Richard Craig Shelby (born May 6, 1934) is the senior U.S. Senator from Alabama. First elected to the Senate in 1986, he is the ranking member of the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and was its chairman from 2003 to 2007. Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Shelby received his law degree from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, where he went on to serve as city prosecutor (1963–1971). During this period he worked as a U.S. Magistrate for the Northern District of Alabama (1966–1970) and Special Assistant Attorney General of Alabama (1969–1971). He won a seat in the Alabama Senate in 1970. In 1978 he was elected to the United States House of Representatives from the 7th District, where he was among a group of conservative Democrats known as the boll weevils. Shelby won a tight race in 1986 for the U.S. Senate. Originally elected as a Democrat, Shelby switched to the Republican Party in 1994 when Republicans gained the majority in Congress midway through President Bill Clinton's first term. He was re-elected by a large margin in 1998 and has faced no electoral opposition since. With a reputation as a moderate Republican, Shelby has taken conservative stances on taxation, abortion and immigration, while siding with the Democratic stance on other issues, such as opposing free-trade agreements and voting against the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act. During the 1990s he was a strong opponent of the Clinton administration's spending and tax policies, while supporting some gun control measures. He served on the Select Committee on Intelligence, where he battled CIA leaders and attempted to curtail the release of information to the public. A federal investigation uncovered that he had released classified memos to the Fox News Channel in 2002, but no charges were pressed. He chaired the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee from 2003 to 2007 and remains the committee's Republican ranking member. During President Barack Obama's administration he placed a hold on 70 government nominees to draw attention to certain national security issues. He has opposed the bulk of the Democratic legislative agenda since they took control of the Senate in 2007, including economic bailout measures and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Shelby was born in Birmingham, Alabama, the son of Alice L. (née Skinner) and Ozie Houston Shelby. He attended the University of Alabama, receiving an undergraduate degree in 1957 and a Juris Doctor in 1963. Shelby is a member of the American Bar Association and Alabama State Bar, as well as the American Judicature Society, Alabama Law Institute, Delta Chi Fraternity, and Phi Alpha Delta legal fraternity. Shelby currently lives in Tuscaloosa with his wife, Annette Nevin Shelby. They have two sons, Richard Jr., and Claude Nevin.
Shelby was a city prosecutor in Tuscaloosa, Alabama from 1963 to 1971. From 1966 to 1970, he was a U.S.
Magistrate for the Northern District of Alabama; from 1969 to 1971, Shelby was a Special Assistant State Attorney General. Shelby began his legislative career as a member of the Alabama Senate in 1970, serving until 1978, when he was elected to the House of Representatives from the Tuscaloosa-based 7th District. He was reelected three times. He was one of the more conservative Democrats in Congress, and a member of the boll weevils, a group of moderate to conservative leaning Democrats who often worked with Republican President Ronald Reagan on defense issues.
In 1986, Shelby won the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat held by Republican Jeremiah Denton, the first Republican elected to the Senate from Alabama since Reconstruction. He won a very close race as the Democrats regained control of the Senate.
He was easily re-elected in 1992 even as Bill Clinton lost Alabama's electoral votes. On November 9, 1994, Shelby switched his party affiliation to Republican, one day after the Republicans won control of both houses in the midterm elections, giving the Republicans a 53-47 majority in the Senate. He won his first full term as a Republican in 1998 by a large margin, and faced no significant opposition in 2004 or 2010. Shelby remains popular in Alabama. A September 2009 poll showed he had a 58% approval rating, with 35% disapproving.
Shelby is currently co-chair of the Congressional Privacy Caucus and Zero Capital Gains Tax Caucus. He is also the Senate co-chair of the National Security Caucus. In addition, he is a member of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Senate Centrist Coalition.
Shelby took a leading role in the resistance to bailing out the banks and other corporations (such as AIG), both under the Bush Administration, in 2008, and the Obama Administration, beginning in 2009. He is against abortion, and supports the Federal Marriage Amendment. He has also been a staunch advocate of a flat tax and of the Bush Administration's tax cuts. He cites disagreements with the Democrats on tax policy as one of the main reasons he became a Republican; he feels the Democrats are too willing to enact tax increases. Among the bills sponsored by Shelby over the years have been bills to make English the sole language of the federal government, to limit federal government spending by statute, and to provide a moratorium on certain forms of immigration. Shelby opposed President Barack Obama's health reform legislation; he voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in December 2009, and he voted against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.
August 1st, 2011