148 Facts About Patrick Leahy


Patrick Joseph Leahy is an American politician and attorney who served as a United States senator from Vermont from 1975 to 2023, and served as the president pro tempore of the United States Senate from 2012 to 2015 and from 2021 to 2023.


At the time of his retirement, Patrick Leahy was the last US senator to have served during the presidency of Gerald Ford.


Patrick Leahy was the dean of Vermont's congressional delegation, Vermont's longest-serving US senator, and the first Democrat ever elected to the US Senate from Vermont.


Patrick Leahy served as ranking member of the Appropriations Committee from 2017 to 2021 and became chairman in 2021.


Patrick Leahy was the presiding officer at Donald Trump's second impeachment trial, becoming the first senator to preside over a former president's impeachment trial.


On November 15,2021, Patrick Leahy announced that he would not seek reelection in 2022.


Patrick Leahy was succeeded by Peter Welch, who became the second Democrat to represent Vermont in the Senate.

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Patrick Leahy was born in Montpelier, Vermont, the son of Alba and Howard Francis Patrick Leahy.


Patrick Leahy has been legally blind in his left eye since birth.


Patrick Leahy attended the parochial schools of Montpelier, and graduated from Montpelier's St Michael's High School in 1957.


In 1961, Patrick Leahy graduated from Saint Michael's College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in government.


Patrick Leahy was involved with the Knights of Columbus, the Saint Michael's College Glee Club, and the school's pre-law society and politics club.


Patrick Leahy was active with the Reserve Officers' Training Corps rifle team, and was a member of the varsity rifle team.


Patrick Leahy was on the staff of The Shield, the Saint Michael's College yearbook and WSSE, the school's AM radio station.


In 1964, Patrick Leahy received his Juris Doctor from the Georgetown University Law Center.


Patrick Leahy was a representative to the school's Student Bar Association.


In January 1965, Leahy was appointed as an assistant to Lewis E Springer Jr.


Patrick Leahy was elected to a full term in 1966 and reelected in 1970.


The murder, which Patrick Leahy later called among the most violent he saw while working as a prosecutor, went unsolved until 2023, when DNA testing of evidence left at the crime scene led to the identification of the perpetrator.


Patrick Leahy originally aspired to the governorship, but in 1974 ran for the United States Senate.


At age 34, Patrick Leahy was the youngest US senator in Vermont history and the first non-Republican senator from Vermont since 1856.


In 1980, Patrick Leahy defeated Republican Stewart Ledbetter by only 2,700 votes amid Ronald Reagan's landslide victory in the presidential election.


In 1986, he faced what was on paper an even stronger challenger in former Governor Richard Snelling, but Patrick Leahy turned it back, taking 63 percent of the vote.


In October 1981, Patrick Leahy introduced an amendment that would have increased the Energy Department's enforcement budget by $13 million.


Patrick Leahy called the Reagan administration's cuts to the enforcement budget "de facto amnesty" for violations made by alleged increases in prices for oil companies.

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On December 2,1981, Patrick Leahy voted for an amendment to Reagan's MX missiles proposal that would divert the silo system by $334 million, as well as earmark further research for other methods that would allow giant missiles to be based.


In March 1982, Patrick Leahy was named to the Senate Select Committee to Study Law Enforcement Undercover Activities of the Department of Justice, an eight-member select committee formed to investigate undercover operations.


On December 23,1982, Patrick Leahy voted for a five-cent per gallon increase on gasoline taxes across the US to finance highway repairs and mass transit.


On October 19,1983, Patrick Leahy voted for a bill establishing Martin Luther King Jr.


In March 1984, Patrick Leahy voted against a proposed constitutional amendment authorizing periods in public school for silent prayer, and against Reagan's unsuccessful proposal for a constitutional amendment permitting organized school prayer in public schools.


Patrick Leahy was appointed chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee on January 3,1987.


At a press conference afterward, Patrick Leahy said, "Even though it was declassified, I was way too careless about it" and accepted blame.


Disclosure of that information was against Intelligence Committee rules; Patrick Leahy said he hastened his already planned departure from the committee because he was so angry at himself.


Later that year, as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Leahy said that if Reagan could not produce an acceptable Supreme Court nominee to replace Lewis F Powell Jr.


In May 1989, Patrick Leahy urged the Agriculture Department to withdraw the proposals regarding the reduction of federal inspections.


Patrick Leahy has been active in the international effort to ban the production, export, and use of anti-personnel land mines.


Patrick Leahy supported the measure and introduced his own proposal that retained the $10 billion in loan guarantees, but "disbursed at a pace up to $2 billion a year for five years".


On November 20,1993, Patrick Leahy voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement.


In March 1994, during a news conference, Patrick Leahy pledged that he would preserve funding for TEFAP, noting his 1987 lawsuit against Agriculture Secretary Richard Edmund Lyng and declaring that TEFAP maintained the same level of significance as it did then.


Patrick Leahy praised the 41 schools involved with Public Voice for setting a good example for the rest of the country and cited the importance of school lunches to education.


Patrick Leahy said the Agriculture Department was the only federal agency to succeed in its downsizing efforts and called on other agencies to follow its example.


In October 1999, Patrick Leahy voted for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.


Patrick Leahy was touched by this gesture; he and Tuttle made several joint appearances during the campaign, and Patrick Leahy said of Tuttle that he was the "distilled essence of Vermonthood".


On September 13,2002, Patrick Leahy said in a radio interview that an investigation should be launched into whether the West Nile virus was a biological terrorism effort.


In 2004, Patrick Leahy was awarded the Electronic Privacy Information Center's Champion of Freedom Award, for efforts in information privacy and open government.

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Patrick Leahy is regarded as one of the leading privacy advocates in Congress.


When Patrick Leahy asked him to come over and talk to the Democrats, Cheney upbraided Patrick Leahy for the Senator's recent excoriations of Halliburton's activities in Iraq.


On November 2,2004, Patrick Leahy easily defeated his opponent, businessman Jack McMullen, with 70.6 percent of the vote.


On September 21,2005, Patrick Leahy announced his support for John Roberts to be Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.


On January 19,2006, Patrick Leahy announced that he would vote against Judge Samuel Alito, to be a justice of the Supreme Court.


Patrick Leahy has a mixed record on gun control, being one of the few Senate Democrats to vote against the Brady Bill.


Patrick Leahy voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement and is in favor of phasing out farm subsidies.


Patrick Leahy voted against the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement.


Patrick Leahy voted for the Defense of Marriage Act and was one of the few in his party to support the ban on intact dilation and extraction procedures.


On March 2,2006, Patrick Leahy was one of ten senators to vote against the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act, a bill to extend the USA PATRIOT Act.


On January 18,2007, Patrick Leahy received widespread coverage for his cross-examination of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, about the Maher Arar affair and the extraordinary rendition of Arar to Syria.


Patrick Leahy endorsed Barack Obama, the Democratic junior senator from Illinois, in the 2008 presidential election, and recorded a radio advertisement for the Obama campaign to be aired in Vermont.


On September 20,2010, Leahy introduced the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, Senate Bill S 3804, which would allow the court to issue a restraining order or injunction against Internet domain names which infringe upon copyright.


In May 2011, Patrick Leahy introduced the Protect IP Act to the Senate.


Patrick Leahy subsequently indicated that he would favor further research into provisions that raised objections.


Patrick Leahy chaired the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee from 1987 until 1995 the Judiciary Committee from 2001 to 2003 and from 2007 to 2015.


Patrick Leahy is one of the key Democratic leaders on Senate issues on rules for filling federal judgeships, via advise and consent.


Patrick Leahy serves as second-highest Democrat on the Appropriations Committee and as Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs.


Patrick Leahy was succeeded in this post by Orrin Hatch on January 3,2015, and became president pro tempore emeritus.


In February 2013, Patrick Leahy was one of 24 senators to sign a letter asserting that Sikh, Hindu and Arab Americans were often targets of violence because they were mistaken for radical Muslims and citing a need for the federal government to "begin tracking information about anti-Sikh, anti-Hindu and anti-Arab hate crimes as soon as possible so that law enforcement can more effectively respond to this threat".

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In June 2013, Patrick Leahy filed three amendments to an immigration reform package, including one that proposed recognizing same-sex marriages when one spouse is an American.


In January 2015, Patrick Leahy headed a congressional delegation to Cuba, meant to "impress upon Cuban leaders the importance of concrete results and positive momentum".


In July 2015, after the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was unveiled, an international agreement on the nuclear program of Iran, Patrick Leahy issued a statement saying it was preferable to war and calling it "unfortunate" that some members of Congress opposed the deal as the lack of deal would allow Iran to further develop nuclear weapons.


Patrick Leahy asked Sessions if he would be able to "prosecute and investigate" a president or elected official who had been accused of committing the aforementioned act.


In November 2017, Patrick Leahy was one of ten Democratic senators to sign a letter urging Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu to halt the planned demolitions of Palestinian villages Khan al-Ahmar and Sussiya, on the grounds that such action would further impede efforts to seek a two-state solution and "endanger Israel's future as a Jewish democracy".


On January 18,2018, Patrick Leahy announced he would not support the stopgap measure for the fiscal year to avert a government shutdown, saying the House bill left "too much undone, and it is woefully inadequate".


Patrick Leahy added that bipartisan support for the bill would only come from collaborating with Democrats and charged Republicans with "appealing for our support only after they've written a mishmash bill crafted behind closed doors".


In February 2018, Patrick Leahy was one of four senators to sign a letter to United States Secretary of Defense James Mattis requesting that the Pentagon estimate the cost of and time needed to assemble President Trump's requested military parade, calling the parade seemingly "inappropriate and wasteful" at a time of war.


In March 2018, Patrick Leahy wrote a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley in which he expressed his fear that "the damage being done to the FBI, and to our nation's institutions more broadly, will far outlast any current crises unless we take decisive, bipartisan action" and requested an oversight hearing on the Trump administration's criticisms of the FBI and Justice Department.


In September 2018, as the Senate weighed the first spending package for the 2019 fiscal year, Patrick Leahy advocated for increasing the spending cap for a veterans' care program.


When this proposal was not implemented in the final version of the package, which consisted of military construction and veterans' affairs, legislative branch, and energy and water, Patrick Leahy warned the decision would leave the VA choice program unfunded.


In March 2019, Patrick Leahy was one of nine Democratic senators to sign a letter to Salman of Saudi Arabia requesting the release of human rights lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair and writer Raif Badawi, women's rights activists Loujain al-Hathloul and Samar Badawi, and Dr Walid Fitaih.


Patrick Leahy endorsed fellow Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders's 2020 presidential campaign.


In May 2021, POLITICO reported that Patrick Leahy was "leaning toward [running for a ninth term]" and asking his Senate colleagues for support.


On November 15,2021, Patrick Leahy announced that he was not running for a ninth term.


In September 2022, Patrick Leahy was nominated as a representative of the United States to the Seventy-seventh session of the United Nations General Assembly.


Patrick Leahy has held progressive political positions that are generally in line with those of the state.


Patrick Leahy has supported abortion rights, rejecting proposals to limit minors or those stationed on military bases from having the procedure performed.


Patrick Leahy voted against the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in 1995 and for it between 1997 and 2003.


On March 11,1982, Leahy voted against a measure sponsored by Orrin Hatch that sought to reverse Roe v Wade and allow Congress and individual states to adopt laws banning abortions.

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In 2019, Patrick Leahy worked with Senators Sherrod Brown, Susan Collins, and David Perdue on a bipartisan effort to ensure students have access to local foods.


In March 2019, Patrick Leahy was one of 38 senators to sign a letter to United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue warning that dairy farmers "have continued to face market instability and are struggling to survive the fourth year of sustained low prices", and urging his department to "strongly encourage these farmers to consider the Dairy Margin Coverage program".


Patrick Leahy proposed a companion to the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which would extend protections to states that have legalized cannabis in some form.


Patrick Leahy argued that the Chinese government should commit to ending the use of torture, organ harvesting of prisoners, and propaganda against minorities.


In February 2016, Patrick Leahy introduced the "Restoring Statutory Rights Act", to "prevent companies from imposing forced arbitration in cases covered by consumer protection laws, as well as employment discrimination and other civil rights matters".


Patrick Leahy has been supported by the NAACP and is outspoken in his support for affirmative action.


Patrick Leahy has supported the legalization of gay marriage and reducing discrimination against gays and lesbians.


Patrick Leahy has called for the domestic partners of federal employees to receive the same benefits as heterosexual couples.


Patrick Leahy is a lead sponsor of the Senate version of the Email Privacy Act, which would reform the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 and enhance privacy protections for email.


Patrick Leahy sponsored this bipartisan bill with Republican Mike Lee of Utah.


Patrick Leahy has called for a moratorium on the death penalty and for more DNA testing for death row inmates.


In October 2017, Patrick Leahy cosponsored a bill aimed at easing sentences for some nonviolent offenders, such as for drug crimes, while beefing up other tough-on-crime laws.


Patrick Leahy said capital punishment fails "by any objective measure", citing its finality and juries' propensity to mistakenly convict.


Patrick Leahy was a longtime critic of the Iraq War, and spoke in favor of timetables for troop withdrawal, saying the country needs well-trained employees in both foreign service and private industry to help repair damage to its civilian structure.


Patrick Leahy has been critical of the PATRIOT Act, even though he has voted to reauthorize altered versions of it.


In June 2013, following the disclosure of PRISM and other covert surveillance activities by the National Security Agency, Patrick Leahy introduced a bill that would tighten guidelines related to the acquisition of FISA warrants for domestic surveillance and shorten the current FISA authorization by two years.


Patrick Leahy has always opposed the opening and operation of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, and supported punishment of war profiteering.


Patrick Leahy has rejected proposals to remove the Estate Tax and Alternative Minimum Tax, and he has spoken out strongly against cutting taxes for the wealthy.


Patrick Leahy has strongly supported the rights of employees, and has voted to increase the minimum wage and allow for more union organization.


Patrick Leahy has voted against a free trade proposal, CAFTA, but supported normalizing trade relations with China.

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Patrick Leahy has supported bills that would increase hydrogen car production, uphold Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, set a goal of reducing oil consumption by 40 percent in 2025, and increase solar and wind power funding.


In 2011, Patrick Leahy voted against limiting EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.


In October 2016, Patrick Leahy was one of five senators to sign a letter to President Obama requesting that the administration halt work on the Dakota Access Pipeline, until the permitting process of the Army Corps could "be transparent and include public notice and participation, formal and meaningful tribal consultation, and adequate environmental review", and stating their support for the "tribes along the pipeline route in their fight against the Dakota Access pipeline project".


Patrick Leahy spoke strongly against a proposed constitutional ban on flag burning and on its implications for freedom of speech and expression.


Patrick Leahy has supported gun control, including requiring background checks at gun shows and allowing for lawsuits against firearms manufacturers.


Patrick Leahy voted in favor of prohibiting foreign and UN aid that inhibits gun ownership.


In January 2019, Patrick Leahy was one of 40 senators to introduce the Background Check Expansion Act, a bill that would require background checks for either the sale or transfer of all firearms, including unlicensed sellers.


In February 2019, Patrick Leahy was one of 38 senators to sign a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham calling on him to "hold a hearing" on universal background checks and noting Graham's statement in the press that he "intended to have the Committee work on 'red flag' legislation and potentially background checks, both actions" the senators indicated their support for.


Patrick Leahy has stated the importance of increasing the prevalence of public health care, during times of economic downturn.


Patrick Leahy voted to increase Medicare benefits and to allow this organization to negotiate lower-priced, bulk prescriptions from pharmaceutical manufacturers.


Patrick Leahy has broken with Democratic leadership in supporting allowing states to make bulk drug purchases on their own, an idea he has characterized as an important short-term solution until Congress can agree on a similar proposal.


In March 2017, after House Republicans withdrew the American Health Care Act, Patrick Leahy released a statement touting the accomplishments of the Affordable Care Act and charging Republicans with trying to undo the record with a bill that was really "a massive tax cut for the wealthiest Americans".


In September 2017, Patrick Leahy was one of 16 senators to co-sponsor the Medicare for All Act, introduced by his fellow Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, which would establish a single-payer healthcare system in the United States.


In December 2018, Patrick Leahy was one of 42 senators to sign a letter to Trump administration officials Alex Azar, Seema Verma, and Steve Mnuchin arguing that the administration was improperly using Section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act to authorize states to "increase health care costs for millions of consumers while weakening protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions".


In February 2018, after the Supreme Court declined to immediately consider the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Patrick Leahy said that Congress should have acted on immigration reform the previous year, and urged Congress to act, while admitting the Supreme Court decision had reduced pressure to pass legislation quickly.


In January 2019, Patrick Leahy was one of 20 senators to sponsor the Dreamer Confidentiality Act, a bill banning the Department of Homeland Security from passing information collected on DACA recipients to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, the Department of Justice, or any other law enforcement agency with exceptions in the case of fraudulent claims, national security issues, or non-immigration related felonies.


In May 2018, Patrick Leahy was one of 12 senators to sign a letter to Trump urging him not to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, on the grounds that "Iran could either remain in the agreement and seek to isolate the United States from our closest partners, or resume its nuclear activities" if the US pulled out and that both possibilities "would be detrimental to our national security interests".


Patrick Leahy has signed resolutions in support of Israel's right to self-defense, but has been critical of alleged human rights violations in the region, especially after the 2008 Operation Cast Lead.


In 2011, Patrick Leahy initially promoted a bill to cut the military aid to three elite IDF units after reports of human rights violations during the Gaza flotilla raid and in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.


In February 2016, Patrick Leahy joined ten House of Representatives members asking the State Department to investigate suspected human rights violations by Egyptian and Israeli security forces, in particular citing claims of extrajudicial killings that could trigger the Patrick Leahy Law, which can cause the suspension of American military aid to countries guilty of such abuses.

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In May 2020, Patrick Leahy voiced his opposition to Israel's plan to annex parts of the occupied Palestinian territories.


In June 2018, Patrick Leahy was one of seven Democrats to sign a letter cautioning Trump that they would not support lifting sanctions against North Korea unless a nuclear agreement between it and the US met five standards outlined in the letter.


In December 2010, Patrick Leahy voted for the ratification of New START, a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation obliging both countries to have no more than 1,550 strategic warheads and 700 launchers deployed during the next seven years, and providing for a continuation of on-site inspections that halted when START I expired the previous year.


In February 2017, Patrick Leahy was one of 11 senators to sign a letter to United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions expressing their concern "about credible allegations that the Trump campaign, transition team, and Administration has colluded with the Russian government, including most recently the events leading to the resignation of Lieutenant General Michael Flynn as National Security Adviser".


Patrick Leahy has consistently voted to uphold Social Security and has opposed school vouchers.


Patrick Leahy supported Joe Biden's plan to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan.


In 2013, Patrick Leahy received the annual US Senator John Heinz Award for Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official from the Jefferson Awards for Public Service.


Marcelle Patrick Leahy graduated from the nursing school at Burlington's former DeGoesbriand Hospital.


Patrick Leahy is a registered nurse and has worked at hospitals in Burlington, Washington, DC, and Arlington, Virginia.


On January 26,2021, Patrick Leahy was hospitalized "out of an abundance of caution" after feeling ill.


Patrick Leahy's hospitalization occurred hours after he had been sworn in as the presiding officer for Trump's second impeachment trial.


Patrick Leahy underwent hip replacement surgery the next day, and had a second operation related to his hip injury on July 19,2022.


Patrick Leahy was hospitalized again on October 13,2022, after feeling unwell.


Patrick Leahy was kept overnight for "tests and observation" and discharged the following day.


Patrick Leahy is a Roman Catholic and attends Saint Andrew's Church in Waterbury, Vermont.


Patrick Leahy attends Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, DC.


Patrick Leahy is a fan of comic books, and in particular the character Batman.


Patrick Leahy wrote the foreword to The Dark Knight Archives, Volume 1, the preface essay for Batman: Death of Innocents, and the introduction to Green Arrow: The Archer's Quest.


Patrick Leahy has made several cameo appearances in Batman television episodes and films, beginning with an uncredited cameo in Batman Forever.


Patrick Leahy appeared in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, playing Senator Purrington, in a scene set during Superman's Senate hearing which is subsequently destroyed by an explosion.

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All royalties and fees from Patrick Leahy's roles are donated to charities, primarily the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Vermont, where he learned to read as a child.


In March 2023, the University of Vermont announced that Patrick Leahy had joined the university as a president's distinguished fellow.


Patrick Leahy has been assigned roles as an advisor and mentor to students and faculty members, a classroom guest lecturer, and a university representative at public events.