After long-time Senator John Warner’s death in May, high profile former Senators Carl Levin and Mike Enzi passed away in the last week, both having served long high status careers in congress.
John Warner, a veteran of the Korean war, was famous for his fear over the American military practice eroding the Geneva Convention and the effect it would have on captured American troops, and tried to limit wartime legislation that failed to provide protections for enemy combatants. He was also instrumental in his role in the “gang of 14” who found a compromise to end a judicial filibuster in 2005. The compromise led to Democrats voting for cloture to preventing a rewriting of Senate rules ending judicial filibusters altogether with a majority vote, which had the effect of preserving the practice still so controversial now.
Enzi served in Wyoming, and died after a bicycle accident in his home state. Staunchly conservative on domestic issues, including gay marriage, abortion, and the second amendment. He also opposed environmental regulation and legalized gambling in his state. He may have been more nuanced on foreign policy supporting US aid to South Korea during the 1997 financial crisis and prosecution of Yugoslav war crimes, while also voting to end US food and medicine blockades to Cuba.
Levin served in congress for 36 years for Michigan. Originally active in Detroit politics, including becoming the President of the City Council and being described as the right hand man for Coleman Young, the city’s first African-American Mayor, he became a staunch supporter of the state’s auto industry. A long time leader of the Armed Services Committee, he was instrumental in declassifying government documents during the war, in favor of government transparency, and the START treaties. He was also key in ending “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and investigating mistreatment in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. He was also opposed to the Iraq War, suggesting that even if Saddam had acquired nuclear weapons, he would likely not use them offensively. Has both preceded and succeeded as the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee by John Warner.
Staff writer: Ari B