Bio: His career in public service began in 1976 when he was elected to the first of three terms as Delaware’s state treasurer at the age of 29 at a time when the state of Delaware had the worst credit rating of any state in America. Six years later, with that credit rating restored to a respectable “AA,” he ran for – and was elected – to Delaware’s at-large seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
After serving five terms as a U.S. congressman, where he earned a reputation as a results-oriented centrist, Tom Carper was elected the 78th governor of Delaware in 1992 and served two terms in that role. As governor, he pursued a common-sense agenda that led to eight balanced budgets, tax cuts in seven of those eight years, and major increases in employment. Governor Carper led the effort to strengthen the state’s “rainy day” fund and boost Delaware’s credit rating to “AAA” for the first time in state history, while helping to overhaul the state’s education system and to implement welfare reform initiatives in Delaware and the nation.
During his second term as governor, Tom Carper was selected by his colleagues to serve as vice-chairman, then as chairman, of the National Governors’ Association (NGA). After serving as chairman, he led the NGA’s ‘Center for Best Practices,’ which focused on developing and implementing innovative solutions to policy challenges faced by governors across the nation. From 1994-1998, he served as a member of Amtrak’s board of directors and, later, as founding vice-chairman of the American Legacy Foundation to combat youth smoking and as vice-chairman of Jobs for America’s Graduates, a national non-profit to reduce high school dropouts.
On Jan. 3, 2001, Governor Carper stepped down two weeks early to become Delaware’s junior senator. He was reelected in 2006, and with his reelection in November 2012 he has been elected to state-wide public office in Delaware 13 times. When Senator Joe Biden stepped down to become vice president in January 2009, Tom Carper became Delaware’s senior senator.
Senator Carper is ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, after serving as chairman in the 113th Congress. In that capacity, he focuses on protecting our country from threats to our national security as well as ensuring federal government programs are efficient and using taxpayer dollars wisely. Additionally, he is fighting to save the U.S. Postal Service and to strengthen our nation’s cybersecurity. He also serves on the Finance Committee and Environment and Public Works Committee, where he is ranking member on the Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety.
Military Bio: Born in West Virginia and raised in Virginia, Senator Tom Carper attended The Ohio State University on a Navy R.O.T.C. scholarship, graduating in 1968 with a B.A. in economics. He went on to complete five years of service as a naval flight officer, serve three tours of duty in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, and continued to serve in the Naval Reserve as a P-3 aircraft mission commander until retiring with the rank of captain in 1991 after 23 years of military service. With the war winding down in Southeast Asia, Tom Carper moved to Delaware in 1973 where he earned his M.B.A. at the University of Delaware.
Legislation: As a veteran, I understand the sacrifices that the men and women of the Armed Forces and their families have made to defend our nation’s freedoms. I’ve been disturbed by the reports of misconduct at some of the Veterans Administration medical facilities around the country. Every veteran deserves the access to the top-quality healthcare they earned through their service.
I believe it’s important that investigations continue to examine the care that veterans are receiving in Delaware and around the country and quickly identify solutions to fix the problem where we are currently falling short of providing the timely and thorough care our veterans deserve.
Last year I voted for legislation to address the issues facing the Department of Veterans Affairs. On July 31, 2014, the Senate passed H.R. 3230, the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014, which was subsequently signed into law by President Barack Obama. This legislation greatly improves veterans’ access to health care services, particularly for those who have been waiting too long for essential care. The bill increases accountability for VA employees, while also providing the VA with the resources it needs to hire more doctors, nurses, and clinical staff to reduce wait times and maintain high-quality care at VA medical facilities across the country. Congress has sent a bill to the President that helps the Department of Veterans Affairs meet its responsibilities and, in the words of President Lincoln, ‘To care for him who shall have borne the battle.’ Congress, the President, and the leadership of the VA must continue working together to improve veterans’ access to health care and to restore both veterans’ and taxpayers’ trust in the agency. My colleagues and I are continuing to review the ongoing implementation of this law, and review where improvements are still needed.
If you are a veteran, or you know a veteran, in need of care who has had trouble making an appointment, please visit my constituent services page to find contact information for my Delaware offices.
Listening to Veterans
Every year I hold a veterans summit at the Wilmington VA with veterans, veterans service organization representatives, and our local VA staff and leadership to discuss ongoing efforts to honor, serve, and care for veterans and ensure they receive the care and benefits they deserve.
At this year’s veterans summit in March, we were fortunate to be joined by VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald. Secretary McDonald, a West Point graduate, was nominated by President Barack Obama to lead the VA at a difficult time. Recognizing Secretary McDonald’s qualifications to lead, he was confirmed by the Senate 97-0.
During his visit, Secretary McDonald shared how he was restructuring the agency, focusing on fixing its problems, and making sure our veterans are the top priority. I am proud that we had the opportunity to host the Secretary in the First State and that he was able to meet with our veterans, VA medical center staff, and students at the University of Delaware. He is committed to providing the veterans who sacrificed so much for us with the care and benefits they rightly deserve and I will continue working with my colleagues in the Senate to carry out this critical mission.
Making Veterans Employment a Top Priority
As a veteran, I know firsthand the sacrifices members of our military make by defending our nation. We have a responsibility to ensure that our returning heroes have resources and opportunities when they arrive home. That’s why, in 2012, I joined the new, bipartisan Senate Veterans Jobs Caucus, chaired by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). We formed this caucus to focus on ways to decrease the unemployment rate of our nation’s 857,000 unemployed veterans, and we have committed to:
Develop an “I Hire Veterans” Program that encourages veteran hiring within U.S. Senate offices.
Hold monthly Member or staff-level events to share information on veterans employment initiatives.
Monitor veterans employment issues by working with constituents, government and service organizations.
Work with state, local and national employers on programs to hire veterans.
I joined this caucus because I am committed to ensuring our nation’s service members are able to return to the civilian workforce and lead successful lives. As of August 2014, the number of unemployed veterans has decreased to 671,000. While we’re making progress, we still have more work to do.
As part of my goal to help our veterans find jobs, I have joined with Senator Coons and Representative Carney to host multiple jobs fairs throughout Delaware just for our veterans.
Strengthening Veterans Education Benefits
We have a moral imperative to ensure that those who have sacrificed for our country obtain the best education possible, one that will equip them with the skills they need to find a good job, repay their college loans, and go on to live productive lives. When I returned from Southeast Asia, the G.I. Bill made it possible for me to go to business school at the University of Delaware. Our vets returning home from across the world today deserve the same – if not better – opportunities than I received all those years ago. That’s why I introduced the Military and Veterans Education Protection Act of 2015. This legislation encourages all schools to provide high-quality educational opportunities to our service members and veterans, while ensuring that we get better results from taxpayer funded programs like the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.