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Daniel Patrick Moynihan: A Featured Biography

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Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York left college teaching to address a larger public audience as an elected official. Following a varied career as a social scientist, presidential aide, and ambassador, Moynihan came to the Senate in 1976 and served 24 years. A skilled legislator, he excelled at both floor debate and committee negotiation. The New York Democrat promoted policies to aid families and to provide stricter child support enforcement. He worked closely with Republican senator Robert Dole to author legislation to stabilize Social Security. He also became a vocal critic of Cold War-era military buildup and criticized the Reagan administration’s support for the Nicaraguan Contras. As chair of the Finance Committee in the 1990s, Moynihan criticized the Clinton administration’s proposal to expand health care and voted against welfare reform. In his later Senate years, Moynihan battled government secrecy and was instrumental in opening up thousands of previously classified files, among them the FBI’s “Venona” files regarding Soviet espionage. Moynihan retired in 2001.

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