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Chris Shays (SIADD)

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Christopher Shays
Portrait of Chris Shays
12th United States Secretary of Energy
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 23, 2009
President John McCain
Preceded by Samuel Bodman
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Connecticut's 4th district
In office
August 18, 1987 – January 3, 2009
Preceded by Stewart McKinney
Succeeded by Jim Himes
Personal details
Born May October 18, 1945 (1945-10-18) (age 71)
Dickinson, North Dakota
Nationality Flag of the United States American
Political party Republicanlogo Republican
Spouse(s) Betsi DeRaismes Shays
Children Jeramy Alice Shays
Residence Bridgeport, Connecticut
Alma mater Principia College, New York University
Occupation Politician
Religion Christian Science

Christopher H. Shays (born October 18, 1945) is an American politician and currently the 12th United States Secretary of Energy. He was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives and represented the 4th District of Connecticut.

Shays was the only Republican congressman from New England elected to the 110th United States Congress in the 2006 midterm elections. His loss to Jim Himes in the 2008 election makes New England's House delegation entirely Democratic in the 111th Congress. He was the most senior member of House of Representatives to be defeated in the 2008 election.

On November 16, 2008, President-elect John McCain announced that Shays would fill the position of Energy Secretary in his cabinet. Sharing McCain's positions on many environmental issues, including developing wind, geothermal, and bio-fuel energy, exploring for oil off the coast, and building new nuclear plants and having coauthored a bipartisan bill to improve vehicle fuel efficiency, promote renewable energy, and repeal some tax breaks for fossil-fuel industries, McCain would be praised by Democrats and some Republicans for his bipartisanship, who argued that Shays was an outstanding bipartisan figure. On January 23, Shays passed the nomination process with bipartisan support in Congress and became the 12th Energy Secretary, vowing to work with President McCain on renewable energies.

As Secretary of Energy, his major goals are to greatly reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil by increasing domestic offshore oil production, expand the development bio-fuels, wind power, solar power and other renewable energy, as well as increasing the use of nuclear power.

Background

Born in Stamford, Connecticut, Shays grew up in Darien, attended the Christian Science Principia College in Elsah, Illinois, and received an MBA and MPA from New York University. He lives in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Shays is a Christian Scientist; in September 2006, Shays said in an interview that he was questioning his faith.

Shays married the former Betsi DeRaismes in 1968. They served together in the Peace Corps in Fiji from 1968 to 1970. They have one daughter.

Voting Record

US News & World Report said that analysis of Shays' voting record reveals that he is a moderate, having voted historically more often with liberals than with conservatives, although it noted he voted with Congressional Republicans 80% of the time in 2002. Shays has listed former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich as his political inspiration, saying "Newt Gingrich is my hero."

Shays is labeled by his supporters as a "maverick" and "independent thinker", while conservative detractors regard him as a RINO ("Republican In Name Only"). Shays is pro-choice on abortion; and although he voted for the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, he had voted against various prior versions of the bill. Shays was endorsed by the Brady Campaign for his support for gun control and was one of only six Republicans to vote against banning lawsuits against gun manufacturers and distributors in 2005. Shays generally votes with the Democratic Party on matters affecting gays and lesbians; he has voted against the federal marriage amendment and co-sponsored a bill to overturn the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. He is one of the few Republicans to oppose amending the constitution to ban flag-burning. In 1999 he was one of 20 Republicans to vote against an ultimately failed bill to ban physician-assisted suicide. The Congressman has long been known for environmental regulations, and was endorsed in the past election by the League of Conservation Voters. He also advocates humane treatment of animals and ending discrimination in the workplace. Shays was also one of only four Republicans to vote against all four articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton.

In April 2005, he broke with most of his party over House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's alleged ethics violations. This made Shays the first Republican to say DeLay should step down from the Majority Leader post. He fought to maintain the Republican Party rule that requires an indicted leader to step down — the rule that ultimately resulted in Tom DeLay's resignation. Shays stated that he should resign, saying, "Tom's conduct is hurting the Republican Party, is hurting this Republican majority and it is hurting any Republican who is up for re-election."

Shays is a staunch advocate of a federal prohibition of online poker. In 2006, he cosponsored H.R. 4411, the Goodlatte-Leach Internet Gambling Prohibition Act. In 2008, he opposed H.R. 5767, the Payment Systems Protection Act (a bill that sought to place a moratorium on enforcement of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act while the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve defined "unlawful Internet gambling").

Shays is a member of or supported by the Republican Main Street Partnership, The Republican Majority For Choice, Republicans for Environmental Protection, It's My Party Too, and the Congressional Wildlife Refuge Caucus.

Views on Iraq

Shays voted in favor of the 2003 Congressional resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq. In 2003, he was the first U.S. Congressman to visit Iraq after the outbreak of war and he has traveled to Iraq 21 times overall, more than any other U.S. legislator.

From 2003 until August 24, 2006, Shays was a "stalwart supporter" of the War in Iraq, and of a continued U.S. military presence there. Shays has faced a continued political challenge to his views in a district where recent polls show a solid majority of voters disapprove of the 2003 US decision to invade Iraq.

On April 10, 2003, Shays told the Connecticut Post that "The war plan has been nearly flawless." On August 19, 2004, Shays told reporters, "We're on the right track now." On June 24, 2005, Shays said "We've seen amazing progress [in Iraq]." On July 27, 2005, Shays said on a local radio program that he was optimistic about the future of Iraq, and that he opposed any timetable for troop withdrawal. On June 11, 2006 Shays told the Hartford Courant that his position on the war was a matter of principle and he was not going to stop talking about it.

On October 11, 2006, at a debate Shays sparked outrage from critics with comments about the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal. "Now I've seen what happened in Abu Ghraib, and Abu Ghraib was not torture. It was outrageous, outrageous involvement of National Guard troops from [Maryland] who were involved in a sex ring and they took pictures of soldiers who were naked, and they did other things that were just outrageous. But it wasn't torture."

Upon returning from an August, 2006 Iraq trip, Shays became the first Congressional Republican to call for a timetable for withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. Shays said he is still a supporter of the war, but supports a timetable in order to "encourage some political will on the part of Iraqis".

Shays has staunchly disputed media claims that he has flipflopped his position on Iraq. "I am not distancing myself from the President," he told the Los Angeles Times on August 25, 2006. That same day, he told other reporters, "I totally support the war."

On February 16, 2007, Shays voted against H. Con. Res. 63 (which disapproved of increasing troop levels in Iraq) claiming that "The resolution sends the wrong message to the President, to our troops, and to our enemies" On July 13, 2007 Shays called on Congress to approve withdrawing virtually all American troops from Iraq by December 2008. "I believe we need a timeline. I believe the president's wrong," said Shays. Shays' latest plan marks the first time he has specified dates. On April 13, 2008, Shays defended President Bush's Iraq policy to a town meeting in his home district, telling them, "I support the President on Iraq."

Policy

Campaign finance reform

Along with Representative Marty Meehan, a Massachusetts Democrat, Shays cosponsored the Shays-Meehan bill, which was signed into law as the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. The American Civil Liberties Union "believes that key elements of Shays-Meehan violate the First Amendment right to free speech because the legislation contains provisions that would violate the constitutionally protected right of the people to express their opinions about issues through broadcast advertising if they mention the name of a candidate and restrict soft money contributions and uses of soft money for no constitutionally justifiable reason." The Supreme Court upheld the law (McConnell v. Federal Election Commission).

National security

After a series of leaks from within the FBI, CIA, and NSA regarding the disputed legality of surveillance, Shays chaired a hearing on National Whistleblower Protection. This hearing was largely opposed by the Republican leadership and the Bush administration, which was attempting to strip intelligence employees of whistleblower protections. The witness list included members of the military, the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA who had come forward about such issues as warrantless eavesdropping and the Abu Ghraib scandal in Iraq.

Elections

2006 election

In 2006, Shays was in "the fight of his political life", facing a strong challenge for reelection from former Westport First Selectwoman Diane Farrell, his opponent in 2004. According to U.S. News & World Report, "With money pouring in from the district and from national groups (Farrell expects to raise close to $3 million, Shays a bit less) and unregulated political interest groups targeting Shays with automated calls and negative telemarketing designed as polls, this one already has the odor of ugly." According to the US News report, Farrell says that, in 2002, Shays voted in support of Bush's post-9/11 agenda 80% of the time, but other analyses of his voting record reveals that historically he voted more often with liberals.

Despite the strong challenge from Farrell, Shays was re-elected to Congress in the 2006 election by a slim margin of 6645 votes (3%). Shays lost Bridgeport, Stamford, Norwalk, Westport and Weston to Farrell, but her margin in those communities was insufficient to overcome Shays's lead in the more Republican towns in the district.

After the defeats of Nancy Johnson and Rob Simmons, Shays was the only Republican congressman from Connecticut, and the only Republican congressman from all of New England.

2008 election

In the 2008 election, Shays faced Democratic nominee Jim Himes, an affordable housing executive and businessman. Shays was defeated by Himes 51% to 48%. Shays was likely swamped by Barack Obama's landslide victory in the 4th. His defeat means that there will be no Republicans representing New England in the House for the first time in almost 150 years.

Despite his loss, Shays carried all but three towns in his district, Bridgeport, Norwalk, Stamford; however his loss was attributed to a landslide loss in Bridgeport, the largest city in the district, where he won only 19% of the vote.

Secretary of Energy

Nomination

On November 16, 2008, President-elect John McCain announced that Shays would fill the position of Energy Secretary in his cabinet. Sharing McCain's positions on many environmental issues, including developing wind, geothermal and bio-fuel energy, exploring for oil off the coast, and building new nuclear plants and having coauthored a bipartisan bill to improve vehicle fuel efficiency, promote renewable energy, and repeal some tax breaks for fossil-fuel industries, McCain would be praised by Democrats and some Republicans for his bipartisanship, who argued that Shays was an outstanding bipartisan figure.

On January 23, 2010, Shays passed the nomination process with bipartisan support in Congress and became the 12th Energy Secretary, vowing to work with President McCain on renewable energies.

Tenure

On March 17, 2009, McCain met with Secretary of Energy Chris Shays to talk about a plan for alternative energy sources, including developing wind, solar, geothermal and bio-fuel energy, exploring for oil off the East Coast, building new nuclear plants and reducing dependence on Middle Eastern oil and declared that his administration would with the support from the Congress work on cost-effective renewable energy projects.

Comprehensive National Energy Plan

On February 22, 2010, Secretary of Energy Shays and President McCain would announce the first part of his Administration's “Comprehensive National Energy Plan”, the so-called “United States Nuclear Power Renewal Plan”. Using France as a role model, the plan would include the construction of 45 new nuclear reactors to be built in the United States by 2030, research in new-generation nuclear reactors as well as research in expanded use in Thorium (Th 90), which has potential advantages over a uranium fuel cycle, including greater abundance on Earth, superior physical and nuclear properties of fuel, enhanced proliferation resistance, and reduced nuclear waste production. As part of the plan, Shays announced $4.3 billion in federal loan guarantees to help Southern Company build two new nuclear reactors in Burke County, Georgia.

Comprehensive Plan for Energy Security

On March 31, 2010, McCain would announce the second part of the “Comprehensive Plan for Energy Security”, which would focus on proposing to open vast expanses of water along the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to oil and natural gas drilling, much of it for the first time. McCain stated that "moving towards clean energy is essential for our national security. It’s also about our economy. And it’s about the future of our planet."

The Atlantic coastline from Florida to New Jersey, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to oil and natural gas drilling. The eastern Gulf area is believed to contain as much as 3.5 billion barrels of oil and 17 trillion cu ft of gas, the richest single tract that would be open to drilling under the McCain plan. The Atlantic coastline is believed to contain as much as 1.15 billion barrels of oil.

On May 10, 2010, Shays met with his Norwegian colleague, Minister of Petroleum and Energy Ketil Solvik-Olsen (FrP) to discuss offshore oil rig security and oil and natural gas production, including visiting Norwegian oil rigs in the Norwegian Sea.

The visit would also include the signing of a trade agreement where the Norwegian state-controlled oil company Statoil, the biggest offshore oil and gas company in the world, would assist in the construction of secure offshore oil rigs along the Atlantic coastline and improving existing oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Pacific coast and Alaska.

See also

Offices held

Political offices
Seal of U.S. Department of Energy Preceded by:
Samuel Bodman

10th United States Secretary of Energy
Served under: John McCain

Since January 23, 2009

Incumbent
Order of precedence in the United States of America
Great Seal of the United States (obverse) Preceded by:
Bill Graves
Secretary of Transportation
United States order of precedence
Secretary of Energy
Succeeded by:
Lisa Keegan
Secretary of Education
United States Presidential Line of Succession
Great Seal of the United States (obverse) Preceded by:
Bill Graves
Secretary of Transportation
15th in line
Secretary of Energy
Succeeded by:
Lisa Keegan
Secretary of Education


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