|Birth Day:||May 17, 1941|
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He grew up in rural McCook, in southwest Nebraska.
Earl Benjamin Nelson was born on May 17, 1941 in McCook, in southwestern Nebraska. He is the only child of Birdella and Benjamin Earl Nelson. He earned a B.A. in 1963, an M.A. in 1965, and a J.D. in 1970—all from the University of Nebraska.
After graduating from law school, Nelson landed a job as assistant general counsel for Central National Insurance Group of Omaha. After several years in the business, in 1975 the governor appointed him state insurance director. After the administration changed, he returned to work for Central National Insurance as an executive vice president and eventually president.
Nelson defeated Ricketts 64%-36%, the biggest victory margin for a Democratic Senate candidate in Nebraska since Edward Zorinsky won 66% of the vote in 1982. In doing so, he received the votes of 42% of Republicans and 73% of Independents on top of 96% of those from his own party. He also won all but 13 counties in the western part of the state, a surprising feat in normally heavily Republican Nebraska.
Nelson became involved in state politics, joining the Democratic Party. In 1986, he served as state chairman of Democrat Helen Boosalis's gubernatorial campaign. She was mayor of Lincoln, Nebraska. Boosalis was defeated by state treasurer Republican Kay Orr, 53% to 47%.
Nelson first ran for electoral office in the 1990 Nebraska gubernatorial election, defeating first-term Republican incumbent Kay Orr by 4,030 votes out of over 586,000 cast. He was reelected in 1994 with 74% of the vote, the largest margin of victory for a governor in half a century, despite the national Republican gains that year.
During the 1990 campaign, Nelson attacked Orr's support for a proposed low-level nuclear waste dump in the state. During his tenure, the Nebraska State Department of Environmental Quality denied the dump's application for an operating license, prompting a lawsuit that Nebraska settled for $145 million.
Nelson ran for a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1996 when fellow Democrat Jim Exon retired. He was defeated by Republican businessman and Vietnam veteran Chuck Hagel in an upset.
In 1996, Nelson proposed and supported legislation to prevent Nebraska from recognizing same-sex marriages formed in other states. This was his response to a court case in Hawaii that Nelson feared would legalize gay marriage.
In 1998, Nelson was ineligible to run for reelection because of Nebraska's term-limits law. He was succeeded as governor by Mike Johanns, the Republican mayor of Lincoln. To date, he is the last Democrat to serve as governor of Nebraska.
Nelson was nominated by the Democrats for the Senate in the 2000 election after his fellow Democrat, incumbent Bob Kerrey, announced his retirement. His opponent was Attorney General Don Stenberg. Nelson won the election with 50.99% of the vote after a campaign in which he spent 50% more ($1,004,985) than Stenberg. Despite initially pledging to work together, Nelson and fellow U.S. Senator from Nebraska Chuck Hagel had a somewhat frosty relationship.
Nelson was one of five Democratic senators to vote for the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001. The measure called for $1.35 trillion in tax cuts over 11 years and nearly $2 trillion in spending for the next fiscal year. The spending was close to that proposed by Bush; the tax cuts were slightly less than the $1.6 trillion Bush sought. Nelson also voted for passage of the 2003 tax cut which accelerated many of the provisions in the 2001 tax cut in addition to benefits for small businesses.
Nelson was one of only two Democratic senators to vote against the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. He voted with Republicans on bankruptcy reform, environmental protection, class action lawsuits, and trade. In 2004 he was one of only three Democratic senators to vote to invoke cloture on the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment; in 2006 he was one of only two Democratic senators to vote that way. He was the only Democratic senator to vote against a 2006 bill that would have extended federal funding for Stem Cell Research. But he consistently voted against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He also opposed Bush's plan to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq. Early in Bush's first term he voted with the majority of his party against scrapping President Bill Clinton's expansive new rules on ergonomics regulation for workers; many of his fellow conservative Democrats like John Breaux, Max Baucus, Blanche Lincoln, and Zell Miller voted with Republicans on the issue. On April 26, 2010, Nelson was one of two Democratic senators in attendance to vote against the motion to move a financial regulations bill forward, siding with Senate Republicans. The other was Harry Reid, who voted against his own proposed bill out of procedure.
Nelson was the lead Democratic senator among the "Gang of 14," a bloc of 14 senators who, on May 23, 2005, forged a compromise on the Democrats' use of the judicial filibuster, thus blocking the Republican leadership's attempt to implement the so-called "nuclear option". Under the gang's agreement, Democrats would retain the power to filibuster one of Bush's judicial nominees only in an "extraordinary circumstance", and the three most conservative Bush appellate court nominees (Janice Rogers Brown, Priscilla Owen and William Pryor) would receive a vote by the full Senate. Nelson was the only Democrat to vote to confirm Brown; he was later the first Democratic senator to support Samuel Alito's confirmation to the Supreme Court of the United States. Nelson also voted twice, with three other Democrats, to end Senate debate over Bush's United Nations Ambassador nominee John Bolton.
Nelson was thought to be in danger of losing his seat in 2006, as it was thought his successor as governor, Mike Johanns, was almost certain to run against him; that speculation ended when Johanns was appointed U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. With Johanns's move to Washington, few high-profile Republicans stepped up to run against Nelson, as the state party focused its attention on the governor's race. The Republican nomination was won by Pete Ricketts, a former TD Ameritrade executive.
Nelson is anti-abortion. In the 2006 election, he was endorsed by Nebraska Right to Life and Nebraskans United for Life. Nelson expressed strong support for the Stupak-Pitts Amendment to the House of Representatives' 2009 Affordable Health Care for America Act, which placed limits on taxpayer-funded abortions. But he lost Nebraska Right to Life's support after he voting for the Senate version of health-care legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which did not contain the Stupak language.
In July 2007, Senator Tom Coburn criticized earmarks that Nelson had inserted into the 2007 defense spending bill, alleging that they would benefit Nelson's son Patrick's employer with millions in federal dollars, and that the situation violated terms of the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, which the Senate passed but had not yet been voted on in the House. Nelson's spokesperson said he did nothing wrong and was acting with "an abundance of caution" when he withdrew the amendment after the new Senate Ethics Rules were passed. Some government watchdogs, including Public Citizen, commented that the earmark probably didn't violate ethics rules. More than one publication questioned Coburn's motives, as his criticism did not include his own state delegation's earmark requests.
On March 15, 2007, Nelson was one of two Democratic senators to vote against invoking cloture on a resolution aimed at withdrawing most American combat troops from Iraq in 2008. The vote, requiring 60 votes to pass, was 50 to 48 against.
As a result of traveling to Iraq four times, the last in September 2007, Nelson took the position that a transition of the mission in Iraq was necessary, as opposed to full withdrawal of troops. The Jones Commission supported his view on September 6, 2007, when General James L. Jones presented a report to Congress claiming that "The circumstances of the moment may continue to present the opportunity for considering a shift in the disposition and employment of our forces... such a strategy would include placing increasing responsibilities for the internal security of the nation on the ISF, especially in urban areas. Coalition forces could be re-tasked to better ensure the territorial defense of the state by increasingly concentrating on the eastern and western borders and the active defense of the critical infrastructures essential to Iraq." The premise that stability in Iraq would only be achieved through political reconciliation acted on through legislation, a view long held by Nelson, was also recommended by Jones, reporting, "The future of Iraq… hinges on the ability of the Iraqi people and the government to begin the process of achieving national reconciliation and to ending sectarian violence."
Nelson and Collins also introduced legislation on July 11, 2007, that would transition U.S. troops out of Baghdad. The legislation called for turning over internal security efforts to Iraqi forces after which the U.S. military would secure the borders, protect the infrastructure, and continue to search for al-Qaeda forces.
In late 2009, the Senate's 40 Republicans unanimously opposed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Senate's version of health-care legislation. To end a Republican filibuster and pass the measure, the Democrats needed the votes of all 58 of their senators, plus those of two independents who caucused with their party. Nelson was the 60th and last senator to vote for cloture.
In October 2009, Americans for Tax Reform stated that Nelson was the only Democratic senator who had signed its Taxpayer Protection Pledge, and launched an advocacy campaign to urge him to oppose the health care reform proposals in Congress, which, they asserted, contained "billions of dollars in income tax hikes."
Anti-abortion organizations also responded negatively to Nelson's vote. In April 2010, Nebraska Right to Life declared that it would never again endorse Nelson.
On August 5, 2010, Nelson was the only Democrat to vote against Elena Kagan's confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court.
On December 18, 2010, Nelson voted with Democrats for the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010.
In July 2012, Nelson, with 18 other senators, cosponsored a bill that would allow states to collect sales taxes on interstate sales, including catalogue and Internet sales. The bill (Marketplace Fairness Act, S.1832) would require any seller who sold a product or service to a consumer from another state to calculate, collect and pay to that other state the sales tax based on that state's tax rates. Proponents argued that the measure would redress an unfair economic advantage enjoyed by online sellers over local businesses arising from the fact that the former were often not required to collect sales taxes from their customers. Opponents maintained that it would be unfair to require interstate merchants to collect sales taxes in jurisdictions where they had no physical presence, and thus derived no benefit from the taxes; and that the variety and complexity of state and local sales taxes would place a burden on merchants required to keep track of them in order to collect the taxes.
In January 2013, Nelson was named chief executive officer of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, an organization of state insurance regulatory agencies for the United States and several of its territories. The body establishes standards and coordinates regulatory oversight for the state agencies. He left the association and returned to his private law practice in January 2016.
Ben has four children with his wife Diane.
Currently, Ben Nelson is 81 years, 8 months and 21 days old. Ben Nelson will celebrate 82nd birthday on a Wednesday 17th of May 2023. Below we countdown to Ben Nelson upcoming birthday.