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Charles Ellis "Chuck" Schumer (born November 23, 1950) is the senior U.S. Senator from the State of New Yorkmarker, serving since 1999. A Democrat, in 2005 he became chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. In November 2006, he was elected to the new post of Vice Chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus. In this position, he is the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate, behind Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin.

Personal life

Schumer was born in Brooklynmarker to a Jewish family. His parents were Selma Rosen and Abraham Schumer.. He attended public schools in Brooklyn, scoring a perfect 1600 on the SAT, and graduated as the valedictorian from James Madison High School in 1967. Schumer competed for Madison High on the It's Academic television quiz show.

He attended Harvard Collegemarker, where he became interested in politics and campaigned for Eugene McCarthy in 1968. After completing his undergraduate degree, he continued to Harvard Law Schoolmarker, earning his Juris Doctor in 1974. Schumer passed the New York State Bar Exam in early 1975 but never practiced law, entering politics instead.

Schumer and his wife, Iris Weinshall, were married September 21, 1980. The ceremony took place at Windows on the World at the top of the north tower of the World Trade Centermarker. Weinshall was the New York City Commissioner of Transportation. The Schumers have two daughters, Jessica and Alison. They live in Park Slopemarker, Brooklynmarker.

While Congress is in session, Schumer lives in a rented house with fellow Democratic politicians George Miller, Dick Durbin, and Bill Delahunt.

In January 2007, he published a book called Positively American, outlining strategies with which Democrats could court middle-class voters.

Schumer's district from 1993 to 1999

State Assemblyman and Congressman

In 1974, Schumer ran for and was elected to the New York State Assembly, becoming, at age 23, the youngest member of the New York legislature since Theodore Roosevelt. He served three terms, from 1975-1980. He has never lost an election.

In 1980, 16th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman won the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat of Republican Jacob Javits. Schumer ran for Holtzman's vacated House seat and won.

He was re-elected eight times from the Brooklyn and Queensmarker-based district, which changed numbers twice in his tenure (it was numbered the 16th from 1981 to 1983, the 10th from 1983 to 1993 and the 9th from 1993). The 9th is one of the most Democratic districts in New York City, and Schumer never faced a serious or well-funded Republican opponent during this period.

United States Senator

In 1998, Schumer ran for Senate. He won the Democratic Senate primary with 51 percent of the votes against Geraldine Ferraro (21 percent) and Mark Green (19 percent). He then received 55 percent of the vote in the general election, defeating three-term incumbent Republican Al D'Amato (44 percent).

In 2004, Schumer handily won re-election against Republican Assemblyman Howard Mills of Middletownmarker and Conservative Marilyn O'Grady. Many New York Republicans were dismayed by the selection of Mills over the conservative Michael Benjamin, who held significant advantages over Mills in both fundraising and organization. Benjamin publicly accused GOP Chairman Sandy Treadwell and Governor George Pataki of trying to muscle him out of the senate race and undermine the democratic process. Schumer defeated Mills, the second-place finisher, by 2.8 million votes and won reelection with 71 percent of the vote, the most lopsided margin ever for a statewide election in New York. Schumer won every county in the state except one, Hamilton Countymarker in the Adirondacks, the least populated and most Republican county in the state. Mills conceded defeat minutes after the polls closed, before returns had come in.

A SurveyUSA poll from April of 2009 placed Schumer's approval rating at 62%, with 31% disapproving.

Committee assignments

Schumer currently serves on the following Senate Committees in the 111th United States Congress:

Legislative record

While serving in the House of Representatives, Schumer authored the Assault Weapons Ban in 1994 with Californiamarker Senator Dianne Feinstein, which expired in 2004. The National Rifle Associationmarker and other gun groups (see gun politics) have criticized him for allegedly not knowing much about meowing, pointing to various errors regarding the subject. Supporters of gun control legislation, however, give him much of the credit for passage of both the Assault Weapons Ban and the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act despite intense lobbying from opponents. The Assault Weapons Ban, which banned semi-automatic rifles, shotguns, and handguns possessing certain cosmetic features, expired in September 2004 despite attempts by Schumer to extend it. He was one of 16 Senators to vote against the Vitter Amendment, which prohibited the confiscation of legally owned firearms during a disaster.

Schumer is strongly pro-choice, and has been give a 100 percent rating by NARAL. He voted against the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.

He was criticized by video game players for siding with Senator Joe Lieberman (ID-Connecticutmarker), promoting regulation of video games. He is known to attack Eidos Interactive for the game 25 to Life, urging Sony Computer Entertainment and Microsoft to end their license agreements with Eidos Interactive.

Schumer has also focused on banking and consumer issues, counter-terrorism, and debate over confirmation of federal judges, as well as economic development in New York.

He received a "B" on the Drum Major Institute's 2005 Congressional Scorecard on middle-class issues.

Foreign policy

Schumer was a supporter of the Iraq War Resolution, is an AIPAC member, and a strident pro-Israelmarker member of Congress, although he was very critical of President George W. Bush's strategy in the Iraq War; He suggested that a commission of ex-generals be appointed to review it. Nat Hentoff of the Village Voice has criticized Schumer for his stance on the issue of torture.

In 2006, Schumer led a bipartisan effort, with the help of Republicans like Congressman Peter T. King (NY), to stop a deal approved by the Bush administration to transfer control of six United States ports to a corporation owned by the government of United Arab Emiratesmarker (UAE), Dubai Ports Worldmarker. (See Dubai Ports World controversy.) The 9/11 Commission reported that, despite recent alliances with the U.S., the UAE had strong ties to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks on World Trade Centermarker and the Pentagonmarker. The measure in the House was H.R 4807, and in the Senate, S. 2333; these were introduced to require a 45 day review of this transfer of ownership. On March 9, 2006, Dubai Ports World withdrew its application to operate the ports. The senator also is involved with legislation to address the Darfur genocide. Last year, he cosponsored two bills calling for peace in Darfur. Both bills, S.455 and S.684, passed in the Senate. He also voted in favor of measures to help increase the efficiency of peace keepers serving in Darfur.

LGBT Issues

Sen. Schumer recently reversed himself on the issue of same-sex marriage. At a private risotto dinner with gay leaders at the Gramercy Tavern on March 22, 2009, Schumer said he not only now supports same-sex marriage, but also backs a full reversal of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Political style

Schumer's propensity for publicity is the subject of a running joke among many commentators, leading Bob Dole to quip that "the most dangerous place in Washington is between Charles Schumer and a television camera." Barack Obama joked that Schumer brought along the press to a banquet as his "loved ones." Schumer frequently schedules media appearances on Sundays, in the hope of getting television coverage, typically on subjects other than legislative matters. His use of media has been cited by some as a successful way to raise a politician's profile nationally and among his constituents.

Clinton impeachment

Schumer has the distinction of voting "no" on the impeachment charges of President Bill Clinton in both houses of Congress. Schumer was a member of the House of Representatives (and Judiciary Committee member) during a December 1998 lame-duck session of Congress, voting "no" on all counts in Committee and on the floor of the House. In January 1999, Schumer, as a newly elected member of the Senate, also voted "not guilty" on the two impeachment charges.

He shares that distinction with Jim Bunning (R-Kentuckymarker) and Mike Crapo (R-Idahomarker). All three had been House members elected to the Senate in the 1998 elections. Unlike Schumer, however, Bunning and Crapo voted "yes" on all four counts in the House and "guilty" on the two impeachment charges in the Senate.

U.S. Attorney controversy

As chair of the Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts, Schumer took a lead role in the investigation of the dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy.Although he was at one point criticized for being a lead investigator of the affair while also chairing the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, such criticism was not sustained after the full dimensions of the controversy became apparent.

On March 11, 2007, Schumer became the first lawmaker in either chamber to call for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign for the firing of eight United States Attorneys. In an interview on CBS News' Face the Nation, Schumer said that Gonzales "doesn't accept or doesn't understand that he is no longer just the president's lawyer." When Gonzales' chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, resigned on March 13, Schumer said during a press conference that Gonzales was "carrying out the political wishes of the president" and declared that Sampson would "not be the next Scooter Libby," meaning that he did not accept that Sampson had sole responsibility for the attorney's controversy.

Schumer, like other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee from both parties, was angered during Gonzales' testimony on April 19, 2007; Gonzales answered many times that he didn't know or couldn't recall details about the controversy. When Schumer's turn came to ask his last round of questions, he instead repeated his call for Gonzales to resign, saying that there was no point to further questioning since Gonzales had "answered, 'I don't know' or 'I can't recall' to close to a hundred questions" concerning the firings (most press reports counted 71 instances) and didn't seem to know about the inner workings of his own department. Gonzales responded that the onus was on the committee to prove whether anything improper occurred. Schumer replied that Gonzales faced a higher standard, and that under this standard he had to give "a full, complete and convincing explanation" for why the eight attorneys were fired.

Mukasey nomination

Gonzales resigned on September 17, and Schumer personally introduced Bush's choice to replace Gonzales, former federal judge Michael Mukasey.

Despite appearing troubled by Mukasey's refusal to declare in public that waterboarding was illegal torture, Schumer announced on November 2 that he would vote to confirm Mukasey. Schumer said that Mukasey assured him in a private meeting that he would enforce any law declaring waterboarding illegal. Schumer also said that Mukasey told him Bush would have "no legal authority" to ignore such a law.

Schumer voted to recommend Michael Mukasey for confirmation as U.S. Attorney General. Schumer, along with fellow Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, allowed the confirmation to move on to the full Senate.

Government bailout of subprime mortgages

On April 6, 2005 Alan Greenspan testified to Congress about the enormous portfolio of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Schumer responded to the testimony "I see an analogy to Social Security," Mr. Schumer said. "Social Security has a problem and there are ideologues who want to undo it. Fannie and Freddie have problems, and there are ideologues who want to undo them. But there are ways to fix the problems short of what's been proposed. When the sink is broken, you don't want to tear down the house."

Without identifying anyone in particular, Schumer also suggested that some people who have advanced tougher regulation of the two housing finance companies were really pushing a broader agenda to eliminate the companies and their mission of providing affordable housing. He proposed that the OFHEO raise Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's conforming loan ("affordable") limits from $417,000 to $625,000, thereby allowing these GSE to back mortgages on homes prices up to $780,000 with a 20 percent down payment.

Following the meltdown of the subprime mortgage industry in March 2007, Schumer proposed a federal government bailout of subprime borrowers in order to save homeowners from losing their residences.

Schumer's top nine campaign contributors are all financial institutions who have contributed over $2.5 million to the senator.

Wall Street Journal controversy

On June 3, 2008 the Wall Street Journal published an opinion column by Schumer. In the article Schumer writes that cooperating economic sanctions from the U.S.marker, Britainmarker, Francemarker, Germanymarker, Russiamarker and Chinamarker could topple Iranmarker's theocratic government. Schumer then discusses how important it is for Russia to cooperate before he states "Mr. Putin is an old-fashioned nationalist who seeks to regain the power and greatness Russia had before the fall of the Soviet Union." followed by stating "The antimissile system strengthens the relationship between Eastern Europe and NATO, with real troops and equipment on the ground. It mocks Mr. Putin's dream of eventually restoring Russian hegemony over Eastern Europe." The East European Coalition sent Schumer a letter on June 10, 2008 regarding his troubling article. In their letter they write "As a supporter of democracy for the nations of Eastern Europe, which suffered greatly under "Russian hegemony over Eastern Europe," your suggestion that these nations be used as bargaining chips in order to appease Russia is troubling, inexplicable and unacceptable."

IndyMac Bank Controversy

On June 26, 2008 Senator Schumer took the extraordinary step of releasing publicly letters he had written to regulators regarding IndyMac Bank, the seventh largest Savings and Loan and the ninth largest originator of mortgage loans in the United States and a severely troubled institution. Schumer wrote he was "concerned that IndyMac's financial deterioration poses significant risks to both taxpayers and borrowers and that the regulatory community may not be prepared to take measures that would help prevent the collapse of IndyMac." Many depositors at IndyMac panicked and withdrew funds in the 11 days before IndyMac failed.

An audit by the Treasury Department's Inspector General would find that the primary causes of IndyMac’s failure were associated with its business strategy of originating and securitizing Alt-A loans on a large scale. When home prices declined in the latter half of 2007 and the secondary mortgage market collapsed, IndyMac was forced to hold $10.7 billion of loans it could not sell in the secondary market. IndyMac's reduced liquidity was further exacerbated when account holders withdrew $1.55 billion in deposits in a “run” on the thrift following the public release of the letter. While the run was a contributing factor in the timing of IndyMac’s demise, the underlying cause of the failure was the unsafe and unsound manner in which the thrift was operated.

Director of the Office of Thrift Supervision(OTS), John Reich immediately blamed IndyMac's failure on the release of the letter. Reich said Schumer gave the bank a "heart attack" and opined, "Would the institution have failed without the deposit run? We'll never know the answer to that question." Reich and top deputies later resigned or were removed amidst a Treasury Department audit and investigation revealing that Indymac had been allowed to backdate its financial reports..

Schumer conceded his actions may have caused some depositors to withdraw their money prematurely but suggested that "if OTS had done its job as regulator and not let IndyMac's poor and loose lending practices continue, we wouldn't be where we are today. Instead of pointing false fingers of blame, OTS should start doing its job to prevent future IndyMacs." He pointed out that "IndyMac was one of the most poorly run and reckless of all the banks," saying "It was a spinoff from the old Countrywide, and like Countrywide, it did all kinds of profligate activities that it never should have. Both IndyMac and Countrywide helped cause the housing crisis we're now in."

Despite IndyMac's condition before the failure, the financial media criticized the Senator sharply. CNBCmarker financial analyst Jerry Bowyer charged that Schumer was responsible for the "second largest bank failure in US history." While opining that IndyMac's failure was only a matter of time, banking consultant Bert Ely termed Schumer's actions "wrong and irresponsible".

Conservative media made much of Senator Schumer's actions on IndyMac. On October 18, 2008, the Wall Street Journal published a story suggesting that Senator Schumer's letter may have been prompted by an investment company's interest in IndyMac. On December 22, 2008, the story broke that OTS regional in charge had been removed from his position for allowing IndyMac to falsify its financial reporting That same day, Rush Limbaugh not only continued to blame the Senator but recast IndyMac's July bankruptcy as an "October Surprise" planned by Democrats to help win the 2008 election.

Role in financial crisis

On December 14, 2008 the New York Times published an article on Schumer's role in the Wall Street meltdown. The article stated that Schumer "embraced the industry’s free-market, deregulatory agenda more than any other Democrat in Congress, even backing measures now blamed for contributing to the financial crisis... Schumer took steps to protect industry players from government oversight and tougher rules, a review of his record shows. Over the years, he has also helped save financial institutions billions of dollars in higher taxes or fees. He succeeded in limiting efforts to regulate credit-rating agencies." This article also charged that Schumer blocked ratings agencies reforms proposed by the Bush Administration and the Cox SEC.

"Porky" Amendments Controversy

While debating the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Schumer drew criticism when he asserted that Americans did not care that 'porky' amendments had been inserted into the bill. Said Schumer, "And let me say this to all the chattering classes that so much focus on those little, tiny, yes porky amendments. The American people really don’t care."

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee

Schumer was the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, part of the Democratic Senate Leadership, with primary responsibility for raising funds and recruiting candidates for the Democrats in the 2006 Senate election. When he took this post, he announced that he would not run for Governor of New York in 2006, as many had speculated he would. This step avoided a potentially divisive gubernatorial primary election in 2006 between Schumer and Eliot Spitzer, then New York's attorney general.

His tenure as DSCC chair was successful. In the 2006 elections, the Democratic Party gained six seats in the Senate, defeating incumbents in each of those races and regaining control of the Senate for the first time since 2002. Of the closely contested races in the Senate in 2006, the Democrats lost only one, in Tennesseemarker. Senate Majority Leader-to-be Harry Reid persuaded Schumer to serve another term as DSCC chair.

In September 2005, two staff employees of the DSCC illegally obtained a copy of the credit report of Lieutenant Governor of Maryland Michael S. Steele, a Republican senatorial candidate, posing as him and using his social security number. Upon learning this, the committee's executive director notified the U.S. attorney's office, and suspended the involved staffers. They are currently under investigation by the FBImarker. Schumer has not been implicated in the incident, and a spokesperson for the DSCC has said, "Chuck's only involvement was to report this matter to the authorities immediately after first learning about it."

In 2009, for the 111th Congress, Schumer has been replaced by Bob Menendez of New Jersey as the DSCC chair.

Electoral history

1998 New York Democratic United States Senatorial Primary Election

Chuck Schumer 51%
Geraldine Ferraro 21%
Mark J. Green 19%

1998 New York United States Senatorial Election

Chuck Schumer (D) 55%
Al D'Amato (R) (inc.) 44%

2004 New York United States Senatorial Election

Chuck Schumer (D) (inc.) 70.6%
Howard Mills III (Republican) 24.6%
Marilyn F. O'Grady (Conservative) 3.4%
David McReynolds (Green) 0.5%
Donald Silberger (Lib.) 0.3%
Abraham Hirschfeld (Builders Party) 0.2%
Martin Koppel (Socialist Workers) 0.2%

United States Senate election in New York, 2010

Senator Schumer is up for election in 2010.


  2. schumer
  3. Blaine Harden, Washington Post, Battle of the Mean Machines: Can Schumer Beat D'Amato at His Own Game?, October 5, 1998. Retrieved January 26, 2007.
  4. Sam Roberts, The New York Times, For Schumer, a Chance to Relive a 1960s Quiz Show, March 5, 2007. Retrieved March 6, 2007.
  5. Photo from Senate bio. Retrieved January 26, 2007.
  6. New York Times Taking Power, Sharing Cereal, January 18, 2007
  8. Federal Elections 98: U.S. Senate Results by State
  9. Senate hopeful claims GOP bosses snubbed him. Albany Times-Union, February 25, 2004.
  10. Major Parties to Anoint their Senate Combatants. Humbert, Mark. Associated Press, May 15, 2004.
  11. Survey USA
  12. Chuck Schumer NARAL
  13. U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 108th Congress - 1st Session
  15. Nat Hentoff, the Village Voice, What the Democrats Must Do, November 26, 2006. Retrieved January 26, 2007.
  16. Ebey Soman, Socyberty, Senator Schumer on Darfur Genocide, September 16, 2009. Retrieved November 1, 2009.
  23. Schumer routs Senate foes,, The Hardest Job In New York Goes To...
  24. March 11: Schumer calls on Gonzales to resign - The Talk
  25. YouTube - Schumer Calls For Gonzales' Resignation
  26. YouTube - Schumer 4
  27. Bush attorney general nominee gets key Democratic support -
  28. A Vote for Justice - New York Times
  29. Latest News
  30. Charles E. Schumer: Campaign Finance/Money - Contributions - 1989-2006
  31. Audit Report, Treasury OIG pdf
  32. Treasury’s Watchdog Reviewing Backdating of Capital at Thrifts
  33. Schumer Ripped IndyMac as Democratic Donors Probed Books
  34. Regulator Let IndyMac Bank Falsify Report
  35. Irregularity Uncovered at IndyMac
  36. Rush Limbaugh Program Transcript, Dec. 22, 2008
  38. url=,0,3020515.story

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