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Russ Feingold

Russ Feingold is a member of the Democratic Party who has served in the United States Senate for the state of Wisconsin since 1992. He finished Harvard University Law School in 1979 and then worked as an attorney at law until 1985 when he started working for the Senate.

Feingold's senatorial career began in 1992 with a surprising victory over Republican incumbent Robert Kasten. Feingold won the Democratic senate primary against two formidable opponents, then produced several offbeat political ads emphasizing Kasten's lack of availability to the people of Wisconsin during the general election. The nation was stunned by Feingold's victory, won on a pittance of campaign money. Kasten was as well; he broke into tears in his concession speech. Feingold, meanwhile, celebrated his victory in a high school gymnasium.

Senator Feingold is perhaps best known for his work alongside Senator John McCain on the campaign finance reform law, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, known as the McCain-Feingold bill. He also supports issues such as health care reform, gay rights, education, AIDS prevention, environmentalism, a stronger foreign policy, senior citizens' issues, preserving Social Security, energy conservation, and abolishing the death penalty. Senator Feingold was the only senator to vote against the USA PATRIOT Act which he believes severely and unnecessarily limits Americans' civil rights.

He also voted against the Defense of Marriage Act which ultimately passed and which withholds marital rights from new residents who relocated from a state where same-sex marriages are allowed and has spoken out against the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment. In a prepared statement, he recognized victims and surviving partners of victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks who were in the audience and stated:

"I do not believe that Congress should spend time on an issue that should be left to the states and religious institutions... Representative Musgrave has introduced a marriage amendment to the Constitution... [I]f a similar resolution is introduced and considered in the Senate, I would oppose it. I do not believe that Congress should amend the Constitution on this issue... A state should be able to grant rights or protections to same-sex couples if it wants to, and the federal government should not interfere with that decision. For example, over 170 state and local governments extend health benefits to the same-sex partners of their public employees. But if the House marriage amendment is ratified, same-sex couples could be denied such rights and protections."

While the Supreme Court holds special hearings on the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, the Senator has recently turned his attention to another issue which he had previously fought against.[1] Feingold, who has contested congressional pay raises in the past, has promised to fight House Resolution 2989 when it reaches the Senate floor.[1] The law in question, which was approved by a 240-173 vote on September 11, 2003, the second anniversary of the terrorist attacks, would raise Congressional salaries by 2.2 percent, to approximately $158,000 in 2004.

Senator Feingold regularly holds "listening sessions" in all 72 Wisconsin counties to listen to his constituents' concerns.

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