Senator Jay Rockefeller has proudly served the people of West Virginia for nearly 50 years. Rockefeller first came to West Virginia in 1964 as a 27-year-old VISTA volunteer serving in the small mining community of Emmons. Many of the lessons that Rockefeller learned in Emmons have shaped his public service career and led to his life-long commitment to improving the lives of West Virginians and all Americans.
As a long-time advocate of accessible and quality healthcare, Rockefeller is recognized as one of the strongest champions for health care reform. He has an extensive and distinguished career of fighting to reduce the number of uninsured children and working families, protecting and improving seniors' and veterans' health care, and fighting for the promised health benefits of retired coal miners and steelworkers.
To diversify and expand economic opportunities, Rockefeller has played an instrumental role in attracting new investment and jobs to West Virginia. In addition to bringing a Toyota manufacturing plant to Buffalo, Rockefeller has recruited numerous national and international companies to the Mountain State, resulting in thousands of new jobs. At the same time, Rockefeller maintains a strong focus on strengthening core industries such as steel, coal and chemicals by fighting for fair trade policies and targeted tax relief. He is also working on policies that will allow for energy independence by drawing on West Virginia's natural resources to produce clean and reliable fuels.
As part of Senator Rockefeller's effort to strengthen the lives of children and families, he has coauthored legislation to improve educational opportunities for students, promote stability through adoptions and foster care, increase minimum wage for employees, reduce violence and obscenity on television, and help every school and library connect to the Internet. He has also supported numerous targeted tax cuts for working families such as the child tax credit and the earned-income tax credit, and he supported eliminating the marriage penalty.
Rockefeller is also known for his strong national security credentials, support for our nation's soldiers and veterans, and oversight of the country's intelligence programs. He has been critical of the nation's mismanagement of the Iraq war, and continues to press the United States to refocus its mission and resources on al Qaida and global terrorism.
Senator Rockefeller is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. He is also the Chairman of the Health Care Subcommittee on Finance; and a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. He also serves on the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
Rockefeller graduated from Harvard University in 1961 with a B.A. in Far Eastern Languages and History. In 1964, he came to Emmons, West Virginia, where he began his public service career serving the people of West Virginia. In 1966, he was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates and to the office of West Virginia Secretary of State in 1968. He served as President of West Virginia Wesleyan College from 1973 to 1976. In 1976, Rockefeller was elected Governor of West Virginia, and was re-elected in 1980. In 1984, he was elected to the United States Senate, and re-elected in 1990, 1996, 2002 and 2008.
Since 1967, Rockefeller has been married to Sharon Percy Rockefeller with whom he has four children: John, Valerie, Charles, and Justin. Jay and Sharon are also the proud grandparents of four granddaughters and two grandsons.