|United States Senator
January 3, 2015
Serving with John Boozman
|Preceded by||Mark Pryor|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 4th district
January 3, 2013 – January 3, 2015
|Preceded by||Mike Ross|
|Succeeded by||Bruce Westerman|
|Born||Thomas Bryant Cotton
May 13, 1977
Dardanelle, Arkansas, U.S.
|Alma mater||Harvard University (A.B., J.D)|
Combat Infantryman Badge
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||2005–2009 (Active Duty); 2010–2013 (Army Reserve)|
|Unit||101st Airborne Division
The Old Guard
Thomas Bryant "Tom" Cotton (born May 13, 1977) is an American politician who is the junior United States Senator from Arkansas. A member of the Republican Party, Cotton has been serving in the Senate since January 3, 2015.
In August 2013, Cotton announced his intentions to run for the United States Senate in a challenge against two-term Democratic Senator Mark Pryor. Cotton won in an unopposed Republican primary and prevailed in the general election, obtaining 56% of the vote to Pryor's 39%. At the age of 38, he is the youngest current U.S. Senator.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Career before Congress
- 3 U.S. House of Representatives
- 4 U.S. Senate
- 5 Personal life
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Early life and education
Cotton was born in Dardanelle, Arkansas, on May 13, 1977, son of Thomas Leonard Cotton and his wife Avis (née Bryant) Cotton, where he grew up on the family farm. Cotton graduated from Dardanelle High School in June 1995. He attended Harvard College, where he wrote for the Harvard Crimson, graduating in 1998.
In 1998, Cotton was accepted into a master's degree at Claremont Graduate University. He left in 1999, saying that he found academic life "too sedentary", enrolling in Harvard Law School, where he received his J.D. degree in June 2002.
Career before Congress
Immediately after finishing law school in 2002, Cotton served for a year as a clerk for Judge Jerry Edwin Smith at the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He then entered private practice, working at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher for a few months, and at Cooper & Kirk from 2003 to 2004.
Active duty military service
On January 11, 2005, Cotton joined the active duty forces of the United States Army. According to his recruiter, Lt. Col. Roger Jones, commander of Army Recruiting Battalion Houston, Cotton decided not to pursue a commission as an officer at the rank of Captain in the Judge Advocate General's Corps, United States Army, the typical rank and specialty for a person with his education and training. Instead, Cotton chose to enlist under the US Army's Officer/Warrant Officer Enlistment Program, Enlistment Option 9D at the rank of Specialist or Corporal, with the guaranteed opportunity to Officer Candidate School and pursue a commission as a military officer. Cotton's relationship with his enlisted basic training drill sergeant, Master Sergeant Gordon Norton, remained so good that years later Cotton would hire Norton to help with his political campaign.
In March 2005, Cotton entered Officer Candidate School, and in June 2005 was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He was initially stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, where he entered a 14-week Officer’s Basic Course. After completing that in November 2005, Cotton attended both the U.S. Army Airborne School and Ranger School, but was not assigned to a Ranger Battalion.
In May 2006, Cotton deployed to Baghdad as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom as a platoon leader with the 101st Airborne Division. In Iraq, he led a 41-man air assault infantry platoon in the 506th Infantry Regiment, and planned and performed daily combat patrols.
In October 2008, Cotton deployed to eastern Afghanistan. He was stationed within the Regional Command East at its Gamberi Forward operating base (FOB) located in one of the command's 14 province locations, Laghman Province. The overall mission at Cotton's duty station – the Gamberi FOB from April 2008 to June 2009, during Operation Enduring Freedom IX – included military logistics, civil reconstruction engineering, government organization, and training from a Joint Task Force. The Joint Task Force at Gamberi FOB included Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA), the 101st Airborne Division, NATO, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Interagency Partners, and CJTF-101/Regional Command East Forces. These joint forces sought to secure the citizenry governance, and to rebuild a sustainable economy in order to extend Afghanistan (GIRoA) authority as the legitimate government of the Afghan people. Cotton said his assigned duty was as a military logistics officer of a Provincial Reconstruction Team, where he also helped plan logistical operations for counter-insurgency. Cotton's 11-month deployment to Gamberi FOB in Laghan province ended when he returned from Afghanistan on July 20, 2009.
In September 2009, after one year of military training, two years performing memorial ceremonies, and 16 months deployed overseas (one tour each in Iraq and Afghanistan), Cotton was discharged from the Army.
New York Times "espionage letter"
In June 2006, while stationed in Iraq, Cotton gained international public attention after he emailed a letter to The New York Times, criticizing the paper's publication of an article detailing a Bush administration secret program monitoring terrorists' finances. The newspaper ignored his letter, but it was published in Power Line, a prominent conservative blog which had been copied on the email.
In the letter, Cotton called for the journalists responsible for the newspaper article to be imprisoned for espionage. He asserted that the newspaper had "gravely endangered the lives of my soldiers and all other soldiers and innocent Iraqis here." The article was widely circulated online and reprinted in full in several newspapers. The letter reached General Peter Schoomaker, Chief of Staff of the United States Army, who forwarded it via e-mail to all his generals, stating: "Attached for your information are words of wisdom from one of our great lieutenants in Iraq ..." Cotton said in an interview that after meeting with his immediate commander, he was "nervous and worried all night long" about losing his position and even worse, possibly being court-martialed. When he finally met the battalion commander, he was simply told "Well, here’s a piece of advice: You’re new here. No one’s trying to infringe on your right to send a letter or whatnot. But next time, give your chain of command a heads-up."
After his active duty service, Cotton did sporadic consulting work at the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company. He then returned to the agricultural management of his family ranch.
In July 2010, Cotton re-enlisted in the United States Army Reserve. Cotton's military record shows his final discharge from both Active duty and reserve duty was in May 2013. Cotton's final military record brief states during his service in active and reserve U.S. Armed Forces he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal (non V), and earned the following: Ranger Training Tab (without active service in Ranger unit), Combat Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and Iraq Campaign Medal.
In 2009, Larry Arnn, the president of the Claremont Institute while Cotton had been in the Publius Fellowship program, introduced Cotton to Chris Chocola, a former Congressman and the president of Club for Growth, an influential Republican PAC. The blog Power Line also continued to promote Cotton. An attempt was made to draft Cotton for Arkansas’s 2010 Senate race, to run against incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln.
In 2011, when the Democratic congressman who had represented Cotton's home district retired after twelve years in office, Cotton ran for Congress.
U.S. House of Representatives
Cotton was a candidate 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. Of the $2.2 million Cotton raised for that campaign, Club for Growth donors were responsible for $315,000 and were Cotton's largest supporters.
In September 2011, the Democratic Party of Arkansas attacked Cotton for an article written thirteen years earlier, in his school newspaper, in which he questioned the value of the Internet as a teaching tool in the classroom. Cotton has since said 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.
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. In the primary on May 22, Cotton won the Republican nomination, with 57% of the vote; Rankin received 38%.
On January 3, 2013, Cotton was sworn into the U.S. House by House Speaker John Boehner. As a freshman, he has been considered a rising star in the Republican Party. Politico named him "most likely to succeed."
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.
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 (ACA). Cotton stated, "I'm committed to bringing affordable higher education to every Arkansan and ending the federal-government monopoly on the student-lending business."
Cotton has stated his support for the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and has signed an amicus brief in support of Senator Ron Johnson's legal challenge against the U.S. Office of Personnel Management's ACA ruling. 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.
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.
In 2013 Cotton introduced legislative language to prohibit trade with relatives of individuals subject to U.S. sanctions against Iran. According to Cotton, this would include "a spouse and any relative to the third degree," such as, "parents, children, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, grandparents, great grandparents, grandkids, great grandkids." When Cotton's amendment came under harsh criticism regarding the constitutionality of the amendment, he withdrew it.
- Committee on Financial Services
- Committee on Foreign Affairs
On August 6, 2013 Cotton officially announced he would challenge incumbent U.S. Senator Mark Pryor. Stuart Rothenberg of Roll Call called Pryor the most vulnerable Senator seeking re-election. Cotton was endorsed by former Presidential nominee Mitt Romney, the fiscally conservative Club for Growth PAC, Senator Marco Rubio, and the National Federation of Independent Business. Romney campaigned for Cotton in the state.
Cotton defeated Pryor in the general election, 56.5% to 39.5%.
Cotton was sworn into office on January 6, 2015.
Letter to Iran's leaders
On or about March 9, 2015, Cotton wrote and sent a letter to the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran, signed by 47 of the Senate's 54 Republicans, attempting to cast doubt on the Obama administration's authority to engage in nuclear-proliferation negotiations with Iran. The open letter was released in English as well as a poorly-translated Persian version (which "read like a middle schooler wrote it" according to Foreign Policy). Within hours, commentators suggested that the letter prepared by Cotton constituted a violation of the Logan Act. Questions also were raised as to whether it reflected a flawed interpretation of the Treaty Clause of the United States Constitution.
President Barack Obama mocked the letter, referring to it as an "unusual coalition" with Iran's hard-liners as well as an interference with the then-ongoing negotiations of a comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear program. In addition, during a Vice News interview, President Barack Obama said, "I'm embarrassed for them. For them to address a letter to the Ayatollah -- the Supreme Leader of Iran, who they claim is our mortal enemy -- and their basic argument to them is: don't deal with our President, 'cause you can't trust him to follow through on an agreement... That's close to unprecedented."
Iran's Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, responded to the letter by saying "[the Senators'] letter in fact undermines the credibility of thousands of such mere executive agreements that have been or will be entered into by the US with various other governments". Zarif pointed out that the nuclear deal is not supposed to be an Iran–US deal, but an international one, saying that "change of administration does not in any way relieve the next administration from international obligations undertaken by its predecessor in a possible agreement about Iran's peaceful nuclear program". He continued, "I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement with the stroke of a pen, as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law".
Cotton on March 15, 2015 defended the letter he and fellow Senate Republicans sent to Iranian leaders about their nuclear negotiations with the United States, amid criticism that it undermined the president's efforts. "It's so important we communicated this message straight to Iran," he told CBS News' Face the Nation "No regrets at all," and "they already control Tehran, increasingly they control Damascus and Beirut and Baghdad and now Sana’a as well." He continued to defend his action in an interview with MSNBC by saying, "There are nothing but hardliners in Iran. They’ve been killing Americans for 35 years. They kill hundreds of troops in Iraq. Now they control five capitals in the Middle East. There’re nothing but hardliners in Tehran and if they do all those things without a nuclear weapon, imagine what they’ll do with a nuclear weapon."
Military action against Iran
Cotton accused President Obama of holding up a "false choice" between his framework deal on Iran's nuclear program and war. He also seemed to diminish what military action against Iran would entail. Sen Cotton also said: "the president is trying to make you think it would be 150,000 heavy mechanized troops on the ground in the Middle East again as we saw in Iraq. That's simply not the case." "Several days' air and naval bombing against Iraq's weapons of mass destruction facilities for exactly the same kind of behavior. For interfering with weapons inspectors and for disobeying Security Council resolutions."
Iran side deals
On July 21, 2015, Cotton and Mike Pompeo announced the existence of side agreements between Iran and the IAEA on procedures for inspection and verification of Iran's nuclear activities under the Iran nuclear deal. These side deals have since become a flashpoint in the debate over the Iran deal, in part because their contents have not been publicly disclosed. Cotton described the side deals as "secret", though the Obama Administration disputed this, noting that the IAEA always has a duty of confidentiality.
- Committee on Armed Services
- Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
- Special Committee on Aging
- Select Committee on Intelligence
- Joint Economic Committee
- "The Courier – Your Messenger for the River Valley – Patterson". couriernews.com. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
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- "Publius Alumni". The Atlantic. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
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- "Understanding War Regional Command List". Retrieved 22 March 2015.
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- "Provincial Reconstruction Team uses infantry soldiers to bolster joint patrols". United States Central Command. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
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- Baumann, Nick. "The GOP Candidate Who Wants Journos Jailed". Mother Jones. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
- "Tom Cotton Bio – four Part Interview". National Review. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
- "McKinsey & Co". Retrieved 22 March 2015.
- "Tom Cotton Army Service Record". US Armed Forces via F.O.I.A. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
- "Rep. Mike Ross to retire". www.thehill.com. July 25, 2011. Retrieved September 15, 2011.
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- "Ark. House hopeful's college writings targeted". www.chron.com. September 1, 2011. Retrieved December 1, 2011.[dead link]
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- "Democrats may lose Hope in Arkansas despite Clinton legacy". Los Angeles Times. July 15, 2014. Retrieved September 5, 2014.
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- Jordan Fabian and Kristina Wong. "White House launches Iran side deals counterattack".
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- Henry, Larry (March 18, 2014). "Tom Cotton Ties The Knot". 5newsonline.com. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
- https://mobile.twitter.com/SenTomCotton/status/593178724276768768. Missing or empty
|Wikisource has original works written by or about:
- U.S. Senator Tom Cotton official U.S. Senate site
- Tom Cotton at DMOZ
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Project Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at The Library of Congress
- Tom Cotton on Twitter
|United States House of Representatives|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 4th congressional district
|Party political offices|
Title last held byTim Hutchinson
|Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Arkansas
|United States Senate|
|U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Arkansas
Served alongside: John Boozman
|Baby of the Senate
|United States order of precedence (ceremonial)|
|United States Senators by seniority