Time Magazine recently named Carl Levin as one of the ten best Senators in the nation, reporting that he has “gained respect from both parties for his attention to detail and deep knowledge of policy,” and that “his carefully researched, thoughtful remarks carry great weight with his colleagues.”
Since 1979, Carl has represented the people of Michigan in the United States Senate, where he has fought for Michigan jobs and the Michigan economy; for affordable and accessible health care; for the Great Lakes and a clean, safe environment; for high quality education; and for Social Security and prescription drug coverage, agriculture programs, and the roads and infrastructure that benefit so many Michigan citizens and businesses.
A Senate colleague once remarked on the floor of the Senate that Carl “adds new meaning to ‘fighting like a pit bull.’ Every day, there is Senator Levin, making sure, ‘Hey, what about Michigan?’”
Carl has been a leading voice in the fight for trade policies that would create a level playing field with our trading partners and promote U.S. manufacturers. Last year Carl joined with Congressman John Dingell and others to propose the American Manufacturing Initiative (AMI), a comprehensive manufacturing policy that calls for investments in manufacturing competitiveness and cracking down on unfair barriers to trade constructed by foreign governments.
As the co-chair of the Senate Auto and Auto Parts Task Force, Carl has focused on ways to ensure that American manufactures are competing against foreign companies, not unfair trade agreements and foreign governments. Carl has fought for energy policies that decrease our dependence on foreign oil and protect our national energy security, while also promoting renewable energy sources, environmentally responsible domestic production, and tax incentives for energy efficiency and advanced automobile technology.
Carl Levin is the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee where he has worked to make America more secure and fought to reduce fraud and waste in the Department of Defense. He has strongly supported programs to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the means to produce them, and he has argued for years that any national missile defense system should be tested and proven before it is deployed. He has been recognized for his passionate commitment to the readiness, morale, and welfare of our men and women in uniform. In 2008, he co-sponsored the “Dignified Treatment of Wounded Warriors Act,” an historic reform to improve the way veterans receive medical care and ongoing support. The legislation was enacted with bipartisan support.
Last year, the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute awarded Carl its Four Freedoms Medal in recognition of his leadership in the Senate on foreign and military policy. In 2004, the National Guard Association awarded Carl the 2004 Harry S. Truman Award for distinguished service in support of national defense. In 2003, the Secretary of the Navy presented Carl with the Distinguished Public Service Award, the highest award given to a civilian. He was also awarded the Commander’s Cross with the Star of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland.
Carl opposed the unilateral decision of the Bush Administration to attack Iraq. Although he has been critical of the Administration’s policies and actions in Iraq, particularly the misuse of prewar intelligence to exaggerate the threat posed by Iraq, he has worked tirelessly to find ways the United States can help support the creation of a unified, democratic government in Iraq and to bring our forces home sooner rather than later. Columnist E.J. Dionne wrote that “This administration rarely pays attention to constructive criticism from the opposition party. But somebody in the White House ought to listen to Sen. Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat who opposed the war but keeps trying to help Bush find a way out of this mess.”
Carl is also the Chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where he has focused on issues that impact the lives and livelihood of so many Americans, including credit card practices that keep families mired in debt and record-high oil and natural gas prices. He has gained international recognition for his thorough investigations into abusive tax shelters, off-shore tax avoidance, Enron accounting practices, money laundering, terrorist financing, corporate tax evasion, and high oil prices. In 2007, the Senate passed the “Close the Enron Loophole Act,” which Carl introduced to stop speculation in the natural gas markets. He has also introduced the “Stop Unfair Practices in Credit Cards Act,” to stop abusive credit card practices.
Carl has also long led efforts to make the federal government more efficient and more ethical. He authored the Competition in Contracting Act to reduce government procurement costs and the Whistleblower Protection Act to protect federal employees who expose waste, fraud and abuse, and he coauthored the Taxpayers Bill of Rights to protect individuals and small businesses from IRS harassment. Carl was the principal author of the Ethics Reform Act in 1989, which simplified and strengthened ethics requirements for the government and prohibited members of Congress from accepting honoraria from special interests. In 1995 he authored legislation to ban gifts and paid trips to senators, as well as to impose strict disclosure requirements for lobbyists. In 2007, he supported the most significant ethics reform enacted in more than a decade to require transparency in lobbying.
As co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, Carl has fought to clean up and protect the Great Lakes, one of the world’s greatest natural resources. He has led Senate passage of the Great Lakes Critical Programs Act and the Great Lakes Legacy Act to fight pollution and toxic contaminated sediments and to ensure the water quality of the lakes, on which millions of people rely for drinking water. He has also led efforts to minimize the damage done by invasive species that threaten the lakes’ ecosystem.
Carl’s decade-long effort to come up with a more effective means of combating drug abuse and addiction paid off in 2000 when President Clinton signed into law the Drug Addiction Treatment Act, which Carl Levin authored with bipartisan support. This law permits physicians, for the first time, to prescribe and dispense in their private offices a medication called buprenorphine, which actually blocks the craving for heroin with a non-addictive substance. This new office-based system has opened the door to treatment to tens of thousands of individuals previously unable or reluctant to seek medical treatment at centralized and distant methadone clinics.
Carl was born in Detroit and attended Detroit public schools. He is a graduate of Swarthmore College and Harvard Law School. Before being elected to the Senate, Carl served as Michigan assistant attorney general and general counsel for the Michigan Civil Rights Commission from 1964-67. He was special assistant attorney general for the State of Michigan and chief appellate defender 1968-69. Carl served as a member of the Detroit City Council from 1970-77, the last four years as Council President.
Carl Levin married Barbara Halpern in 1961. They have three daughters and five grandchildren. His brother, Sander, has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1983.