Political positions of Christopher Dodd

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During his years in the House and Senate, Chris Dodd has built a long record of political positions on important issues to the citizens of the United States. His views became of national interest during Dodd's 2008 presidential campaign.

Dodd favors a one year troop withdrawal timetable to end the Iraq War[1] and is against warrantless surveillance.[2] Dodd has supported amending the Family Medical Leave Act to include paid leave,[3] restoring the rule of law to the U.S. immigration system,[4] and a corporate carbon tax to combat global warming.[5]

Rankings by voter groups[edit]

Dodd's rankings from Americans for Democratic Action have been 95 percent and above since 2000.[6] Similarly, Dodd receives low ratings from conservative groups, such as the John Birch Society, the American Conservative Union, and the Christian Coalition of America.[7]

Foreign policy[edit]

Dodd with Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont at the Department of Defense.

The Iraq War[edit]

Dodd voted in favor of the Iraq War Resolution in 2002 but has since become an opponent of the war.[8] Dodd has said the Iraq War has been waged “for all the wrong reasons” and that it is eroding both the nation's security and its moral leadership.[9]

Dodd has criticized his congressional colleagues for failing to be more forceful penetrating President George W. Bush's Iraq War troop surge of 2007. "This was debating about debating. This was the House and the Senate at some of its worst. ... I think we missed an opportunity to put our foot down and stop [the surge]."[10]

In May 2007, he voted in the Senate against continued funding for the Iraq war.[9]

Of the 2008 presidential candidates, he was the only one to co-sponsor the Democrats' most aggressive anti-war bill.[9]

On 16 November, he was the only Democrat in the Senate to vote against a bill which would have funded the war while requiring the beginning of troops withdrawals, because, he said, the bill did not go far enough to end the war.[11]

Trade policy[edit]

Dodd voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and said in 2003 that such trade agreements have "...brought increased cooperation and communication. They have been positive forces that promote political and economic stability, as well as growth and democracy."[12] He believed then that "successful efforts to achieve a Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), and eventually in 2005, a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), will help further these goals. As well, the United States stands to benefit along with our neighbors from increased trade relations throughout the hemisphere."

However, on 9 November 2007, he came out against the Peru Free Trade Agreement, saying "Americans are looking for change - but there's nothing new in supporting the failed trade policy of the last six years, which is partially responsible for the loss of 3 million manufacturing jobs. It's disappointing that Senators Clinton and Obama, in supporting this agreement, would support more of the same, which will only add to our deficit, taking jobs away from hardworking Americans and shipping them elsewhere."[13]

He continued that the U.S. "must take a 'strategic pause' and not sign any new trade agreements until we have a model for trade that raises -- not lowers -- living standards for the vast majority of Americans and the people in countries with which we trade."[13]


In June 2007, Dodd expressed his support for unilateral military intervention in Darfur to help put an end to the humanitarian crisis.

Domestic policy[edit]

Credit Cards[edit]

In May 2009, Dodd was the author and lead sponsor of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act of 2009, which received overwhelming bipartisan support in the House and Senate and was signed into law by President Barack Obama on May 22, 2009. The law requires card companies give cardholders 45 days notice of any interest rate increases, prevents card companies from retroactively increasing interest rates on the existing balance of a cardholder in good standing for reasons unrelated to the cardholder's behavior with that card, and prohibits card companies from arbitrarily changing the terms of their contract with a cardholder, banning the so-called practice of "any-time, any-reason repricing." Also included in the bill were provisions requiring companies to give cardholders time to pay their bills by requiring card companies to mail billing statements 25 calendar days before the due date and individuals under the age of 21 to either show income or have a co-signer in order to obtain a credit card. In a conference call with reporters after the bill was signed, Dodd stated his intention to continue work on capping credit card interest rates at thirty percent and to establish limits on fees that merchants pay when a customer uses a credit card for a purchase.[14]

Civil liberties[edit]

Dodd supported the interests of the American Civil Liberties Union between 60% and 80% of the time from 2000 to 2006.[15]

In 2004, he introduced a bill to enact a Federal Shield law.[16]

Dodd, along with Senators Patrick Leahy, Russ Feingold, and Robert Menendez introduced the "Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007", which he claims "restores Habeas Corpus rights, bars evidence gained through torture or coercion and reinstates U.S. adherence to the Geneva Conventions in order to protect the nation’s military personnel abroad." The bill is supported by the ACLU, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, The Center for Victims of Torture, Open Society Institute, and Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International.[17]

Warrantless surveillance[edit]

On 18 October 2007, he placed a hold on a Senate bill revamping the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a procedural move that denies the party leadership the unanimous consent they need to bring a bill to the Senate floor.[18] He objected to the bill's grant of amnesty to telecom companies who spied on their customers on behalf of the executive branch without a judicial warrant.[18] "By granting immunity to telecommunications companies that participated in the President's terrorist surveillance program, even though such participation may have been illegal, the FISA reform bill sets a dangerous precedent by giving the President sweeping authorization to neglect the right to privacy that Americans are entitled to under the Constitution," Dodd explained in a statement outlining his concerns.[2]

Civil rights[edit]

Chris Dodd was rated 60% by the ACLU, indicating a mixed civil rights voting record. He voted for expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation but voted for prohibiting same-sex marriage in 1996. He voted against an Amendment to prohibit flag burning and legislation banning affirmative action hiring with federal funds. As of 2007, he supported civil unions for gays and lesbians, but had opposed same-sex marriage, including in the 2008 election. However, on June 22, 2009, Dodd announced that his position on the issue, has evolved, as it has for most Democratic politicians.

Energy and environmental issues[edit]

Dodd has pointed out that the U.S. borrows $1 billion per day to buy foreign oil, and has said that using nonrenewable energy sources such as oil "is an insane status quo policy... we will be indicted by history for this."[19] Dodd has proposed a carbon tax on corporations as a measure to reduced carbon dioxide emissions and reduce global warming.[5] Dodd believes the tax could provide about $50 billion in revenue annually and be used to develop renewable energy sources.[19]

He also advocates increasing the fuel efficiency requirements for vehicles to 50 miles per gallon by 2017, and has noted that requirements were previously higher from 1983-1984.[19]

Dodd supported the interests of the League of Conservation Voters between 80% and 100% of the time from 1999 to 2006.[20] Dodd's record on environmental issues was rated 80% and 100% of the time from 1999 to 2006 by the League of Conservation Voters, indicating environmental-friendly views[5].

In April 2004, Dodd stated that the "EPA must do better on mercury clean-up."[6]

National service[edit]

Dodd has proposed mandatory community service for all high school students.[21] Dodd, a former Peace Corps volunteer who served in the Dominican Republic, has also proposed doubling the size of the Peace Corps to 15,000 volunteers by 2011 and expanding AmeriCorps to 1 million participants by the end of his presidency.[21] Dodd says his goal is to see 40 million people volunteering in some form by 2020.[21][22]

In 2009, Dodd voted in favor of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which expands the number of positions in AmeriCorps from 75,000 to 250,000 by 2017.

Child care[edit]

Dodd is perhaps best known for bringing attention to children’s issues. He formed the first children’s caucus in the Senate and spent almost a decade fighting to enact the Family and Medical Leave Act.

He also authored legislation aimed at providing better access to safe and affordable child care.[23] Dodd has received a 100% rating from the Children's Defense Fund each year since 2000.[24]

Gun issues[edit]

Dodd was one of 16 senators who voted against the Vitter Amendment, which prohibits federal funding of the confiscation of legally owned firearms during a disaster.

In 2009, Dodd voted against an amendment to the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act of 2009 introduced by Oklahoma U.S. Senator Tom Coburn to allow firearms to be carried by visitors in national parks and refuges.

Health care[edit]

Dodd is a senior member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. Dodd voted in favor of expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program [25] and has consistently supported Connecticut's community health centers and initiatives aimed at child nutrition, maternal and child health, and infant mortality prevention. He successfully led the effort to modernize the approval process for drugs and medical devices in the United States Food and Drug Administration and authored legislation to protect the mentally ill from abusive and deadly restraint and seclusion practices in mental hospitals. He continues to push for a patient’s bill of rights.[23] Dodd supports extending Medicaid to poorer families. He was rated 100% by APHA, indicating a pro-public health record.

In June 2009, Dodd served as the lead Senate sponsor of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, a bill which gives the Food and Drug Administration broad powers over the manufacture, sale and marketing of cigarettes, permits the FDA to demand larger warning labels on cigarette packages, allow regulators to require that tobacco companies disclose the contents of their products, prohibits cigarette-makers from using terms such as "light" or "mild" to suggest that their products have reduced health risks, and seeks to further prohibit the advertisement of tobacco products to children. The Hartford Courant called the act the "most significant new regulations on the tobacco industry since the 1960s." [26] The bill was signed into law by President Obama on June 22, 2009.

That year, Senator Edward Kennedy appointed Dodd his "Chief Deputy" for health care reform in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. In June 2009, Dodd introduced the Affordable Health Choices Act, which seeks to provide universal health insurance for every American.[27]

Marijuana decriminalization[edit]

During the HuffPo/Yahoo!/Slate Candidate Mashup (September 2007), Dodd responded to a surprise question regarding the legalization of marijuana. He stated "We're cluttering up our prisons, frankly, when we draw distinctions" between alcohol and marijuana, Dodd said. "So I would decriminalize, or certainly advocate as president, the decriminalization of statutes that would incarcerate or severely penalize people for using marijuana." [28] But Dodd does not support full legalization of marijuana: "I want to be careful, and I know there are a lot of people across the political spectrum who would just totally legalize [Marijuana]. I don't go that far."

In contrast to Dodd's relatively liberal position on marijuana, his father, Senator Thomas Dodd, was instrumental in enacting prohibition and criminalization of LSD during the 1960s to counter the hippie movement.[29]

Tort reform[edit]

While Dodd opposes immunity for telecom firms who cooperated in terrorist surveillance programs, he has favored tort reform measures, such as the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PSLRA) which he co-sponsored in the Senate. The PSLRA was originally developed as part of Newt Gingrich's Contract With America. However, in August 2007 he urged the Bush administration not to side with bankers involved in a corporate takeover who were being sued by investors who had lost their life savings in a case related to the collapse of Enron.[30]


On immigration reform policy, Dodd supports the United States–Mexico barrier and improving technology to secure the borders.[19] As President, he would enforce penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants and work with nations to the south to firm up their economies.[19]

On a December 4, 2006 Democratic Hispanic radio address he said we need to "bring millions of undocumented workers out of the shadows." [31] In May, Dodd expressed support for a version of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 and criticized Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain for abandoning the debate.[32] The immigration reform bill ultimately failed a cloture vote on 28 June 2007, despite Dodd's vote to close debate.[33]

In a Democratic presidential debate on 30 October 2008, Dodd expressed opposition to the proposal by New York Governor Eliot Spitzer to allow illegal aliens to obtain driver's licenses, calling a license a "privilege" and contrasting his position to the equivocations of Senator Hillary Clinton,[34] who came out in support of the proposal the following day.[35] Two weeks later, Clinton adopted Dodd's position and came out in opposition to the plan.[36]


Dodd was rated 75% by CURE, indicating pro-rehabilitation crime votes. He supports capital punishment in certain circumstances.[37] As a Senator, he voted in favor of a moratorium on the death penalty, but opposed a moratorium as a presidential candidate. He also voted against rejecting racial statistics in death penalty appeals, limiting death penalty appeals. Dodd supports requiring DNA testing for all federal executions. Dodd voted "no" on criminal penalty for harming unborn fetus during other crime and against increasing penalties for drug offenses.

Stem-cell research[edit]

Senator Dodd voted for expanded embryonic stem-cell research in June 2004 and against banning human cloning in February 1998.

Dodd, with nearly all Senate Democrats, voted for Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act (2005) [7]. Act was passed by House and Senate, but vetoed by President George W. Bush.

Dodd was absent during voting on Stem Cell Research Act in 2007 [8], but supported this legislation as he did in 2006.


Senator Dodd, an outspoken advocate of pro-choice causes was rated 100% by NARAL. He voted against the ban on partial birth abortions, against parental notification of children who receive out-of-state abortions and against the maintaining of the ban of abortions on Military Bases.

Senatorial oversight[edit]

Judicial nominations[edit]

Dodd voted in favor of confirmation both President Bill Clinton Supreme Court nominations: Ruth Bader Ginsburg [9] and Stephen Breyer [10].

Dodd voted in favor of confirmation of Justice David Souter [11] and against Clarence Thomas's [12] - both nominated by President George H. W. Bush.

Dodd voted in favor of confirmation of John Roberts (Chief Justice)[13] but voted against Samuel Alito (Associate Justice)[14].

In August 2009 Dodd voted in favor of confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor to become an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court. Sotomayor was nominated in May 2009 by President Obama.


  1. ^ "Help Iraqi government, but exit Iraq by April 1, 2008". Chris Dodd on War & Peace. On the Issues. 2007-05-20. Retrieved 2007-12-22. 
  2. ^ a b Murray, Shailagh (2007-10-18). "Dodd Makes Play on FISA Legislation". washingtonpost.com. 
  3. ^ "Economic Opportunity". Christopher Dodd Presidential Campaign 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-12-16. Retrieved 2007-12-17. 
  4. ^ "Senator Dodd Delivers Democratic Hispanic Radio Address". Chris Dodd US Senator. 2007-12-04. Retrieved 2007-12-17. 
  5. ^ a b Chris Dodd Campaign (2007-05-11). "Chris Dodd: Dodd Touts Energy Plan At Biodiesel Plant, Kitchen Tables In Southeast Iowa". Retrieved 2007-05-29. 
  6. ^ "Chris Dodd, Liberal Rankings at Project Vote Smart". vote-smart.org. Retrieved February 25, 2007. 
  7. ^ "Chris Dodd, Conservative Rankings at Project Vote Smart". vote-smart.org. Retrieved February 25, 2007. 
  8. ^ U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes for H.J.Res. 114
  9. ^ a b c "Sen. Dodd Calls For End To Iraq War". Associated Press. 2007-05-26. [dead link]
  10. ^ "Sen. Chris Dodd: House and Senate at Its Worst.". Associated Press. Retrieved February 21, 2007. 
  11. ^ Flaherty, Anne (2007-11-16). "Senate blocks bills to pay for Iraq, Afghanistan". Associated Press. 
  12. ^ "Senator Christopher J. Dodd On The Future of Economic Relations in the Western Hemisphere". dodd.senate.gov. 2000-05-20. Retrieved February 25, 2007. 
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ "Chris Dodd, Civil Liberties at Project Vote Smart". vote-smart.org. Retrieved February 25, 2007. 
  16. ^ Thomas, Helen (2006). Watchdogs of Democracy?: The Waning Washington Press Corps and How It Has Failed the Public. Simon and Schuster. p. 108. ISBN 0-7432-6781-8. 
  17. ^ "Dodd: Restoring Habeas Corpus Rights, Banning Torture, Upholding Geneva Conventions Must Happen Now". dodd.senate.gov. Retrieved February 26, 2007. 
  18. ^ a b Beam, Christopher; Chadwick Matlin (2007-10-18). "Obama, Where Art Thou? Bloggers turn to Chris Dodd for leadership on the FISA bill". Slate Magazine. 
  19. ^ a b c d e Hayworth, Bret (2007-12-06). "Dodd explains plan for health-care reform". Sioux City Journal. 
  20. ^ "Chris Dodd, Environmental Issues at Project Vote Smart". vote-smart.org. Retrieved February 25, 2007. 
  21. ^ a b c Ramer, Holly (2007-06-23). "Dodd urges mandatory community service". Associated Pres. 
  22. ^ Moon, Freda (2007-07-05). "I Want You to Pay Attention to Me: Sen. Chris Dodd's Quixotic Quest for the Presidency". The New Haven Advocate. 
  23. ^ a b "Official Senate Biography". dodd.senate.gov. Retrieved February 21, 2007. 
  24. ^ "Family and Children Interest Group Ratings". vote-smart.org. Retrieved February 25, 2007. 
  25. ^ [2]
  26. ^ [3]
  27. ^ [4]
  28. ^ Pitney, Nico (2007-09-12). "Dodd Would Decriminalize Pot". Huffington Post. Retrieved September 15, 2007. 
  29. ^ Stanley, Oswald. The True Reason for Drug Prohibition
  30. ^ GORDON, MARCY (2007-08-14). "Dodd Urges Bush in High Court Case". Associated Press. Retrieved 2007-10-26. [dead link]
  31. ^ Senator Dodd Delivers Democratic Hispanic Radio Address | U.S. Senator Christopher J. Dodd
  32. ^ Jackson, Henry C. (2007-05-03). "Dodd claims McCain has walked away from immigration reform". Associated Pres. 
  33. ^ "On the Cloture Motion (Motion to Invoke Cloture on S.1639". United States Senate. 2007-11-16. 
  34. ^ Woodlief, Wayne (2007-11-01). "Suddenly it’s a race after all". The Boston Herald. 
  35. ^ Issenberg, Sasha (2007-11-01). "Clinton backs N.Y. driver's license plan for illegal immigrants: Tries to steady her stance after debate stumble". The Boston Globe. 
  36. ^ "Hillary Clinton is against driver's licenses for illegal immigrants". Associated Press. 2007-11-14. 
  37. ^ "Religion and Politics 2008: Christopher Dodd". Pew Forum. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 

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