tom harkin

Tom Harkin — From Tiger Cages to Pinochet

Harkin, right, listens to Cau Nguyen Loi describe what it was like to be shackled and beaten inside a 'tiger cage' on Con Son Island, Vietnam. (POOL/AFP/Getty Images File Photo)

Sen. Tom Harkin's human rights legacy began with exposing the tiger cages in a secret South Vietnam prison.  

"Let me show you," the retiring Iowa Democrat said as he retrieved a large, clear plastic bag that contained a July 1970 edition of Life magazine. The magazine published photos Harkin took as a congressional aide depicting abuse of political prisoners by the U.S.-supported South Vietnamese government.  

Tom Harkin Is Reflecting, but Trying Not to Stare

Harkin is interviewed by CQ Roll Call in his Capitol Hill office. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

At the end of an extended interview in his Senate office, Tom Harkin realized he had neglected to show off a prized possession — his father's Works Progress Administration card.  

It's the role of government policies like the WPA that have guided the progressive Iowa Democrat's career.  

Harkin's HELP Committee Shows Off the Lost Art of Legislating

Alexander, left, and Harkin have racked up legislative victories on the HELP Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Ask Sen. Tom Harkin about his committee's work this Congress and he's ready to rattle off a key statistic.  

"Fourteen bills. More than any other committee in the Congress. Fourteen bills signed into law."  

Senate Democrats Eye End Run Around Hobby Lobby Case (Updated)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:19 p.m. | Senate Democrats plan to "fight" to ensure women retain access through their insurance to contraceptives, after the Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case.  

Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin said in a statement that while he certainly opposed the Supreme Court's 5-4 opinion in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that said closely held corporations did not have to provide contraceptive services as part of health insurance plans if they have religious exemptions, he noted the scope was somewhat narrow.  

Appropriators Punt on Labor-HHS Spending Bill

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate Appropriations Committee won't consider a typically contentious federal spending bill this week.  

And it was unclear Wednesday whether Sen. Tom Harkin will ever get the chance to bring his final Labor-HHS-Education spending bill through the full Appropriations Committee.  

Dole, Harkin Renew Disability Treaty Push After SCOTUS Decision

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole is making another push for ratification of the U.N. disabilities treaty.  

The Kansas Republican issued a statement late Monday saying that the Supreme Court's decision in Bond v. United States provided a path forward for the Senate to consent to ratification of the treaty, which stalled on the floor during the 2012 lame-duck session, with an ailing Dole present on the floor.  

Congress Gets Away With Free Foreign Trips (Updated)

Some members of Congress didn't stick around Washington during the cold month of February, but they found better places to be on free trips to foreign lands.  

The big free trips during February included eleven members on the trip to Israel sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation . Another nineteen went to Cartagena, Colombia, with expenses paid by the Aspen Institute, the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund . Other members went to Japan, Australia, and Belgium. The trip to Australia for one member and his spouse was worth almost $50,000.  

Retiring Senators Holding More Than $5 Million in Accounts

Senators leaving Congress at the end of this year currently hold $5,334,251 in their campaign accounts and leadership PACs.  

Campaign committees may use the funds for any lawful purpose, but the funds cannot be converted to personal use. Some members donate the funds to non-profits, charities, educational institutions, political parties, other candidates (within limits), or refund contributions to the original donors. Or they could leave the funds in the campaign account, and keep it going for years.  

Smoke-Out: Harkin, Senate Democrats Ask Drug Stores to Follow CVS' Lead

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Eight Senate Democrats are pushing other drug store chains to follow the lead of CVS Caremark and ditch the habit of selling cigarettes.  

"We recognize the legality of selling and profiting from tobacco products, however we also believe that you are in a position to have a major positive impact on public health," the senators wrote.