- Former Democratic Member of Congress
- Former Member of the Progressive Caucus
- Co-sponsored a bill to ease trade restrictions against the Communist dictatorship in Cuba
- Sat on the House Armed Services Committee
From 1983 to 2007, Lane Evans was a Democratic Member of Congress representing the 17th District of Illinois.
Evans was born in Rock Island, Illinois in August 1951, the son of a union firefighter. He joined the Marine Corps in 1969 and served two years, then earned his undergraduate degree at Augustana College in 1974 and a Juris Doctorate at Georgetown University in 1978. He worked as a legal services lawyer until 1982.
Evans first ran for Congress in 1982. Tom Railsback, the longtime moderate Republican incumbent, lost that year’s GOP primary to the more conservative Kenneth McMillan, whom Evans defeated in the November election with 53 percent of the vote. Evans thereafter was re-elected every two years until he retired, due to the increasingly debilitating effects of Parkinson’s Disease, in January 2007.
In October 1998 Evans joined 30 other Democrats in authorizing an impeachment inquiry regarding Democratic President Bill Clinton, although Evans later voted against impeachment.
In 2002 Evans 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 drug-running guerrilla terrorist organization FARC (Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces), the 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 received from Fidel Castro and 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 2003 Evans co-sponsored a bill to ease trade restrictions against the Communist dictatorship in Cuba, although he fervently opposed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and most other trade-expanding arrangements. He strongly supported welfare for farmers in the form of government agricultural subsidies.
Evans sat on the House Armed Services Committee and was ranking member of its Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee. He supported compensation for Vietnam War veterans who might have been harmed by exposure to the herbicide Agent Orange. He sought to outlaw and remove land mines, including those protecting South Korea’s border with Communist North Korea, and those protecting the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay in Communist Cuba. And he sought ways to halt U.S. production of Tritium, an ingredient without which the hydrogen bombs in America’s military arsenal could not be maintained or renewed.
Describing himself as a “populist,” Evans belonged to the Congressional Progressive Caucus in the House of Representatives. For an overview of how he voted on a variety of key issues during his legislative career, click here.
Organized labor was by far the largest source of Evans’ political campaign money, supplying two-thirds of all his political action committee donations. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and United Auto Workers unions were his top two contributors. He also received a great deal of money from the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (now known as the American Association for Justice).