Representative John Conyers, Jr., a Detroit Democrat, was re-elected to represent the 14th Congressional District in November of 2010, to his 24th term in the U.S. House of Representatives. The district covers all of Highland Park and Hamtramck, as well as large portions of Detroit, Dearborn and the Downriver communities of Melvindale, Allen Park, Southgate, Riverview, Trenton, Gibraltar and Grosse Ile.
Having entered the House of Representatives in 1965, Mr. Conyers is the second most senior member in the House of Representatives. He served as Chairman of the House Committee on Government Operations (now renamed Committee on Oversight and Government Reform) from 1989 until 1994. In 2006, Congressman Conyers was elected by his congressional colleagues to lead, as Chairman, the pivotal House Committee on the Judiciary in the 110th and 111th Congress. In addition to its oversight of the Department of Justice (including the FBI) and the Federal Courts, the Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over copyright, civil rights, consumer protection, and constitutional issues. Congressman Conyers was also a member of the Judiciary Committee in its 1974 hearings on the Watergate impeachment scandal and played a prominent role in the recent impeachment process, giving him the distinction as the only Judiciary Committee Member to have served on both panels.
Congressman Conyers is also one of the 13 founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and is considered the Dean of that group. Formed in 1969, the CBC was founded to strengthen African-American law makers’ ability to address the legislative concerns of Black and minority citizens.
In Mr. Conyers’ 40 plus years in Congress, some of his major accomplishments include: the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, the Motor Voter Bill of 1993, the Martin Luther King Holiday Act of 1983, the Alcohol Warning Label Act of 1988, and the Jazz Preservation Act of 1987. He was also the driving force behind the Help America Vote Act of 2002.
In recent years, Mr. Conyers has focused his efforts on promoting economic development in Southeast Michigan, fighting for equal justice and the protection of the civil rights for all Americans, and promoting peace around the world.
Working for the People of Detroit and Downriver Communities
Congressman Conyers is dedicated to improving the lives of the people of the 14th Congressional District. During the 111th Congress, he worked tirelessly to secure funding for deserving groups and organizations. In yet another example of his dedication to the city of Detroit, he secured $2.75 million in funding for various infrastructure improvements, including $750,000 for the restoration of the Detroit Institute of Arts, and an additional $500,000 for airport improvements. Reforming the justice system remains at the forefront of his mind, as evident in his ability to secure more than $3 million in funding for justice-related projects. This includes $1 million for a police department Firearm Reduction Initiative, $400,000 for the Wayne County Juvenile Mentoring Program, and $550,000 for the City of Detroit Parolees, Technical Parole Violators, and Former Prisoners Project, which aims at providing former prisoners with job training and employment opportunities.
Creating and Protecting Good Jobs in Southeast Michigan
Congressman Conyers worked closely with the other Members of Michigan’s Congressional Delegation to ensure that the millions of jobs provided by Michigan’s auto industry survived the 2008 financial crisis.
Congressman Conyers has also introduced several pieces of legislation aimed providing the currently unemployed with training programs and good jobs. His bill, H.R. 870, the “Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act,” would create a new tax on Wall Street speculators that would pour billions of dollars a year into Workforce Investment Act (WIA) training programs and innovative public and private sector jobs programs across the country. In the 111th Congress, Mr. Conyers also authored H.R. 4179, the “SHARE Credit Act,” which would establish a business tax credit, which would help prevent layoffs.
Fighting for Michigan’s Homeowners
In the 111th Congress, Congressman Conyers authored H.R. 1106, the “Helping Families Save Their Homes Act.” This law would allow bankruptcy court judges to reduce the principal and interest rates for homeowners facing foreclosure and help them remain in their homes. H.R. 1106 successfully passed the House of Representatives on March 5, 2009, before being filibustered by Senate Republicans.
Protecting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
In the 111th Congress, Congressman Conyers led an effort in which 133 Members of Congress ultimately pledged to oppose any legislative effort to cut Social Security benefits or raise the retirement age. In the 112th Congress, he has authored H. Con. Res. 72, which states that it is the sense of Congress that no deficit reduction plan should cut Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits.
Providing Leadership on Judiciary Issues
Representative Conyers has introduced and endorsed legislation to advance civil liberties, ensure equal protection and access to the voting booth, and combat violence against women. Since September 11th, he has worked to strike a balance between keeping our country safe from terrorism and protecting the civil liberties of our citizens. Conyers has supported the Administration, proper law enforcement, and intelligence authorities’ efforts to prevent terrorism. At the same time, he has worked to make sure that civil liberties and civil rights are preserved in the process.
In response to problems experienced by voters during the 2000 Presidential Election, Representative Conyers co-authored comprehensive election reform legislation to end discriminatory election practices, which was enacted in October of 2002. This bill advances civil rights and protects voting rights, among other provisions, by establishing federal minimum voting rights standards for election machines and requiring voting sites to be made accessible to those with disabilities.
As an outspoken critic of violence against women, Congressman Conyers was also a lead sponsor of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which was enacted in 1994 and re-authorized in 2001. It provides funding for federal, state, and local programs to combat domestic violence and sexual assault. In addition, Mr. Conyers is the principal author of the “End Racial Profiling Act,” legislation that would ensure that the rights of all Americans are protected by banning racial profiling nationwide and by requiring all federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to take administrative steps to eliminate the practice. He also introduced the “Hate Crimes Prevention Act,” legislation that would place a wide range of hate crimes under federal jurisdiction and allow for enhanced support by the Federal government of local investigation and prosecution.
Fighting for Michigan’s Working Families
Representative Conyers has spent his entire career fighting for Michigan’s working families. As a supporter of the UAW, Congressman Conyers is well aware of the struggles that affect working families. With families facing skyrocketing health care costs, rising unemployment, and an outdated minimum wage, Conyers continues to fight for equal pay for women and minorities, a raise in the minimum wage, and the full employment of all Americans.
In the 111th Congress, Congressman Conyers authored H.R. 6436, the “State Public Funds Protection Act,” which would keep taxpayer dollars out of corporate anti-union campaigns.
Working for Quality, Affordable Health Care
For more than three decades, Congressman Conyers has led efforts in Congress to reform the health care system. He is the founder of the 45 member Congressional Universal Health Care Task Force. The caucus introduced H. Con. Res 99, which was supported by over 450 grassroots organizations across the country and dozens of Members of Congress. He recently reintroduced H.R. 676, the “The Expanded and Improved Medicare For All Act,” a single-payer health insurance bill which has the endorsement of over 4,000 physicians nationally. This legislation would guarantee every American access to affordable, comprehensive, quality health care.
Congressman Conyers has authored the Resident Physician Safety Protection Act in order to reduce the hours that resident physicians work so they can perform their work safely. Congressman Conyers’ advocacy directly led to a decision by the American Medical Association and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education to adopt major provisions of the bill.
In the 111th Congress, Congressman Conyers introduced H.R. 2381, the “Nurse and Healthcare Worker Protection Act.” This legislation would require the Secretary of Labor to promulgate a rule creating a standard for safe patient handling and injury prevention to prevent musculoskeletal disorders for health care workers handling patients in health care facilities. Under this standard, health facilities would have to purchase an adequate number of mechanical lifting devices for their employees to transport and lift patients.
In the 112th Congress, Congressman Conyers has introduced H.R. 894, the “Maternal Mortality Accountability Act.” This legislation would create a national reporting standard and provide resources to the states to encourage the accurate tracking of maternal deaths. H.R. 894 has been endorsed by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Amnesty International, and the American Medical Student Association (AMSA).
Holding Wall Street Accountable
During the 111th Congress, Congressman Conyers was selected by his colleagues to sit on the conference committee of the landmark Dodd-Frank “Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2011.” During the negotiations, Congressman Conyers fought to ensure that the bill protected consumers, while maintaining the antitrust powers of the Department of Justice.
Congressman Conyers has also fought to reinstate the so-called “Glass-Steagall” banking law, which required that traditional banks and investment houses remain separate.
Fighting for Peace
In the 111th Congress, Congressman Conyers authored a key provision in the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, which required the Secretaries of Defense and State to explore ways the United States could prevent accidental war with Iran.
In the 112th Congress, Mr. Conyers has worked on a bipartisan basis to successfully amend both the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act and the 2012 Defense Appropriations Act to block funding for the deployment of U.S. ground troops and mercenaries in Libya.
Afghanistan and Iraq
Representative Conyers is the founder of the bipartisan “Out of Afghanistan Caucus” and a cofounder of the “Out of Iraq Caucus.” The Out of Afghanistan Caucus serves as an informal bipartisan group of Congressional Members dedicated to reorienting the US commitment to the Afghan government and its people.
In the 111th Congress, Congressman Conyers worked with Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) to propose legislation that would ensure that the United States’ response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti was comprehensive, coordinated, and efficient. The “Haiti Empowerment, Assistance, and Rebuilding Act of 2010” would establish benchmarks for success and a clear reporting and accountability system for transparency so that Americans know where U.S. foreign aid spending in Haiti is going and whether or not it is achieving its desired impact.
Personal and Professional
Born in 1929, Rep. Conyers was raised in Detroit and educated in the city’s public school system. After serving in the National Guard and the United States Army Corps of Engineers in the Korean War, he returned to Michigan where he earned both his Bachelor of Arts (1957) and Juris Doctor (1958) degrees at Wayne State University.
He is the recipient of many awards for leadership, including the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Award, which was presented to him by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He has also been awarded a number of honorary degrees from colleges and universities throughout the nation. He is married to the former Monica Esters. Mr. and Mrs. Conyers have two sons, John III and Carl Edward.