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Jim McGovern (U.S. politician)

Jim McGovern
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 2nd district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by Richard Neal
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 3rd district
In office
January 3, 1997 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by Peter Blute
Succeeded by Niki Tsongas
Personal details
Born (1959-11-20) November 20, 1959
Worcester, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Lisa Murray
Children 2
Alma mater American University
Religion Roman Catholicism

James Patrick "Jim" McGovern (born November 20, 1959) is a member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Massachusetts's 2nd congressional district. He is a member of the Democratic Party. The district, numbered as the 3rd District from 1997 to 2013, stretches from Worcester to the Pioneer Valley.

Born and raised in Joe Moakley. McGovern first ran for Congress in 1994, where he lost in the Democratic primary. He ran again in 1996, defeating Republican incumbent Peter Blute. He has been reelected every two years since then without serious difficulty.

A focus of his career has been international human rights, which he has advocated for in countries such as El Salvador, Sudan, and Colombia. He is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus[1] and has been ranked as one of the most liberal members of Congress.[2]


  • Early life 1
  • Congressional record 2
    • Electoral history 2.1
    • Domestic policy 2.2
      • Transportation 2.2.1
      • Fiscal policy 2.2.2
      • Education 2.2.3
      • Nutrition 2.2.4
      • Immigration 2.2.5
      • Health care 2.2.6
      • Corporate personhood 2.2.7
      • Social issues 2.2.8
    • Foreign policy 2.3
  • Political image 3
  • Family and personal life 4
  • Electoral history 5
  • References 6
    • General biographies 6.1
    • Footnotes 6.2
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8

Early life

James Patrick McGovern[3] was born in 1984 Democratic National Convention.[5]

In 1981 McGovern joined the Capitol Hill staff of Joe Moakley, a Democratic U.S. Representative from Massachusetts.[5] He was appointed by Moakley in 1990 to lead a House task force investigating the 1989 murder of six Jesuit priests and two women in El Salvador by the Salvadoran Army. He later advocated cutting off U.S. funding for the U.S. Army School of the Americas, where several of the military members had been trained.[5]

Congressional record

Electoral history

McGovern first ran for Congress in 1994, running in a crowded Democratic primary to represent the area then defined as Massachusetts's 3rd District.[5] The district, located in central and southeastern Massachusetts, included the city of Worcester and parts of Massachusetts State Representative Kevin O'Sullivan.[5][7]

McGovern left Moakley's office in 1996 and moved back to Worcester, again running for Congress. Unopposed in the Democratic primary, he ran against Republican incumbent Peter Blute in the general election. His campaign slogan focused on unseating House Speaker Newt Gingrich: "To dump Newt you have to dump Blute."[8] Blute was endorsed by The Boston Globe and five other local papers, but McGovern won the election with 53 percent of the vote.[4][9] He has never faced another contest nearly that close, and has been re-elected seven times. He ran unopposed in 2000 and 2002.[9]

The National Journal reported that McGovern has been able to use his Capitol Hill experience to help position himself as "a power broker in the Democratic caucus." In 2001, the dying Moakley asked Dick Gephardt to help McGovern attain a seat on Rules, which schedules much of the legislation for the House floor. He didn't receive that next seat, but was given a commitment for the next available Democratic seat. While on Rules, McGovern was able to use his experience with House procedures to his advantage. With Republicans comprising the majority of the panel, he "showed a sharp partisan edge as he embraced parliamentary maneuvers that led to cries of outrage" from House GOP members. McGovern is currently in position to take over the top Democratic position on Rules when Louise Slaughter retires.[10]

In 2004, he was opposed by Republican Massachusetts Family Institute. Crews, a national conservative activist, challenged McGovern's positions on same-sex marriage and abortion. McGovern derided his opponent's focus on social issues, saying, "When Ron Crews gets up in the morning, the first thing he thinks about is gay marriage. … I don't think that is the most important issue for most families. Jobs, health care, education, how to make the world a more peaceful place, those are the issues people care about."[11] McGovern defeated Crews with 71 percent of the vote, and ran unopposed in 2006 and 2008.[9]

In the 2010 election, he faced Republican Marty Lamb, a real estate lawyer, and independent Patrick J. Barron, a Department of Mental Health administrator.[12][13] He was re-elected with 57 percent of the vote.[14]

For his first eight terms, McGovern represented a district stretching from Worcester through much of MetroWest. However, when Massachusetts lost a district in the 2010 Census, McGovern's district was renumbered as the 2nd District and pushed as far west as Amherst and the Pioneer Valley.

Domestic policy

Committee assignments
114th Congress (2015–17)[15]


For his first three terms, McGovern served on the House Transportation Committee. He and fellow Massachusetts representative John Olver, who served on the House Appropriations Committee, would coordinate to bring extensive transportation funding to their respective districts. When criticized for his heavy use of earmarks, McGovern was quoted in response saying, "It's not pork. It's nourishment."[16]

Fiscal policy

McGovern supported economic stimulus efforts during the [20] He voted to instate the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act in February 2010.[21]


The Higher Education Act of 1998 included an amendment by McGovern that doubled Pell Grant funding for two years for students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their class.[22]


McGovern in 2013, addressing the Food Policy session of the United States Conference of Mayors in Washington D.C.

As co-chair of the House Hunger Caucus, McGovern is an advocate for expanding child nutrition programs both domestically and internationally.[23] In 2007 McGovern obtained $840 million in required funding for the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program in the House version of the farm bill.[24] The House–Senate conference committee stripped most of the funding from the final bill.[25]

As the co-chairman of the Congressional Hunger Center, McGovern has pushed for changes to foreign aid and hunger relief programs. He proposed establishing a "hunger czar position" to take on food issues. McGovern also took part in the Food stamp challenge, which entailed living on the average $21 in food stamps over the course of a week.[26]


McGovern has voted against major efforts to restrict illegal immigration, including the REAL ID Act of 2005,[27] the Border Protection, Anti-terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005,[28] and the Secure Fence Act of 2006.[29]

Health care

McGovern believes health care is a human right. He voted for the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, ultimately pushing for a robust public option which wasn't included in the final measure.[26]

Corporate personhood

In 2010, McGovern said that he thought the Supreme Court's Citizen's United case was wrongly decided, and that money does not equal free speech. He elaborated, saying that corporations should not "have the same equality as a regular voter." At first he said that "the Constitution was wrong," but he later said that he had misspoken. On November 15, 2011 McGovern introduced the People's Rights Amendment, a proposal to limit the Constitution's protections to only the rights of natural persons, and not corporations.[30] In January 2012, McGovern promoted his participation in a panel discussion entitled "Corporations are not people."[31] On July 14, 2014 McGovern introduced H.J. Res 119 with Representative Ted Deutch, which includes a section to address corporate personhood, as quoted here, "Congress and the States shall have power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation, and may distinguish between natural persons and corporations or other artificial entities created by law, including by prohibiting such entities from spending money to influence elections."

Social issues

McGovern has a pro-choice record on abortion. He voted against the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in October 2003[32] and the Unborn Victims of Violence Act in February 2004.[33] He supports stem cell research, having voted in favor of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act in 2005, 2007, and 2009.[34] He voted for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2007, which would have prevented employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.[35] He voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would have constitutionally outlawed same-sex marriage, in 2004 and 2006,[36] and co-sponsored the Respect for Marriage Act of 2009, which would allow the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages.[37]

Foreign policy

McGovern has vocally opposed the Iraq War since its inception.[5] He voted against the initial authorization of military force against Iraq in October 2002.[38] In May 2007, McGovern introduced H.R. 2237, to "provide for the redeployment of United States Armed Forces and defense contractors from Iraq." The bill failed with a vote of 255 to 171.

He initially supported the War in Afghanistan, but has become increasingly skeptical of the war. In June 2010 he pushed a funding amendment which would require President Barack Obama to provide for a draw-down plan before any further funding would be authorized. "Let us not waste, you know, more resources, more lives, on a policy that quite frankly is going to lead us nowhere," said McGovern. "We need to let Afghan President Hamid Karzai know that we're not a cheap date. … We expect him to clean up his government."[39]

McGovern has been a prominent voice against the Islamist governments of

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Peter Blute
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 3rd congressional district

Succeeded by
Niki Tsongas
Preceded by
Richard Neal
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 2nd congressional district

United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Ron Kind
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Bill Pascrell
  • Congressman James P. McGovern official U.S. House site
  • Jim McGovern for Congress
  • Jim McGovern at DMOZ

External links

Further reading

  1. ^ "Congressional Progressive Caucus". June 2, 2010. Archived from the original on August 4, 2010. Retrieved August 23, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "2007 Vote Ratings (03/07/2008)". National Journal. Archived from the original on August 14, 2010. Retrieved August 23, 2010. 
  3. ^ McGovern, Jim (December 6, 1998). "Statement of Candidacy".  
  4. ^ a b McCarthy, Colman (November 19, 1996). "This time, an upset for McGovern". The Washington Post. p. D20. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Koszczuk & Angle 2007.
  6. ^ National Atlas
  7. ^ Connolly, Timothy J (September 8, 1994). "McGovern runs as Washington insider".  
  8. ^ Oliphant, Thomas (December 17, 1995). "Aiming at Newt through Blute".  
  9. ^ a b c d Election results, 1996–2008:
    • "Office of the House Clerk – Electoral Statistics". Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. pp. 1996–2008. Retrieved September 15, 2010. 
    • "Election Results". Federal Election Commission. pp. 1996–2008. Retrieved September 15, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Rep. Jim McGovern (D)". NJ Almanac. National Journal. 
  11. ^ Vennochi, John (May 20, 2004). "'"McGovern faces fight over 'values. The Boston Globe. p. A19. Retrieved September 25, 2010. 
  12. ^ Dayal, Priyanka (September 15, 2010). "Lamb takes GOP: Winner faces McGovern in November".  
  13. ^ Dayal, Priyanka (September 1, 2010). "Barron qualifies for Nov. 2 ballot: 'Low-budget campaign' planned".  
  14. ^ a b Election results, 2010:
    • "US House – 3rd Massachusetts – Campaign 2010". Boston Globe. Retrieved November 7, 2010. 
  15. ^ "Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.)".  
  16. ^ Hohler, Bob; Globe Staff (November 19, 1999). "Hard-dealing congressmen reap $760M for Bay State". The Boston Globe. p. A1. Retrieved September 25, 2010. 
  17. ^ H.R. 5140
  18. ^ H.R. 1424
  19. ^ H.R. 1
  20. ^ Espo, David (February 25, 2009). "House OKs $410B bill to boost domestic programs".  
  21. ^ H.J.Res. 45
  22. ^ Black, Chris (September 30, 1998). "Senate backs college aid bill: Hurdle cleared for rise in student grants, loans". The Boston Globe. p. A3. Retrieved September 25, 2010. 
  23. ^ Vallejo, Stephanie (June 10, 2010). "McGovern, Rachael Ray push for child nutrition programs". The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 26, 2010. 
  24. ^ Morgan, Dan (July 27, 2007). "House rejects Farm Bill". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 26, 2010. 
  25. ^ Morgan, Dan (May 6, 2008). "Farm Bill negotiators cut funds for overseas school lunch program". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 26, 2010. 
  26. ^ a b c "James P. McGovern (D-Mass.)". Who Runs Gov (The Washington Post). July 23, 2012. 
  27. ^ H.R. 418, incorporated into H.R. 1268
  28. ^ H.R. 4437
  29. ^ H.R. 6061
  30. ^ H.J.Res. 88
  31. ^ McGovern, Jim. "Corporations are not people: A special panel with Sen. Eldridge, John Bonifaz, and Jeff Clements". BlueMassGroup. Retrieved June 21, 2012. 
  32. ^ S. 3
  33. ^ H.R. 1997
  34. ^ H.R. 810, H.R. 3, and H.R. 873
  35. ^ H.R. 3685
  36. ^ H.J.Res. 106, H.J.Res. 88
  37. ^ H.R. 3567
  38. ^ H.J.Res. 114
  39. ^ "Russian Spy Confesses; President Obama Speaks on Immigration Reform; Hurricane Alex Complicates Gulf Oil Cleanup".  
  40. ^ Doyle, Jim (April 28, 2006). "Five members of Congress arrested over Sudan protest". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved September 25, 2006. 
  41. ^ Rhee, Foon (April 27, 2009). "McGovern, other lawmakers arrested at Darfur protest". Boston Globe. Retrieved February 23, 2010. 
  42. ^ Corcoran, Lindsay. "McGovern Arrested During Protest in D.C.". The Westborough Daily Voice. Retrieved July 19, 2012. 
  43. ^ Melady, Mark (April 14, 2007). "McGovern suggests boycott of Olympics".  
  44. ^ "Review & Outlook: A FARC Fan's Notes". Wall Street Journal. March 25, 2008. Retrieved June 23, 2008. 
  45. ^ "McGovern angry over claim he backs Colombian rebels".  
  46. ^ "Condemning the Government of Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of its Baha'i minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights. (Introduced in House)" (Press release). House of Representatives, Congressional Record. February 13, 2009. Retrieved March 1, 2009. 
  47. ^ "Local Baha'is worry about their fellow believers in Iran".  
  48. ^ BBC NEWS. Top Iranian dissident threatened
  49. ^ "Grandmothers of Elian Gonzalez meet With New England lawmakers". Boston Globe. January 25, 2000. Archived from the original on March 19, 2005. 
  50. ^ "Grandmothers Lobby At Capitol For Elian's Return". Sun-Sentinel. January 26, 2000. 
  51. ^ "About the Committee". Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. Retrieved May 21, 2011. 
  52. ^ Washington Office on Latin America
  53. ^ "WOLA's Human Rights Awards". Washington Office on Latin America. September 20, 2011. Retrieved June 1, 2012. 
  54. ^ a b "H.Res. 418 - Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  55. ^ a b c Marcos, Cristina (7 May 2014). "House passes resolution pressuring Burmese government to end genocide". The Hill. Retrieved 8 May 2014. 
  56. ^ Slack, Donovan (August 28, 2010). "Running hard against the Scott Brown effect". The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 25, 2010. 
  57. ^ Data assembled from Koszczuk & Angle 2007 and previous editions.
  58. ^ "How They Voted 2011 – House".  
  59. ^ McGovern 2010.
  60. ^ "Rep. McGovern has surgery for thyroid cancer". The Boston Globe. November 8, 2010. Archived from the original on November 11, 2010. Retrieved November 8, 2010. 


  • Alston, Farnsworth; Carter, Mary Ann; Randolph, Sarah (eds.) (2009). "McGovern, James P.".  
  • Koszczuk, Jackie; Angle, Martha (eds.) (2007). "Rep. Jim McGovern (D)".  
  • McGovern, James P. (2010). "About Jim". Congressman James McGovern. United States House of Representatives. Retrieved September 14, 2010. 

General biographies



Democratic candidate Republican candidate Other candidate
Year Candidate Votes Candidate Votes Candidate Party Votes
1996 Jim McGovern 135,047 52.9% Peter Blute (Incumbent) 115,695 45.4% Dale E. Friedgen Natural Law 3,363 1.3%
1998 Jim McGovern (Incumbent) 108,613 56.9% Matthew J. Amorello 79,174 41.5% George Phillies Libertarian 2,887 1.1%
2000 Jim McGovern (Incumbent) 213,065 98.8% None None
2002 Jim McGovern (Incumbent) 155,697 98.8% None None
2004 Jim McGovern (Incumbent) 192,036 70.5% Ronald A. Crews 80,197 29.4% None
2006 Jim McGovern (Incumbent) 166,973 98.8% None None
2008 Jim McGovern (Incumbent) 227,619 98.5% None None
2010 Jim McGovern (Incumbent) 122,357 56.5% Marty Lamb 85,124 39.2% Patrick Barron Independent 9,388 4.3%
2012 Jim McGovern (Incumbent) 259,257 98.5% None None
2014 Jim McGovern (Incumbent) 169,140 98.2% None None

Electoral history

McGovern lives in Worcester with his wife, Lisa Murray McGovern, a former aide to U.S. Representative Gerry Studds. They have two children, Patrick and Molly. He has two sisters, who are teachers in the Worcester public school system.[59] In November 2010 he underwent surgery to remove his thyroid gland after being diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer, from which he is expected to recover.[60]

Family and personal life

From 1997 to 2007, the liberal advocacy group Americans for Democratic Action gave him an average vote rating of 98.5 percent, whereas its conservative counterpart, the American Conservative Union, gave him an average vote rating of 2.5 percent.[57] The United States Chamber of Commerce, which advocates for business-oriented policies, has given McGovern a 33 percent lifetime rating as of 2011.[58]

McGovern has aligned himself with liberal and [26]

(l–r) McGovern campaigning in 2012 on behalf of U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, alongside Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray at an Auburn rally.

Political image

On November 18, 2013, McGovern introduced the simple resolution Urging the Government of Burma to end the persecution of the Rohingya people and respect internationally recognized human rights for all ethnic and religious minority groups within Burma (H.Res. 418; 113th Congress) into the United States House of Representatives.[54] The resolution calls on the government of Burma to end the persecution and discrimination of the Rohingya people within its borders and calls on the United States government and the international community to pressure the Burmese to do so.[54][55] The resolution is in response to allegations of Burmese Buddhist attacks on Rohingya Muslims that may have occurred earlier in 2014.[55] McGovern argued that "the Burmese government needs to recognize the Rohingya as an ethnic group. The situation is dire and rapidly deteriorating."[55]

In 2002 McGovern joined the Congressional Cuba Working Group, which advocated for lowering restrictions on travel and food shipment to Cuba.[5] He is the current co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (formerly the "Human Rights Caucus").[51] His work on human rights issues earned him the Washington Office on Latin America's[52] "Human Rights Award" in 2007[53]

In 2000, McGovern met with the Cuban grandmothers of five-year-old Elian Gonzalez.[49] Elian's mother had drowned while trying to escape from Cuba with the boy. Although Elian had reached Florida safely, McGovern advocated the boy's return to his father's custody in Cuba.[50]

On February 13, 2009, McGovern offered a resolution on the subject of the trial of the Iranian Bahá'í leadership co-sponsored by seven others in H.Res. 175 – "Condemning the Government of Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of its Baha'i minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights" which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs.[46] The situation has gathered international attention including defense of Nobel Laureate attorney Shirin Ebadi in June[47] after she received threats in April warning her against making speeches abroad, and defending Iran's minority Baha'i community[48] (See Arrest of Bahá'í leaders).

McGovern has traveled several times to Colombia to meet with human rights advocates, and has been very critical of Plan Colombia and US military aid to that country. On March 25, 2008, the Wall Street Journal published an unsigned editorial suggesting that McGovern supported the Marxist FARC rebels in Colombia. According to the Journal, an investigation of the computer hard drive of the recently killed Raúl Reyes, second-in-command of the FARC, had turned up material indicating “an ardent effort” on the part of McGovern “to do business directly with the FARC.” The article said that McGovern had been “working with an American go-between, who has been offering the rebels help in undermining Colombia's elected and popular government.”[44] In response to these charges, McGovern said that his concern was to help win the release of hostages held by the FARC, as requested by several families of Americans held by the FARC.[45] He said that he had no sympathy for the rebels or for their hostage-taking.

In April 2007, he called for the United States and other countries to boycott the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China to protest the Chinese government's support of the Sudanese government and, by extension, the genocide in Darfur.[43]


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