Sherrod Brown

Sherrod Brown
Sherrod Brown official photo 2009.jpg
United States Senator
from Ohio

January 3, 2007
Serving with Rob Portman
Mike DeWine
Vice Chair of the Joint Pensions Committee

March 8, 2018
Position established
Ranking Member of the Senate Banking Committee

January 3, 2015
Mike Crapo
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 13th district

January 3, 1993 - January 3, 2007
Donald J. Pease
Betty Sutton
47th Secretary of State of Ohio

January 12, 1983 - January 14, 1991
GovernorDick Celeste
Anthony J. Celebrezze Jr.
Bob Taft
Member of the Ohio House of Representatives
from the 61st district

January 3, 1975 - December 31, 1982
Joan Douglass
Frank Sawyer
Personal details
BornSherrod Campbell Brown
(1952-11-09) November 9, 1952 (age 66)
Mansfield, Ohio, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Larke Ummel
(m. 1979; div. 1987)

Connie Schultz (m. 2004)
EducationYale University (BA)
Ohio State University (MA, MPA)
WebsiteSenate website

Sherrod Campbell Brown (born November 9, 1952) is an American politician who is the senior United States Senator from Ohio, first elected in 2006. A Democrat, he previously represented Ohio's 13th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives. Before that, he was Ohio Secretary of State, after having been a member of the Ohio House of Representatives.

Brown defeated two-term Republican incumbent Mike DeWine in the 2006 Senate election and was reelected both in 2012, defeating state Treasurer Josh Mandel, and in 2018, defeating U.S. Representative Jim Renacci. In the Senate, he was chair of the Agriculture Subcommittee on Hunger, Nutrition and Family Farms and the Banking Subcommittee on Economic Policy, and is also a member of the Committee on Finance, the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and Select Committee on Ethics. At the start of the 114th Congress in January 2015, Brown became the Ranking Democratic Member on the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.[2] He was later appointed co-chair of the newly formed Joint Multiemployer Pension Solvency Committee in March 2018.[3]

Early life, education, and academic career

Brown was born in Mansfield, Ohio, the son of Emily (née Campbell) and Charles Gailey Brown, M.D.[4] He has Scottish, Irish, German, and English ancestry, and was named after his maternal grandfather.[4] He became an Eagle Scout in 1967. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Russian studies from Yale University in 1974. At Yale, he lived in Davenport College. While in college, Brown campaigned for liberal politicians such as George McGovern.[5] He went on to receive a Master of Arts degree in education and a Master of Public Administration degree from Ohio State University at Columbus in 1979 and 1981, respectively. He taught at the Mansfield branch campus of Ohio State University from 1979 to 1981.[6] He backpacked in India during the state of emergency imposed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.[7]

Early political career

During his senior year in college, Brown was recruited by a local Democratic leader to run for Ohio's state house.[5] Brown served as a state representative in Ohio from 1974 to 1982. At the time of his election to the Ohio House, he was the youngest person elected to that body.[8] In 1982, Brown ran for Ohio Secretary of State to succeed Anthony J. Celebrezze Jr. Brown won a four-way Democratic primary that included Dennis Kucinich, then defeated Republican Virgil Brown in the general election. In 1986, Brown was reelected, defeating Vincent C. Campanella. As Secretary of State, Brown focused on voter registration outreach.[5] In 1990, he lost reelection in a heated campaign against Republican Bob Taft.[5]

U.S. House of Representatives

1993 elections

Congressman Brown in 1993
Brown's signature on an official document from his office as Secretary of State of Ohio, 1990.

In 1992, Brown moved from Mansfield to Lorain, Ohio, and won a heavily contested Democratic primary for the open seat for Ohio's 13th district, in the western and southern suburbs of Cleveland, after eight-term incumbent Don Pease announced his retirement. The Democratic-leaning district gave him an easy win over the little-known Republican Margaret R. Mueller. He was reelected six times.[9]


The Democrats lost their long-held House majority in the 1994 elections, and stayed in the minority for the remainder of Brown's tenure. As ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee, Brown successfully advocated for increased funding to fight tuberculosis.[5]

Sherrod Brown in 2004

In 2005, Brown led the Democratic effort to block the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). For many months, Brown worked as whip on the issue, securing Democratic "nay" votes and seeking Republican allies. After several delays, the House of Representatives finally voted on CAFTA after midnight on July 28, 2005, which ended in passage by one vote.[10]

Brown opposed an amendment to Ohio's constitution that banned same-sex marriage.[11] He was also one of the few U.S. Representatives to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.[12]

Committee assignments

Brown was the ranking minority member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Health Subcommittee. He also served on the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet and the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection. While serving on the House International Relations Committee, he was also a member of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.[13]

U.S. Senate

Brown was elected to the US Senate in 2006, defeating Mike DeWine. One of Bernie Sanders's closest allies in the U.S. Senate, Brown nevertheless endorsed Hillary Clinton and campaigned for her in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary in Ohio.[14] He was vetted as a potential vice-presidential running mate for Clinton. The choice came down to Brown and Tim Kaine, who was ultimately selected.[15] Brown had the distinct disadvantage that had Clinton won, Ohio's Republican Governor John Kasich would have chosen Brown's replacement in the Senate, whereas Kaine's replacement would be chosen by Democrat and Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe.[16]Washington Monthly suggested that as a presidential candidate in 2020, Brown could unite the establishment and progressive wings of the Democratic Party.[17]

On November 12, 2018, reported that Brown is "seriously" considering a presidential run.[18]

A staunch critic of free trade who has taken progressive stances on financial issues, Brown has said that the Democratic Party should place stronger emphasis on progressive populism.[19]

Political positions

In 2011, in the National Journal's annual rankings, Brown tied with eight other members for the title of the most liberal member of Congress.[20]

In a 2017 issue of Dissent, Michael Kazin introduced an interview with Brown by praising him as "a politician ahead of his time" and "perhaps the most class-conscious Democrat in Washington." Brown told Kazin that many Ohioans think "that people on the coasts look down on them" and blamed this notion on Fox News and the Wall Street Journal.[21]

Foreign policy

Brown speaks at the kickoff breakfast for Lorain International Festival

Brown opposed the Iraq War and voted against the Iraq Resolution as a House Representative.[22] He voted against the $87 billion war budgetary supplement. He also voted for redeploying US troops out of Iraq by March 2008.[23]

Brown voted for the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2008, which appropriated $250 billion for ongoing military operations and domestic programs.[24]

In 2012, he co-sponsored a resolution to "oppose any policy that would rely on containment as an option in response to the Iranian nuclear threat."[25] In 2015, Brown co-sponsored an amendment to the budget that was unanimously approved by the Senate and that would reimpose sanctions on Iran if Iran violated the terms of the interim or final agreement by advancing its nuclear program.[26]

Brown was an original co-sponsor of the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances in regards to United States-Taiwan relations.[27]

Weeks after the 2014 Hong Kong class boycott campaign and Umbrella Movement broke out which demanded genuine universal suffrage among other goals, Brown (the chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China), along with co-chair U.S. Rep. Chris Smith and U.S. Senators Ben Cardin, Marco Rubio, Roger Wicker, Dianne Feinstein, and Jeff Merkley, and U.S. Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Dan Lipinski and Frank Wolf, introduced the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which would update the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992 and U.S. commitment to democratic development in Hong Kong.[28]

In 2017, Brown criticized U.S. support for Saudi Arabia's military campaign in Yemen, saying "It's becoming increasingly clear that Saudi Arabia has been deliberately targeting civilian targets. And that's absolutely unacceptable..."[29]


Brown voted in favor of the 2012 NDAA that sparked controversy over indefinite detention of US citizens.[30]

In December 2015, Brown co-sponsored a bill in Congress that would restrict ISIS's financing by authorizing new sanctions on foreign financial institutions that knowingly facilitate financial transactions with ISIS. The bill called for tightening international passport regulations and additional screening of persons attempting to enter the U.S. on certain types of visas. The bill would also provide grants to local law enforcement agencies to train for active shooter situations and terrorist attacks and to conduct cyber-training to identify and track extremists such as the couple behind the 2015 San Bernardino attack. Brown also called for banning those on the no fly list from purchasing assault weapons.[31][32][33]


Brown's opposition to the 2017 tax bill led to what was described as a "shouting match" with Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, who accused Brown of "spouting off" to the effect that the tax bill benefited the rich.[34]

In March 2018, Vice President Mike Pence criticized Brown for his recent vote against the Republican tax bill (TCJA).[34] Brown had argued the bill overwhelmingly benefited wealthy individuals and corporations with a much smaller impact to the middle class.[35]


Ohio Wing Civil Air Patrol delegation with Brown in 2012

In 2014, Brown introduced the Gold Star Fathers Act of 2014 (S. 2323; 113th Congress), a bill that would expand preferred eligibility for federal jobs to the fathers of certain permanently disabled or deceased veterans.[36] Brown said that "when a service member is killed in action or permanently and totally disabled, the government should do its part to be there for grieving parents - no matter if they're fathers or mothers."[37]

In 2015, Brown and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (Ohio) introduced legislation that would give military veterans priority in scheduling classes in colleges, universities, and other post-secondary education programs.[38]

Energy and environment

In 2012, Brown co-sponsored the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act,[39] a bill that would prohibit the export of some electronics for environmental reasons.[40]

Gun rights

Brown consistently votes in favor of gun control, which has earned him a "F" rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA).[41] He has criticized the political influence of gun manufacturers.[42]

Brown called the Republican legislature in Ohio "lunatics" for introducing a concealed carry bill that would allow individuals to carry guns into airplane terminals (before security), police buildings, private airplanes, and day care facilities.[43]

In the wake of the Orlando nightclub shooting, Brown participated in the Chris Murphy gun control filibuster.[44] A few weeks later, Brown voted for the Feinstein Amendment, which would have barred any individual on the terrorist watchlist from buying a gun.[45]

In response to the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, Brown supported Dianne Feinstein's effort to ban bump stocks.[46]

Banking and finance industry

In February 2013, conservative commentator George F. Will wrote in support of Brown's proposal to break up consolidated banks and finance industry conglomerates by restoring the Glass-Steagall Act.[47]

In 2016, after the leak of the Panama Papers, Brown and Elizabeth Warren urged the Treasury Department to investigate whether U.S. individuals were involved in possible tax avoidance and misconduct associated with the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca.[48]

Stimulus spending

In 2009, Brown voted for the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. He cast the 60th and final vote upon returning to Washington D.C. after his mother's funeral service.[49]

Flint water crisis

In the wake of the Flint water crisis, Brown introduced legislation that would force the federal government to step in when cities and states fail to warn residents about lead-contaminated drinking water and to give Ohio's school districts money to test it.[50][51]

Health care

Brown supported the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, voting for it in December 2009,[52] and he voted for the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.[53]

LGBT rights

Brown voted against prohibiting same-sex couples from adopting children in Washington D.C. He received a 100% score from the Human Rights Campaign in 2005-2006, indicating a pro-gay rights stance.[54] On December 18, 2010, he voted in favor of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010.[55]


Brown speaks at 2014 Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C

In 2015, Brown introduced the Charter School Accountability Act of 2015, which would seek to curb "fraud, abuse, waste, mismanagement and misconduct" in charter schools.[56]

Brown praised West Virginia teachers who held a nine-day strike in early 2018. "When this society fails to pay its teachers a living wage, it's pretty shameful," he said. "Those teachers engaged the public to put pressure on a Republican legislature that historically underfunds education and they got the legislature to finally do the right thing. So I was proud of those teachers for standing up." He also praised other recent activist demonstrations, such as the anti-gun protests by Parkland High School students in Florida and the Women's March after President Trump's inauguration. "That's what makes our country great -- when people stand up and push back when they're mistreated," he said.[57]

Intellectual property

Brown was a cosponsor of the Protect-IP Act (PIPA).[58]


Brown talks about Making America Competitive Again and Restoring U.S. Innovation Leadership

Brown has criticized free trade with China and other countries. In a 2006 Washington Post article, Brown argued against free trade on the grounds that labor activism was responsible for the growth of the U.S. middle class, and that the U.S. economy is harmed by trade relations with countries that lack the kind of labor regulations that have resulted from that activism.[59]

In 2011, the Columbus Dispatch noted that Brown "loves to rail against international trade agreements."[60] Brown's book, Myths of Free Trade, argues that "an unregulated global economy is a threat to all of us."[61] In his book, he recommends adopting measures that would allow for emergency tariffs, protect Buy America laws, including those that give preference to minority and women-owned businesses, and hold foreign producers to American labor and environmental standards.[62] Brown was the co-author and sponsor of a bill that would officially declare China a currency manipulator and require the Department of Commerce to impose countervailing duties on Chinese imports.[63]

Brown speaks at 2008 Labor Day Festival

In May 2016, Brown called for tariffs to be imposed on imports from China and praised Hillary Clinton's plan to enforce rules and trade laws and triple the enforcement budgets at the United States Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission.[64]

Brown opposes NAFTA.[65]

In January 2018, Brown expressed support for President Trump's decision to impose tariffs on washing machine imports.[66]


In 2012, Brown wrote a letter to the United States Department of Defense requesting that it comply with a rule requiring members of the military to wear clothes made in the U.S.[67]

In a 2016 CNN interview, Brown criticized Donald Trump for making "a lot of money apparently by outsourcing jobs to China."[64]


Sherrod Brown at a campaign rally
Brown hosts a panel of advisers to Barack Obama's presidential campaign during the first day of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado

In August 2005, Brown announced he would not run for the United States Senate seat held by Republican Mike DeWine.[68] In October, however, Brown reconsidered his decision.[69] His announcement came shortly after Democrat Paul Hackett stated that he would soon announce his candidacy.

On February 13, 2006, Hackett withdrew from the race, all but ensuring that Brown would win the Democratic nomination. In the May 2 primary, Brown won 78.05% of the Democratic vote. His opponent, Merrill Samuel Keiser Jr., received 21.95% of the vote.[70]

In the middle of his Senate campaign in April 2006, Brown, along with John Conyers, brought an action against George W. Bush and others, alleging violations of the Constitution in the passage of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.[71] The case, Conyers v. Bush, was ultimately dismissed for lack of standing.[72]

On November 7, 2006, Brown faced two-term incumbent senator Mike DeWine in the general election. Brown won the seat with 56% of the vote to DeWine's 44%.[73]


Brown stood for reelection in 2012, defeating opponent Josh Mandel, who in 2010 had defeated the incumbent state treasurer by 14 points. Mandel raised $2.3 million in the second quarter of 2011 alone, to Brown's $1.5 million.[74] Early on, Brown enjoyed a steady lead in the polls.[75] Mandel won the March Republican primary with 63% of the vote.[76]

The Washington Post reported that no candidate running for reelection, save Barack Obama, faced more opposition in 2012 by outside groups. As of April 2012, over $5.1 million had been spent on television ads opposing Brown, according to data provided by a Senate Democratic campaign operative. The United States Chamber of Commerce spent $2.7 million. 60 Plus Association, a conservative group that opposes health care reform, spent another $1.4 million. Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS and the Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee also spent heavily in the race.[77] In May 2012, Brown campaigned with West Wing actor Martin Sheen.[78]

On November 6, 2012, Brown held his seat, getting 50.7% of the vote to Mandel's 44.7%. Independent candidate Scott Rupert got 4.6% of the vote.

Committee assignments (115th Congress)

Personal life

Brown's second wife, Connie Schultz, was a newspaper columnist at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, but resigned because being a politician's spouse presented a conflict of interest.[83] She won a Pulitzer Prize in 2005.[84] She is also the author of Life Happens (2007) and ...and His Lovely Wife (2008), in which she describes her experiences as the spouse of a U.S. Senate candidate.[85] Brown was previously married to Larke Recchie from 1979 to 1987. He is the father of four children, two from each marriage. He has five grandchildren.[86]

On May 5, 2007, Brown was awarded an honorary doctorate from Capital University.[87]

On May 18, 2014, Brown was awarded an honorary doctor of public service degree from Otterbein University. Along with his wife, Brown delivered a keynote address at the undergraduate commencement.[88]

Books authored

Brown is the author of two books:

  • Congress from the Inside: Observations from the Majority and the Minority ISBN 0-87338-630-2
  • Myths of Free Trade: Why American Trade Policy Has Failed ISBN 1-56584-928-0

Electoral history

Ohio Secretary of State Democratic primary election, 1982
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Sherrod Brown 304,952 34
Democratic Dennis Kucinich 246,618 27
Democratic Anthony Calabrese 214,901 24
Democratic Francis Gaul 136,568 15
Ohio Secretary of State election, 1982
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Sherrod Brown 1,739,602 54
Republican Virgil Brown 1,362,079 42
Libertarian Margaret Ann Leech 143,943 4
Ohio Secretary of State election, 1986
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Sherrod Brown (inc.) 1,805,833 60
Republican Vincent Campanella 1,217,803 40
Ohio Secretary of State election, 1990
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Bob Taft 1,809,416 53
Democratic Sherrod Brown (inc.) 1,604,058 47
Ohio's 13th congressional district, 1992[89]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Sherrod Brown 134,486 53
Republican Margaret R. Mueller 88,889 35
Independent Mark Miller 20,320 8
Independent Tom Lawson 4,719 2
Independent Werner J. Lange 3,844 2
Ohio's 13th congressional district, 1994[89]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Sherrod Brown 93,147 49
Republican Gregory A. White 86,422 46
Independent Howard Mason 7,777 4
Independent John M. Ryan 2,430 1
Ohio's 13th congressional district, 1996[89]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Sherrod Brown 148,690 61
Republican Kenneth C. Blair, Jr. 87,108 36
Natural Law David Kluter 8,707 4
Ohio's 13th congressional district, 1998[89]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Sherrod Brown 116,309 62
Republican Grace L. Drake 72,666 38
Ohio's 13th congressional district, 2000[89]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Sherrod Brown 170,058 65
Republican Rick H. Jeric 84,295 32
Libertarian Michael Chmura 5,837 2
Natural Law David Kluter 3,108 1
Ohio's 13th congressional district, 2002[89]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Sherrod Brown 123,025 69
Republican Ed Oliveros 55,357 31
Ohio's 13th congressional district, 2004[89]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Sherrod Brown 201,004 67
Republican Robert Lucas 97,090 33
U.S. Senate Democratic primary election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Sherrod Brown 583,776 78
Democratic Merrill Samuel Keiser, Jr. 163,628 22
U.S. Senate (Class I) elections in Ohio, 2006[89]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Sherrod Brown 2,257,369 56
Republican Mike DeWine 1,761,037 44
Independent Richard Duncan (write-in) 830 0
U.S. Senate (Class I) elections in Ohio, 2012[89]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Sherrod Brown 2,762,757 51
Republican Josh Mandel 2,435,740 45
Independent Scott Rupert 250,617 4
U.S. Senate (Class I) elections in Ohio, 2018
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Sherrod Brown 2,286,730 53
Republican Jim Renacci 2,011,832 47

See also


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    H.Con.Res.53 - Concerning the Taiwan Relations Act.,, November 3, 1999
    H.Con.Res.117 - Expressing the sense of Congress that the United States Government should reaffirm its unwavering commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act as the cornerstone of United States relations with Taiwan, and for other purposes.,, March 25, 2003
    S.Con.Res.38 - A concurrent resolution reaffirming the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances as cornerstones of United States-Taiwan relations.,, May 19, 2016
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    S.2922 - Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act,, November 13, 2014
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    "A Useful Hong Kong Rebuke: China's betrayal of its promises becomes a U.S. political issue". The Wall Street Journal. January 30, 2015. Retrieved 2016.
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  30. ^ "HR 1540 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 - Voting Record". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 2012.
  31. ^ "Sen. Sherrod Brown outlines bill aimed at stopping terrorism". NBC news. January 8, 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  32. ^ "U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown tackles ISIS, gun laws". ABC news. January 8, 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  33. ^ "S.2377 - Defeat ISIS and Protect and Secure the United States Act of 2015". Retrieved 2018.
  34. ^ a b SIEGEL, BENJAMIN; KELSEY, ADAM. "House Republicans pass tax plan that would cut corporate rate, add $1.4 trillion to deficit". ABC News. Retrieved 2018.
  35. ^ KOFF, STEPHEN. "Sen. Sherrod Brown's "no" vote on tax cuts will stand out as Vice President Mike Pence comes to town. Will it hurt him?". Retrieved 2018.
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  40. ^ Toto, Deanne (April 11, 2012). "A Contentious Issue". Recycling Today. Retrieved 2018.
  41. ^ "Ask Sherrod Brown: Why Does He Oppose Your Freedoms?". NRA-ILA. Retrieved 2017.
  42. ^ Pierce, Charles P. (June 21, 2016). "The Sheer Number of Guns in America Will Kill Us With or Without Terrorists". Esquire. Retrieved 2017.
  43. ^ Shesgreen, Deidre. "Brown: Ohio concealed-carry bill work of 'lunatics'". Retrieved 2017.
  44. ^ Mathis-Lilley, Ben; Hannon, Elliot (June 15, 2016). "Senate Democrats' Surprise Gun-Control Filibuster Ended at 2:11 a.m." Slate. Retrieved 2017.
  45. ^ Everhart, Michelle. "Ohio Politics Now: How Sen. Rob Portman, Sen. Sherrod Brown voted on gun control measures". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved 2017.
  46. ^ Koff, Stephen. "Sen. Sherrod Brown backs 'bump stock' gun-control bill, while Sen. Rob Portman says he'll review it". Retrieved 2017.
  47. ^ "Time to break up the big banks" Archived July 29, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. George F. Will, Washington Post, February 8, 2013
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  51. ^ Michael Wines & John Schwartz, Unsafe Lead Levels in Tap Water Not Limited to Flint, New York Times, February 8, 2016
    Jo Ingles, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown Wants Water Tested In Ohio's Schools, Statehouse News Bureau, May 3, 2016
  52. ^ "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote". Retrieved 2012.
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    "Senate Vote 281 - Repeals 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'". The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 27, 2015.
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