lilli and Hatti.