- Democratic member of the U.S. Senate
- Member of the radical Progressive Caucus
Since 2006 Sherrod Brown has been a Democratic member of the U.S. Senate, representing Ohio. From 1992-2006, he was a congressman representing the 13th District of Ohio, which stretches from the industrial outskirts of Cleveland to western Akron.
Brown was born in 1952 in Mansfield, Ohio, the son of a doctor. He graduated from Yale University in 1974 and that same year was elected to Ohio’s House of Representatives. He served there until 1982, when he was elected Ohio’s Secretary of State, a position he lost in 1990 to Bob Taft. In 1992, with heavy backing from organized labor, Brown was elected to Congress by running a loud anti-NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), pro-universal health care campaign.
In 2002 Brown joined 44 other members of Congress, all but two of whom were Democrats, in signing a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell alleging human rights violations by the Government of Colombia in its war against the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) -- the drug-running, guerrilla terrorist, military wing of the Colombian Communist Party. This letter -- published worldwide and used as pro-FARC, anti-Government of Colombia propaganda -- made no mention of FARC’s thousands of murders and atrocities, nor of the support it was receiving from Cuba's Fidel Castro and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. The letter urged Secretary Powell “to take our concerns into account when determining whether to approve additional military aid for Colombia this year.”
In a 2005 speech, Brown praised a member of Mexico's Party of the Democratic Revolution, Adolpho Aguilar Zinser, as a “true patriot, a true fighter for his country, and a friend to so many of us.” The congressman also said he "admired" Zinser as a champion of “social and economic justice.” Two years earlier, Zinser, while serving as Mexico’s UN ambassador, had stated that the U.S. viewed Mexico as "its back yard" and was only seeking a “relationship of convenience and subordination” with its southern neighbor. In the 1970s Zinser had served in a high-level post with the administration of Mexican President Luis Echeverria, who strove to nationalize industries, redistribute land, and increase a host of government subsidies. From 1994-97, Zinser represented the Party of the Democratic Revolution, which had been formed in 1989 as the result of a merger between the Mexican Communist Party, the Unified Socialist Party of Mexico, and the Socialist Mexican Party.
In Congress, Brown sat on the Energy & Commerce Committee and was the ranking member of its Health Subcommittee. He received more political action committee (PAC) contributions from the health industry than he did even from organized labor. Of his top 20 campaign donors, at least 13 were professional medical associations or health-related companies.
Also as a member of the House of Representatives, Brown belonged to the radical Progressive Caucus. The leftwing Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) rates his voting record as 95 percent on the left side of legislation.
Brown's legislative record includes the following noteworthy votes (all quotations are courtesy of Project VoteSmart):
- In October 2002 he voted against a "resolution to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq."
- In June 2006 he voted against “a resolution ... stating that it is not in the security interest of the U.S. to set an arbitrary date for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.”
- In September 2007 he voted in favor of "an amendment to begin reducing the number of U.S. forces in Iraq within 90 days ... with the exception of a limited number of U.S. forces ..."
- In February 2008 he voted against “a bill [to expand] the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, including allowing electronic surveillance of foreigners outside the U.S. without a court order and granting immunity to electronic communication surveillance providers.”
- In April 2005 he voted against allowing oil drilling on a 20-acre plot of the 1.2 million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska.
- In June 2007 he voted against “an amendment that would allow the Governor of the state of Virginia to petition the Secretary of the Interior to allow for natural gas exploration and extraction at least fifty miles from the coastal zone.”
- In September 2007 he voted against an amendment that would “prohibit Federal funds from being distributed to organizations that support the practices of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.”
- In April 2005 he voted against a bill to prohibit “the transportation of a minor across state lines to obtain an abortion without the consent of a parent or legal guardian.”
- In October 2003 he voted against a bill to prohibit the procedure commonly known as partial-birth abortion. He also voted against a similar bill in April 2000 and on several other occasions.
- In April 2001 he voted against “a bill that criminalizes harming an unborn child/fetus while committing any of 68 federal offenses.”
- In May 2001 he voted against the Bush tax cuts, a bill “that would cut income taxes $958.2 billion over an 11-year period.”
- In July 1996 he voted against a bill defining marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.”
- In March 2008 he voted against “an amendment that allows the Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee to increase spending levels for certain border security and immigration-enforcement programs.”
Brown urges enforcement of laws against importing goods made with slave labor in Communist China. He does this both to improve human rights there and to reduce competition for union-made goods in the United States. Brown also has opposed "most-favored-nation" trade status for China, and he opposes letting Mexican trucks enter the U.S. as permitted by NAFTA.
Brown is the author of two books. One is Myths of Free Trade: How and Why America’s Trade Policy Flies in the Face of Reality (2004). The other is Congress from the Inside: Observations from the Majority and the Minority (1999), in which Brown writes that House Democrats lost their majority in 1994 because “we were blamed for everything the voters did not like.”
In February 2010, it was reported that a "clean technology" bill sponsored by Brown -- the "Investments for Manufacturing Progress and Clean Technology Act of 2009" -- was drafted with the help of the Apollo Alliance.