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Biography of U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama
Jeff Sessions was born in Selma, Alabama on December 24, 1946, and grew up in Hybart (pronounced Hib-ert), the son of a country store owner. Growing up in the country, Sessions was instilled with the core values – honesty, hard work, belief in God and parental respect – that define him today. In 1964, he became an Eagle Scout and has received the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award. After attending school in nearby Camden, Sessions worked his way through Huntingdon College in Montgomery, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1969. He received a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Alabama in 1973. Sessions served in the United States Army Reserve from 1973 to1986 ultimately attaining the rank of Captain. He still considers that period to be one of the most rewarding chapters of his life.
Sessions’ interest in the law led to a distinguished legal career, first as a practicing attorney in Russellville, Alabama, and then in Mobile, a place he now calls home. Following a two-year stint as Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama (1975-1977), Sessions was nominated by President Reagan in 1981 and confirmed by the Senate to serve as the United States Attorney for Alabama’s Southern District, a position he held for 12 years. Sessions was elected Alabama Attorney General in 1995, serving as the state’s chief legal officer until 1997, when he entered the United States Senate.
As a United States Senator, Sessions has focused his energies on maintaining a strong military, upholding the rule of law, limiting the role of government, and providing tax relief to stimulate economic growth and empowering Americans to keep more of their hard-earned money.
Dubbed a “budget hawk” by the Alabama press, Sen. Sessions was selected to serve as the Ranking Member on the Senate Budget Committee to restrain the growth of federal spending and make permanent tax cuts that benefit American families. As a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sessions is a leading advocate of confirming federal judges who follow the law and do not legislate from the bench. He serves as Ranking Member of the Judiciary Administrative Oversight and the Courts Subcommittee. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sessions is a strong advocate for America’s military, including the four major defense installations in Alabama – Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville; Fort Rucker, near Ozark; Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery; and the Anniston Army Depot. Sessions was recently appointed to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. His membership on the EPW Committee will give him the opportunity to develop policies that promote reliable and affordable energy sources and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
A strong environmentalist and Ranking Member of the Water and Wildlife Subcommittee, Sessions was responsible for legislation that created the newest addition to the National Wildlife Refuge system, the Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge near Anniston. He authored legislation that extended wilderness protection for Dugger Mountain in the Talladega National Forest, and the White House, upon Sessions’ recommendation, formed a high-level working group to assess mercury pollution in the Gulf of Mexico.
Senator Sessions authored the Honoring Every Requirement of Exemplary Service (HEROES) Act, which was signed into law in May 2005. This legislation increased the payment received by the families of fallen combat soldiers from $12,000 to $100,000 and also increased the maximum servicemen’s life insurance benefit from $250,000 to $400,000.
Sessions played a leading role in ensuring that the Medicare Prescription Drug law included a rural health care component that reduced the disparity in Medicare payments that has devastated Alabama hospitals. As a result, Medicare payments to Alabama hospitals will increase by nearly $1 billion over a 10-year period. Sessions authored a key provision in the 2001 tax cut bill to make interest earned on tuition savings and prepaid tuition plans tax free. That provision will mean a big financial boost for families of the 50,000 Alabama children enrolled in the affordable Alabama Prepaid College Tuition Plan.
Senator Sessions joined in leading efforts to make funding more equal in the Ryan White CARE Act. The South has been hardest hit with HIV/AIDS in recent years, but the funding formula kept most of the money going to big cities. The new legislation will bring much-needed funding to Alabama, making health care available for low-income Alabamians living with HIV/AIDS.
Continuing his interest in fighting crime, Sessions was the author of the Paul Coverdell National Forensic Sciences Improvement Law of 2000, which authorized badly needed funds for state and local crime labs to reduce the backlog of ballistics, blood, and DNA tests
To help make America more energy secure, Senator Sessions worked closely with his Gulf state colleagues to open 8.3 million acres of land in the Gulf of Mexico to new energy exploration, the first such expansion in decades. The newly opened tract of land, which is 125 miles off the coast, contains an estimated 1.3 billion barrels of oil and 6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The law also included a provision to share tens-of-millions of federal revenue dollars each year with Alabama to fund environmental restoration and coastal infrastructure projects.
While serving in the United States Senate, Sessions has received numerous awards including: the Reserve Officers Association Minuteman of the Year Award, the National Taxpayers Union Friend of the Taxpayer Award, the Watchdogs of the Treasury Golden Bulldog Award, the National Federation of Independent Business Guardian of Small Business Award, the Coalition of Republican Environment Advocates Teddy Roosevelt Environmental Award and the Alabama Farmers Federation Service to Agriculture Award.
In 2008, the people of Alabama overwhelmingly voted to return Sessions to the Senate for the third time to another six-year term, casting more votes for Sessions than any Republican in Alabama history.
He keeps close tabs on the concerns of his Alabama constituents, holding town meetings and traveling to all 67 counties in the state each year.
Sessions has served as a lay leader and as a Sunday school teacher at his family’s church, Ashland Place United Methodist Church, in Mobile. He served as the Chairman of his church’s Administrative Board and has been selected as a delegate to the annual Alabama Methodist Conference.
Sessions and his wife, Mary Blackshear Sessions, originally of Gadsden, Alabama, have three children, Mary Abigail Reinhardt, Ruth Sessions Walk, and Sam. They have five granddaughters, Jane Ritchie, Alexa, Gracie, Sophia, and Hannah, and a grandson, Jim Beau. Introducing U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions at an event, and looking for information? click here