Rhode Islanders know Sheldon Whitehouse as a tireless fighter for middle-class values. For more than three decades, he’s been on the side of families working for a decent living, a good education, and dignity in retirement.
The Providence Journal described Sheldon as “a strong-willed and articulate member of the Senate on national issues and an energetic champion of Rhode Island economic and other interests.”
From his father, a World War II veteran and diplomat, Sheldon learned early on the value of serving your community and country. That spirit of public service has guided his approach to making our government and our economy work for all Rhode Islanders, not just for the special interests in Washington.Sheldon and his wife Sandra, a marine biologist and environmental advocate, live in Newport. They have two children, Molly and Alexander.
As Rhode Island’s Director of Business Regulation under Governor Bruce Sundlun, Sheldon brought together the labor and business communities to overhaul the state’s workers’ compensation program, reining in spiraling costs for employers while preserving benefits for employees. In 1994, on the recommendation of Senator Claiborne Pell, President Bill Clinton nominated Sheldon to be Rhode Island’s U.S. Attorney. In that role, he successfully prosecuted notorious organized crime figures and made sure the record compensation he won for Rhode Islanders following the Narragansett Bay oil spill was used for conservation. Later, as Rhode Island Attorney General, Sheldon initiated a lawsuit to hold lead paint manufacturers responsible for the harmful effects of lead poisoning on Rhode Island children. He founded the Rhode Island Quality Institute to help our health care system reward good care and reduce waste. Today, Rhode Island’s knowledge and health care economy is leading the nation in this effort.
On November 7, 2006, Rhode Islanders elected Sheldon to the United States Senate, where he’s earned a reputation for standing up for progressive principles and finding common ground with Republicans and Democrats to get things done. To help create good jobs and strengthen small businesses, Sheldon has introduced legislation to give tax credits to companies that hire unemployed workers, and to eliminate tax incentives for companies that ship jobs overseas. He is also a strong advocate for economic fairness and author of the Buffett Rule, legislation that would force multi-million-dollar earners to pay the same tax rates as middle-class Rhode Islanders.
Sheldon understands what Social Security and Medicare—the twin pillars of economic fairness and retirement security—mean to Rhode Island seniors and their families. He joined the Senate Finance Committee to protect the solvency of these vital programs without jeopardizing the benefits Americans receive. And he fought to close the Medicare prescription drug “doughnut hole” and to eliminate fraud and abuse—again, without cutting benefits for our seniors.
Sheldon knows that in the Ocean State, our economy and our way of life depend on the health of our environment. As a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Sheldon has championed efforts to reduce carbon pollution, protect our air and water, and position Rhode Island as a leader in the clean energy economy. He founded the Senate Oceans Caucus to promote creative, bipartisan policy solutions that protect our oceans, our coasts, and the people and economies that rely on them.
When Sheldon was a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, he played a pivotal role in the crafting and implementation of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, and in the fight to protect the affordable health care that law made available to millions of Americans. Like many Rhode Islanders, Sheldon knows how devastating a cancer diagnosis can be to a family. In 2013, his legislation to improve research on the deadliest forms of cancer was signed into law. Sheldon worked on the HELP Committee to strengthen struggling schools and prevent students from falling behind. He continues to fight to ensure that Senator Pell’s legacy—the Pell Grant program—remains strong so the next generation of Americans can turn the dream of a college education into a reality.
To combat the terrible epidemic of opioid addiction that has gripped Rhode Island and communities across the country, Sheldon wrote the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act with Republican Senator Rob Portman. Enacted in 2016, the law gives communities, law enforcement, and health professionals tools to end this public health crisis.
And in the Judiciary Committee, Sheldon is leading the way on campaign finance reform and on protecting the independence and integrity of the federal courts.
These days, it’s more important than ever that we send leaders to Washington who understand that it’s by looking out for one another–not pitting one group against another–that we build stronger communities and a stronger country. At community dinners and town hall meetings in every corner of the state, Sheldon invites all Rhode Islanders to share their concerns about the challenges families face, and their hopes for a bright future. With your help, he continues to fight to fulfill the promise his father’s generation fought for: freedom and opportunity for every American.