Chris Dodd represented the state of Connecticut in Congress for 36 years. He served six years in the U.S. House of Representatives and 30 years in the U.S. Senate. A respected legislator who worked in a bipartisan fashion to better peoples’ lives, Dodd is known for his work to make America safer, stronger and more prosperous. Dodd currently serves as chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America.
Dodd is perhaps best known for bringing much-needed attention to children’s issues. He formed the first children’s caucus in the Senate and spent eight years fighting to enact the Family and Medical Leave Act, which has helped ensure that 50 million Americans don’t have to choose between the job they need and the family they love. He recently authored legislation which was signed into law in 2010 to provide additional family and medical leave for those caring for wounded soldiers. Understanding that for many families taking unpaid time off to care for their loved ones is impossible, Dodd worked to ensure that more Americans can take advantage of this program and continue receiving pay. He also authored and enacted landmark legislation to ensure that our nation provides better access to safe and affordable childcare.
A common-sense leader who fought to put our nation’s fiscal house in order and who offered targeted tax relief for working families, Dodd offered a "pay as you go" budget proposal in 1982 and played an important role in the 1990s to restore the fiscal discipline that for the first time since World War II led to record budget surpluses. He also fought to reform our campaign finance laws.
Dodd has a reputation for independence, vision and effectiveness. Even before the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Dodd saw a need to help local committees better prepare for man-made and natural disasters. Working with senators on both sides of the political aisle, he successfully authored the legislation to help towns and cities hire, equip and train firefighters and other emergency responders. This legislation helped communities throughout America better protect their citizens from the risks of terrorism, fires, floods and other disasters.
After the controversial presidential election of 2000, Dodd’s leadership skills were again on display. He authored legislation that contained a simple yet profound truth: that in America, every voter should have an equal opportunity to vote and have that vote counted. This legislation was enacted as the Help America Vote Act—which has been called the most important voting rights legislation since the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Dodd believes that “the best social program is a good job.” Toward that end, he dedicated himself to helping Americans create and win the best jobs in the 21st century global economy. He is a long-time supporter of job-training initiatives that enable American workers to acquire higher-skilled, better-paying jobs. He co-authored the landmark Sarbanes-Oxley law, which has strengthened accounting and managerial practices for the benefit of companies and those workers who invest in them. He worked to rein in runaway energy and health care costs to curb the unprecedented burdens on American businesses and employees. In addition, he was a long-time supporter of the Research and Development Tax Credit and of greater investments in scientific research to spur innovation and job creation. While helping American companies compete abroad, Dodd believes that we must do more to help our companies keep good jobs here at home. In his view, American policy should encourage the export of American goods and services—not American jobs.
Recognizing that the information age offers great challenges as well as opportunities, Dodd also fought to protect people’s basic right to privacy, authoring legislation to protect individuals’ financial, medical and genetic records. He wrote and successfully enacted a measure requiring Internet service providers to notify parents of how to obtain software to screen out web content unsuitable for children. He continues to be an outspoken opponent of any attempt by the government to trample the civil liberties we enjoy and the Constitution we hold dear. In 2007, Dodd worked to derail the (FISA) legislation which would have provided immunity for telecom companies that participated with the Bush Administration in spying on individual citizens.
A strong advocate of better education for America’s children, Dodd consistently fought to expand and improve the Head Start program and ultimately was honored as National Head Start "Senator of the Decade" for his efforts. A leader in the movement to reform the No Child Left Behind Act, Dodd spearheaded efforts to ensure that schools are measured fairly, teachers are treated as professionals and students receive the resources and supports that they need to ensure that they graduate ready to compete in the global economy. Founder and chair of the bipartisan Senate Afterschool Caucus, Dodd worked with his colleagues from across the aisle to ensure that high-quality afterschool programming is available to every child and family that needs it. Throughout his career he was an outspoken critic of rising tuition rates, led successful efforts to increase the availability of federal financial aid, wrote legislation supporting child care centers on campus for working students and worked to protect the financial interests of students who take out private student loans. A leader on issues related to national and public service, Dodd worked to pass Summer of Service legislation that would provide middle school students with a chance to serve in their local communities over the summer months. He also worked to expand and protect loan forgiveness for public servants such as teachers and Peace Corps volunteers.
Answering John F. Kennedy’s call to service, Dodd joined the Peace Corps, serving in the rural Dominican Republic village of Moncion from 1966 to 1968, where he became fluent in Spanish. Dodd was the leading champion of the Peace Corps in the United States Senate, pushing for the program’s expansion to new countries such as Vietnam and to return to previously served countries such as Haiti. Additionally, Dodd consistently fought to increase both the funding for and the number of volunteers who serve in the Peace Corps. Dodd authored the Peace Corps Volunteer Empowerment Act which is designed to bring the organization into the digital age, encourage more input from current and returned volunteers and increase the number of volunteers with at least five years of relevant work experience.
As a senior member of the Senate committee responsible for health care, Dodd was a voice for innovation in patient care. He worked to support community health centers and initiatives aimed at child nutrition, autism, under-age drinking prevention, maternal and child health and infant mortality prevention. He also worked to modernize the Food and Drug Administration approval process for drugs and medical devices, getting innovative therapies to patients more quickly without compromising safety and effectiveness. He authored critically important legislation to protect the mentally ill from abusive and deadly restraint and seclusion practices in mental hospitals. He supported a patient’s bill of rights, which would give Americans basic assurances in their health care services and a greater right to choose their health care provider. And he enacted legislation to ensure that the medicines and medical devices used in children are safe and effective for their use.
A staunch friend of law enforcement, Dodd voted for passage of the landmark crime bill which put 100,000 new cops on the street across the country, including more than 1,000 in Connecticut. He supported the Brady Bill, which imposed a five-day waiting period on handgun purchases and supported the ban on deadly assault weapons. He authored a bill requiring safety locks on guns and supported legislation to prevent anyone convicted of domestic violence from owning a gun. In addition, he worked for tough new laws to investigate, prosecute and punish criminals who prey upon children.
A recipient of the Edmund S. Muskie Distinguished Public Service Award recognizing leadership in foreign policy, Dodd’s record reflects his commitment to a strong national defense and his desire to build a more secure world. As a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he was a recognized expert on Latin and South America and worked to foster peace, prosperity and democracy abroad. He also helped lead the successful fight to save Submarine Base New London, where our nation’s most sophisticated undersea arsenal is developed and based and worked with the Connecticut delegation to ensure funding for the production of two additional submarines per year. He took steps to change Administration policies to allow the export and loss of critical defense technologies. And he was a leader in the Senate to ensure that American soldiers have the best possible equipment on the battlefield.
In the Senate, Dodd served as chairman of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Peace Corps and Narcotics. He was a senior member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the chairman of its Children and Families Subcommittee. He was also a member of the Rules and Administration Committee.
Dodd’s commitment to public service and human rights was instilled at an early age by his parents, the late Senator Thomas J. Dodd and Grace Murphy Dodd. Thomas Dodd was one of the lead prosecutors during the Nuremberg war crimes tribunals before he was elected to both the House of Representatives and the United States Senate. Dodd is the first Connecticut son to follow his father into the Senate and the youngest person ever elected to the United States Senate in Connecticut history. He is also the first Connecticut Senator popularly elected to five terms. Dodd ran for the Democratic nomination for president in 2007.
Following his graduation from Providence College, Dodd, who is fluent in Spanish, spent two years in the Peace Corps working in a rural village in the Dominican Republic. Upon returning to the United States, Dodd enlisted in the Army National Guard and later served in the U.S. Army Reserves. In 1972, he earned a law degree from the University Of Louisville School Of Law. He practiced law in New London before his election to Congress in 1974, where he served three terms in the House of Representatives on behalf of Connecticut’s Second District.
Dodd was born in Willimantic, Connecticut, the fifth of six children. Dodd lives in Washington, DC with his wife, Jackie Clegg Dodd and their daughters Grace and Christina.