United States Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) is leading a delegation to Chile March 16-19 on a visit that will include stops throughout South America. Senator Harkin is Chairman of the Senate Health, Education Labor & Pension (HELP) Committee.
The delegation also includes Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Bernard Sanders (I-VT); Representatives George Miller (D-11th/CA) and Jared Huffman (D-2nd/CA); and Representative Rush Holt (D-12th/NJ).
During the visit, Senator Harkin and Representative Miller were presented the Order of Bernardo O’Higgins Award by Foreign Minister Heraldo Muñoz. The award is the highest civilian honor awarded to non-Chileans. Senator Harkin is being recognized for his humanitarian work.
He also returned to the former site of Villa Grimaldi, a detention center used by the military junta, now a peace park, that he helped to uncover in 1976 as a junior Member of Congress. He also visited the Museum of Memory and Human Rights.
Senator Tom Harkin was born in Cumming, Iowa on November 19, 1939. He earned a degree in Government and Economics from Iowa State University and served in the Navy as a jet pilot on active duty from 1962 to 1967. In 1972 he graduated from Catholic University of America’s Law School in Washington, D.C.
In 1974, Senator Harkin was first elected to Congress from Iowa’s Fifth Congressional District. After serving 10 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, he won a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1984. In November 2008, Senator Harkin made history by becoming the first Iowa Democrat to win a fifth term in the U.S. Senate.
Senator Harkin’s signature legislative achievement, The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), protects the civil rights of millions of Americans with physical and mental disabilities and changed the landscape of the United States by requiring buildings and transportation to be wheelchair accessible, and to provide workplace accommodations for people with disabilities.
Harkin has a decades-long history of work on human rights, dating back to before he was elected to Congress.