- Democratic Member of Congress
- Member of the Progressive Caucus
- Opposes U.S. sanctions against Cuba
Jim McGovern is a Democratic Member of Congress who represents the Third District of Massachusetts.
Born in Worcester, Massachusetts in November 1959, McGovern graduated from American University in Washington, DC in 1981. He worked as an aide to South Dakota Senator George McGovern (no relation) during his college years, from 1977 to 1980, and in 1984 he ran Senator McGovern's Massachusetts presidential primary campaign. He also served as senior aide and then as chief of staff to the late Massachusetts Democratic Congressman Joseph Moakley from 1982 to 1996.
McGovern first made headlines in 1989 when he led a congressional committee investigation into the murders of six Jesuits and two lay women in El Salvador. McGovern blamed these crimes on the elected anti-Communist Salvadoran government that was fighting against Marxist Sandinista-and-Cuban-backed terrorists from neighboring Nicaragua. He played a key role in persuading congressional Democrats to cut off U.S. aid to El Salvador.
In 1996, with strong support and advertising money from the AFL-CIO, McGovern defeated moderate two-term Republican congressman Peter Blute to win a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. A major issue in the race was McGovern's apparent affinity for Latin American Marxists, especially for Communist dictator Fidel Castro, with whom he had developed a cordial relationship during his multiple trips to Cuba; McGovern once persuaded Castro to make the personal papers of former Cuban resident Ernest Hemingway accessible to American scholars. Calling for an end to U.S. sanctions against Castro’s regime, McGovern is a member of the Cuba Working Group, which aims to lift the ban prohibiting Americans from visiting the island nation.
In 1999 McGovern became involved in the high-profile case of Elian Gonzalez, the five-year-old Cuban boy whose mother had drowned while trying to escape Cuba and bring her son to the United States. After his mother's death, Elian reached a safe haven in Florida. But Congressman McGovern worked closely with the boy's father, with Castro's secret police representing the father, and with Democrat comrades in the Clinton administration to have the youngster returned to Havana.
In April 2007 McGovern called for the United States and other countries to boycott the 2008 Olympic Games slated for Beijing, China—to protest the Chinese government's support for the Sudanese government, which was responsible for the ongoing slaughter of non-Arabs in Darfur.
A leading congressional opponent of the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (USCFTA), McGovern helped persuade House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to defeat the proposed pact in April 2008. He has likewise tried to cut U.S. military aid to the government of Colombia, aid that was being used to fight against Castro-backed Communist insurgents and narco-terrorists like the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia).
On March 25, 2008, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that the computer hard drive of the recently killed Raúl Reyes, No. 2 in command of the FARC, revealed “an ardent effort to do business directly with the FARC by Congressman James McGovern ... a leading opponent of the [USCFTA]. Mr. McGovern has been working with an American go-between, who has been offering the rebels help in undermining Colombia's elected and popular government.” WSJ’s conclusion was that “Some Democrats oppose the Colombia trade deal because they sympathize more with FARC's terrorists than with a U.S. anti-terror ally.”
McGovern is a member of the radical Progressive Caucus in the House of Representatives. His leftwing voting record, according to Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), hovers between 90 and 100 percent. During his legislative career, McGovern has voted:
- against the development of a national missile defense system;
- against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001;
- against the post-9/11 anti-terrorism measure known as the Patriot Act;
- against allowing the U.S. government to use electronic surveillance to investigate suspected terrorist operatives;
- against a bill permitting the government to combat potential terrorist threats by monitoring foreign electronic communications which are routed through the United States;
- against an October 2002 joint resolution authorizing U.S. military action in Iraq;
- against the establishment of military commissions to try enemy combatants captured in the war on terror;
- in favor of withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq immediately and by a preordained date;
- against President Bush’s 2007 decision to deploy some 21,500 additional U.S. soldiers in an effort to quell the violent insurgents in Iraq;
- in favor of a proposal to expedite the transfer of all prisoners in the Guantanamo Bay detention center;
- against requiring hospitals to report (to the federal government) illegal aliens who receive emergency medical treatment;
- against separate proposals calling for the construction of some 700 miles of fencing to prevent illegal immigration along America's southern border;
- against a proposal to grant state and local officials the authority to investigate, identify, and arrest illegal immigrants;
- against major tax cut proposals in September 1998, February 2000, March 2000, July 2000, May 2001, May 2003, October 2004, and May 2006;
- in favor of prohibiting oil and gas exploration in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR);
- against a proposal to fund offshore oil exploration along the Outer Continental Shelf.