Tom Cotton

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Tom Cotton
Tom Cotton official Senate photo.jpg
United States Senator
from Arkansas
Assumed office
January 3, 2015
Serving with John Boozman
Preceded by Mark Pryor
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 4th district
In office
January 3, 2013 – January 3, 2015
Preceded by Mike Ross
Succeeded by Bruce Westerman
Personal details
Born Thomas Bryant Cotton
(1977-05-13) May 13, 1977 (age 37)
Dardanelle, Arkansas, U.S.
Political party Republican
Alma mater Harvard University
Claremont Graduate University
Religion Methodism
Awards Bronze Star
Ranger Tab
Combat Infantryman Badge
Website Senate website
Campaign website
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 2005–2009
Rank US Army O3 shoulderboard rotated.svg Captain
Unit 101st Airborne Division
Battles/wars Iraq War
Afghanistan War

Thomas Bryant "Tom" Cotton[1] (born May 13, 1977) is an American politician who is the junior United States Senator from Arkansas. He was a member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Arkansas's 4th congressional district from 2013 until 2015. He is a member of the Republican Party. He is a U.S. Army veteran and a lawyer. Cotton was the Republican nominee for the 2014 U.S. Senate race in Arkansas, and won the election, defeating incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor. At age 37, he is the youngest current U.S. Senator.

Early life and education[edit]

Cotton was born in Dardanelle, Arkansas, on May 13, 1977, son of Thomas Leonard Cotton and his wife Avis (née Bryant) Cotton.[2] His father is a Vietnam War veteran who served with the 4th Infantry Division.[3]

After graduating from Dardanelle High School in June 1995,[3] he attended Harvard College, where he served as a columnist for the Harvard Crimson, and a member of the Harvard Republican Club. After graduating from Harvard magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government,[4] he went on to Harvard Law School, where he was taught by Elizabeth Warren.[5] He received his J.D. degree in June 2002.[3][6]

Military service[edit]

On January 11, 2005, Cotton joined the United States Army and entered Officer Candidate School in March 2005. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army on June 30, 2005. Cotton later attended both the U.S. Army Airborne School and Ranger School.[3]

As an infantry officer and platoon leader with the 101st Airborne Division, he was deployed to Baghdad as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom on May 19, 2006. In Iraq, Cotton was responsible for a 41 man air assault infantry platoon in the 506th Infantry Regiment,[7] and planned and led daily combat patrols. He completed his first combat tour in Iraq on November 20, 2006, and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Iraq Campaign Medal, and various campaign/service medals.[3]

In June 2006, Cotton gained public attention after he wrote an open letter to The New York Times criticizing the paper's publication of an article detailing a Bush administration secret program monitoring terrorists' finances in which he called for three journalists, including the Times' editor, Bill Keller, to be imprisoned for espionage.[8] The article was widely circulated online and reprinted in full in several newspapers.[9]

Following his deployment in Iraq, Cotton was assigned as a platoon leader at The Old Guard at Arlington National Cemetery,[10] where he was responsible for conducting military honor funerals for veterans. In 2008, he volunteered to return to combat duty, was promoted to captain on August 1, 2008, and deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on October 15, 2008.

In Afghanistan, Cotton was assigned to Laghman Province, just north of Tora Bora in eastern Afghanistan. He was assigned duty as the operations officer of a Provincial Reconstruction Team, where he planned and resourced daily counter-insurgency and reconstruction operations for an 83-member joint and interagency team.[3] He returned from Afghanistan on July 20, 2009. For his second tour in Afghanistan he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and various campaign/service medals. He was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army on September 26, 2009 at Fort Myer, Virginia.[3]

Law career[edit]

He served as a clerk at the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit for Judge Jerry Edwin Smith and then engaged in private practice[11] as an attorney with the law firms Gibson Dunn & Crutcher and Cooper & Kirk,[12] where he concentrated in labor, employment, and constitutional law, in cases at all levels of state and federal courts.[3] After leaving active duty, Cotton joined McKinsey & Company, a management consulting firm. He subsequently returned to Dardanelle, where he works on his family's cattle farm.[6]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

2012 election[edit]

Cotton ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican in Arkansas' 4th congressional district in the 2012 election, vacant as a result of Democratic U.S. Congressman Mike Ross' retirement.[13]

During the primary, in September 2011, the Democratic Party of Arkansas attacked Cotton for an article written 13 years earlier in his school newspaper, in which he questioned the value of the Internet as a teaching tool in the classroom.[14] Cotton has since stated that he believes the Internet has matured significantly over the past decade and has become a "vital tool for education and daily life" unlike the Internet of 1998.[15]

Beth Anne Rankin, the 2010 Republican nominee, and John David Cowart, who carried the backing of the Louisiana businessman and philanthropist Edgar Cason, were the only other Republican candidates in the race after candidate Marcus Richmond dropped out in February 2012.[16] In the primary on May 22, Cotton won the nomination, with 57% of the vote to Rankin's 38%.[17]

Cotton was endorsed by Senator John McCain.[18] Cotton was supported by and has close ties to both the Tea Party movement and the Republican establishment.[19][20][21][22]

On election day, November 6, Cotton defeated State Senator Gene Jeffress, 59%-37%. Cotton is the second Republican to represent the 4th district since Reconstruction.[citation needed]


On January 3, 2013, Cotton was sworn into the U.S. House by House Speaker John Boehner.[23] As a freshman, he has been considered as a rising star in the Republican Party. Politico named him "most likely to succeed."[24][25]


In January 2014, Cotton voted against the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, also known as the Farm Bill, a $1 trillion bill expanding crop insurance by $7 billion over the next decade and creating new subsidies for rice and peanut growers that would kick in when prices drop.[26][27]


In August 2013, Cotton voted against federal student loan legislation in Congress. Cotton said that his vote was based on his opposition to the nationalization of the student-loan business which he wrote had been a component of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Cotton stated, "I'm committed to bringing affordable higher education to every Arkansan and ending the federal-government monopoly on the student-lending business."[28]


Cotton has stated his support for the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[29]


In February 2013, Cotton voted for the Federal Pay Adjustment Act, which prevents a 0.5% pay increase for all federal workers from taking effect, saving the federal government $11 billion over 10 years.[30]

In September 2014, Cotton said he would vote for the Arkansas Minimum Wage Initiative, a November 2014 statewide ballot initiative that calls for raising Arkansas' minimum wage from $6.25 an hour to $8.50 an hour by 2017.[31]

Social issues[edit]

In June 2013, Cotton voted in favor of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a bill to ban abortions that would take place 20 or more weeks after fertilization.[32]

Corruption of Blood[edit]

In 2013 Cotton introduced legislative language to overturn the United States Constitution prohibition of attainder.[33]

Committee assignments[edit]

U.S. Senate[edit]

2014 election[edit]

On August 6, 2013 Cotton officially announced he would challenge incumbent U.S. Senator Mark Pryor.[34] Stuart Rothenberg of Roll Call called Pryor the most vulnerable Senator seeking re-election.[35] Cotton was endorsed by former Presidential nominee Mitt Romney,[36] the fiscally conservative Club for Growth PAC, Senator Marco Rubio, and the National Federation of Independent Business.[37][38][39][40][41] Romney campaigned for Cotton in the state.[42]

As many pundits predicted, Cotton defeated Pryor in the general election, 56.5% to 39.5%.


Cotton was sworn into office on January 6, 2015 by Vice President Joe Biden.

Committee assignments[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Cotton married attorney Anna Peckham in 2014. The Cottons are expecting their first child.[43]


  1. ^ Profile of Tom Cotton,; accessed November 5, 2014.
  2. ^ New Arkansas Rep. Cotton Draws Spotlight; 113th Congress Sworn In, The Times Record,; accessed November 5, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Electing Fiscal Conservatives,; accessed November 5, 2014.
  4. ^ "A RISING POLITICAL STAR IN ARKANSAS". October 22, 2012. Retrieved January 18, 2013. 
  5. ^ Nordlinger, Jay (22 October 2012). "Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Part 1". National Review. Retrieved 4 December 2014. 
  6. ^ a b "Tom Cotton About". 2011-10-14. Retrieved 2011-12-05. 
  7. ^ 69th "Anniversary of D-Day",; accessed November 5, 2014.
  8. ^ Pollack, Joel (14 December 2011). "". Big Government. Retrieved 9 January 2012. [dead link]
  9. ^ Baumann, Nick. "The GOP Candidate Who Wants Journos Jailed". Mother Jones. Retrieved January 9, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Cotton makes early noise in 4th District race". 2011-08-22. Retrieved 2011-12-01. 
  11. ^ "Tom Cotton About". 2011-10-14. Retrieved 2011-12-02. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Rep. Mike Ross to retire". 2011-07-25. Retrieved 2011-09-15. 
  14. ^ "Tom Cotton learns value of Internet". 2011-09-01. Retrieved 2011-09-16. 
  15. ^ "Ark. House hopeful's college writings targeted". 2011-09-01. Retrieved 2011-12-01. [dead link]
  16. ^ "GOP's Richmond drops out of 4th district race". 2012-02-23. Retrieved 2012-05-12. 
  17. ^ "Cotton wins south Arkansas Republican congressional primary; Democrats head to runoff". 2012-05-23. Retrieved 2012-05-24. 
  18. ^ Miller, Joshua (3 May 2012). "Arkansas: Tom Cotton Gets John McCain Endorsement". Roll Call. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  19. ^ Tea Party Express endorses Tom Cotton
  20. ^ "He has close ties to both the Tea Party and the establishment wing of the party,; accessed November 5, 2014.
  21. ^ "Democrats may lose Hope in Arkansas despite Clinton legacy". Los Angeles Times. July 15, 2014. Retrieved September 5, 2014. 
  22. ^ "10 Things Everyone Should Know About Tom Cotton, The Arkansas Politician Who Should Scare The Hell Out Of Democrats". Business Insider. August 12, 2013. Retrieved September 5, 2014. 
  23. ^ "Representative Cotton Sworn Into Office". January 3, 2013. Retrieved January 18, 2013. 
  24. ^ "The freshman most likely to _______" by Kate Nocera,; accessed November 5, 2014.
  25. ^ "Right Turn". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 5, 2014. 
  26. ^ "House Floor Activities Legislative Day of January 29, 2014". House of Representatives. Retrieved August 25, 2014. 
  27. ^ Nixon, Ron (February 4, 2014). "Senate Passes Long-Stalled Farm Bill, With Clear Winners and Losers". New York Times. Retrieved August 25, 2014. 
  28. ^ McAuliff, Michael (August 1, 2013). "Tom Cotton, Arkansas Rep., Took Student Loans, Voted Against Them". Retrieved August 2, 2013. 
  29. ^ Ramsey, David (April 14, 2014). "How Tom Cotton talks when he talks about Obamacare". Arkansas Times. Retrieved August 25, 2014. 
  30. ^ "HR 273 - Eliminates the 2013 Statutory Pay Adjustment for Federal Employees - Voting Record". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved August 25, 2014. 
  31. ^ Bobic, Igor (September 5, 2014). "Tom Cotton Says He Will Vote For Minimum Wage Hike 'As A Citizen'". Huffington Post. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  32. ^ "House Vote 251 - Approves New Abortion Restrictions". New York Times. Retrieved August 25, 2014. 
  33. ^ Carter, Zach (22 May 2014). "Tom Cotton 'Corruption Of Blood' Bill Would Convict Family Members Of Iran Sanctions Violators". (, Inc.). Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  34. ^ Condon, Stephanie (2013-08-06). "Republican Rep. Tom Cotton announces bid to challenge Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark.". CBS News. Retrieved 2013-09-04. 
  35. ^ Rothenberg, Stuart (9 June 2014). "Mark Pryor: Still This Cycle’s Most Vulnerable Senator". Roll Call. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  36. ^ Romney endorses Tom Cotton,; accessed November 5, 2014.
  37. ^ Gentilviso, Chris (August 7, 2013). "Tom Cotton 2014 Senate Run Gets Early Club For Growth Endorsement". Huffington Post. Retrieved January 16, 2014. 
  38. ^ Judis, John (2013-10-16). "The Shrinking Club for Growth". The New Republic. Retrieved January 16, 2014. 
  39. ^ Joseph, Cameron (August 7, 2013). "Club for Growth endorses Tom Cotton, launches ads in Arkansas Senate race". The Hill. Retrieved January 16, 2014. 
  40. ^ Strauss, Daniel. "Rubio Endorses Rep. Tom Cotton for Senate". Talking Points Memo. Retrieved May 26, 2014. 
  41. ^ Urban, Peter (July 1, 2014). "Small-business group endorses Cotton". Arkansas News. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  42. ^ "Romney to campaign for Cotton in Arkansas". KSPR-ABC. August 21, 2014. Retrieved August 25, 2014. 
  43. ^ Henry, Larry (2014-03-18). "Tom Cotton Ties The Knot". Retrieved May 26, 2014. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Mike Ross
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 4th congressional district

Succeeded by
Bruce Westerman
Party political offices
Title last held by
Tim Hutchinson
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Arkansas
(Class 2)

Most recent
United States Senate
Preceded by
Mark Pryor
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Arkansas
Served alongside: John Boozman
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Chris Murphy
Baby of the Senate
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
James Lankford
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Steve Daines