Leahy, who has served as the United States Democratic Senator from Vermont since 1974, ranks first in seniority in the Senate and is the President Pro Tempore. He is Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the senior-most member of the Appropriations Committee and the Agriculture Committee. Leahy is active on human rights issues, especially through his humanitarian work for victims of land mines. He led efforts in Congress to aid land mine victims by creating a special fund in the foreign aid budget, and the Leahy War Victims Fund now provides up to $14 million of relief to these victims each year. He also wrote and enacted civilian war victims relief programs in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, Leahy headed the Senate's negotiations on the 2001 anti-terrorism bill, the USA PATRIOT Act. He added checks and balances to the bill to protect civil liberties, provisions to triple staffing along the U.S.-Canada border, to authorize domestic preparedness grants to states, and to facilitate the hiring of new FBI translators.
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