|United States Senator|
January 3, 1997
Serving with Jerry Moran
|Chair of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee|
January 3, 2015
|Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee|
January 3, 2003 - January 3, 2007
|Chair of the Senate Ethics Committee|
January 20, 2001 - June 6, 2001
November 19, 1999 - January 3, 2001
|Chair of the House Agriculture Committee|
January 3, 1995 - January 3, 1997
|Kika de la Garza|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Kansas's 1st district
January 3, 1981 - January 3, 1997
Charles Patrick Roberts
April 20, 1936
Topeka, Kansas, U.S.
Franki Fann (m. 1969)
|Education||Kansas State University (BA)|
|Branch/service||United States Marine Corps|
|Years of service||1958-1962|
Charles Patrick Roberts (born April 20, 1936) is an American politician of the Republican Party serving as the senior United States Senator from Kansas, a position he has held since 1997. Roberts previously served as the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Born in Topeka, Kansas, Roberts is a graduate of Kansas State University. He served as a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps and worked as a newspaper reporter before entering politics in the late 1960s. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1980 to succeed 1st District Congressman Keith Sebelius, for whom he had worked. He served eight terms in the House, including one as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.
Roberts was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996, and is currently serving his fourth term. On the Intelligence Committee, he was responsible for an investigation into the intelligence failures prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He is currently the dean of Kansas's congressional delegation and Chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee. He is the first person to chair both the House and the Senate agriculture committees.
Roberts was born on April 20, 1936 in Topeka, Kansas, the son of Ruth B. (née Patrick) and C. Wesley Roberts.[self-published source?] His father served for four months as Chairman of the Republican National Committee under Dwight D. Eisenhower. Roberts's great-grandfather, J.W. Roberts, was the founder of the Oskaloosa Independent, which is the second-oldest newspaper in Kansas.
Roberts graduated in 1954 from Holton High School in Holton, Kansas. He went on to earn a B.A. in Journalism from Kansas State University in 1958, where he became a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. From 1958 to 1962, he served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, achieving the rank of Captain. Roberts was a reporter and editor for several Arizona newspapers between 1962 and 1967, when he joined the staff of Republican Kansas Senator Frank Carlson. In 1969, he became administrative assistant to Kansas's 1st District Congressman Keith Sebelius.
After Keith Sebelius announced his retirement, Roberts easily won the Republican primary, which was tantamount to election in the heavily Republican 1st District. He was re-elected seven times without serious difficulty, never receiving less than 60 percent of the vote; in 1988, he ran unopposed.
Roberts served as the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee from 1995 to 1997.
After Republican Senator Nancy Kassebaum declined to seek a fourth term, Roberts ran to succeed her. He easily won the Republican primary, defeating three minor candidates with 78% of the vote. In the general election, he faced Democratic State Treasurer Sally Thompson. Term limits were an issue during the campaign; while Roberts said that he was not totally opposed to term limits, he was wary of limits that did not apply to current members of Congress, saying that the proposed limits should apply to everyone. While Thompson signed the national term limits pledge from the group Americans for Limited Terms, Roberts declined to do so, becoming the only major party candidate for the U.S. Senate in the 1996 elections to not sign the pledge. However, he did say that "I plan only to serve two terms in the U.S. Senate."
In the general election, Roberts defeated Thompson by 652,677 votes (62.02%) to 362,380 (34.44%), almost certainly helped by the presence of former Kansas Senator Bob Dole atop the ticket as the Republican presidential nominee.
Roberts was opposed in the Republican primary by Tom Oyler, who had run against him in 1996. Roberts defeated him 84% to 16%. No Democratic candidate opposed him in the general election; he faced only Libertarian nominee Steven Rosile and Reform nominee George H. Cook, defeating them by 641,075 votes (82.52%) to 70,725 (9.10%) and 65,050 (8.37%), respectively.
Roberts was unopposed in the Republican primary and defeated the Democratic nominee, former Congressman Jim Slattery, in the general election by 727,121 votes (60.06%) to 441,399 (36.46%).
In the 2014 election, Roberts faced a hard-fought primary challenge from physician Milton R. Wolf. Wolf received several endorsements from national organizations associated with the Tea Party movement. Roberts defeated Wolf in the Republican primary by 125,406 votes (48.12%) to 106,202 (40.75%). In the general election, for the second time in his tenure, Roberts did not face a Democratic opponent; Democratic nominee Chad Taylor withdrew from the race. Roberts won the general election, obtaining 53.15% of the vote; Independent Greg Orman received 42.53%, while Libertarian nominee Randall Batson received 4.32%.
Despite being the longest-serving member of the Kansas delegation, Roberts spent the first 14 years of his Senate career as Kansas' junior senator, since Sam Brownback had taken office on election day 1996 to finish out Dole's term. However, after Brownback gave up his seat to make a successful run for Governor, Roberts became Kansas' senior senator.
Roberts was a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, chairing the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities. This subcommittee oversaw the military's work in the area of homeland security and the efforts to prevent proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.
After winning the 2008 Presidential election, Barack Obama nominated Tom Daschle for United States Secretary of Health and Human Services. In February, after Daschle offered a public apology for his failure to pay income taxes on use of a luxury car and driver, Roberts declined to state his opinion of Daschle's explanation and stated that sentiment for the nomination in Kansas was "not especially good". Daschle subsequently withdrew. In March, Roberts was one of fourteen senators to vote against a procedural move that essentially guarantees a major expansion of a national service corps. The bill was estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to cost at least an outlay for the fiscal year 2010 of $418 million toward around $5.7 billion from 2010 through 2014. In May, President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor for Supreme Court Associate Justice. Roberts had previously voted against Sotomayor with twenty-eight other Republicans when she was nominated for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. In an interview shortly after the nomination, Roberts was asked if he would vote for Sotomayor to avoid being called a "bigot" and answered, "I'm a Marine and nothing much scares me. That's not going to be a consideration in my vote." Roberts stated his reasons for voting against Sotomayor in 1998 in a separate interview, and that he did "not plan to vote for her." Roberts' comments were significant for his being the first Republican to announce how he would vote on the Sotomayor nomination. Sotomayor was confirmed in August in a vote of 68 to 31 with Roberts voting against the nomination.
President Obama's top domestic agenda at the start of his presidency was to ensure health insurance for all Americans, which entailed Democrats in Congress scaling back their proposals in attempts to trim tens of billions of dollars a year from existing health programs. Roberts pushed back against a proposal by the Obama administration to use 600 billion of Medicare and Medicaid savings to pay for health care legislation, saying, "More cuts to Medicare? Let's not do that right now, please."
In February 2019, when asked about comments by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson regarding the passage of the reauthorization of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Pesticide Registration Enhancement Act, Roberts stated his support for both and in passing child nutrition reauthorization legislation.
While participating in negotiations over the Republican-sponsored American Healthcare Act, Roberts was asked by Alice Ollstein if he supported a proposed revision to mandated coverage in the bill. He responded: "I wouldn't want to lose my mammograms." This comment was widely condemned. Roberts subsequently apologized.
In May 2019, Roberts was a cosponsor of the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by Ben Sasse and Jon Tester intended to reform hours of service for livestock haulers through authorizing drivers to have the flexibility to rest at any point during their trip without it being counted against their hours of service and exempting loading and unloading times from the hours of service calculation of driving time.
Roberts opposed President Barack Obama's health reform legislation; he voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in December 2009, and he voted against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. In September 2017, Roberts supported the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill. When interviewed about why he supported it, Roberts repeatedly refused to say why he thought the bill was good, and avoided speaking about the bill's policy contents. Instead, he said he supported the bill because it was the last best chance to repeal Obamacare.
Roberts worked to secure $15 million for research on carbon sequestration. On the topic of global warming, Roberts has said, "There's no question there's some global warming, but I'm not sure what it means. A lot of this is condescending elitism."
Roberts voted to confirm Gale Norton as Secretary of the Interior, to exclude oil and gas smokestacks from mercury regulations, and to reclassify the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a Cabinet department.
In 2017, Roberts was one of 22 senators to sign a letter to President Donald Trump urging the President to have the United States withdraw from the Paris Agreement. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Roberts has received over $415,000 from oil, gas and coal interests since 2012.
In January 2014, Roberts introduced the Opportunities Created At the Local Level Act. The bill would allow states to freely choose without federal interference their own education standards, testing and curricula.
In February 2019, Roberts was one of twenty senators to sponsor the Employer Participation in Repayment Act, enabling employers to contribute up to $5,250 to the student loans of their employees as a means of granting employees relief and incentivizing applicants to apply to jobs with employers who implement the policy.
Roberts supports the Patriot Act, and the President's authority for warrantless surveillance. Roberts was the only senator blocking the nomination of Army Secretary Eric Fanning. Roberts' refusal to lift his hold on the nomination until President Obama promised to never move anyone from the Guantanamo Bay detention camp to Fort Leavenworth drew criticism on the Senate floor from Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, who noted that the United States Secretary of the Army has no control over the detainees.
The 2004 Intelligence Authorization Act saw the creation of the Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program. The program links undergraduate and graduate students with US security and intelligence agencies" by providing funding to selected US students entering university, in return for a commitment to join the agency for at least 18 months on graduation. PRISP is a decentralized program which funds students through various intelligence agencies.
As chairman of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Roberts was responsible for the committee's investigation into the intelligence failures prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The first half of the Senate Report of Pre-war Intelligence on Iraq was released on July 9, 2004. The second half, according to language voted on by the full Committee, consists of five parts including: whether public statements and reports and testimony regarding Iraq by U.S. Government officials made between the Gulf War period and the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom were substantiated by intelligence information; the postwar findings about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and weapons programs and links to terrorism and how they compare with prewar assessments; prewar intelligence assessments about postwar Iraq; any intelligence activities relating to Iraq conducted by the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group (PCTEG) and the Office of Special Plans within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; and the use by the Intelligence Community of information provided by the Iraqi National Congress (INC).
Sen. Pat Roberts introduced a biotech labeling bill on February 19, 2016. The bill aims to establish a standardized voluntary labeling plan that would block Vermont from enacting its mandatory genetic engineering labeling law on July 1 of that year.The bill passed, and President Obama signed it on July 29, 2016.
In June 2018, Roberts was one of thirteen Republican senators to sign a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions requesting a moratorium on the Trump administration family separation policy while Congress drafted legislation. He is in favor of increasing border patrols to reduce undocumented immigrant flow.
In May 2018, Roberts voted against a bill that would reinstate net neutrality rules and thereby overturn the FCC's repeal via a law authorizing Congress to reverse regulatory actions by a simple majority vote.
In March 2019, Roberts was a cosponsor of a bipartisan bill to undo a drafting error in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that mandated stores and restaurants to have to write off the costs of renovations over the course of 39 years via authorizing businesses to immediately deduct the entirety of costs of renovations.
In March 2019, Roberts was a cosponsor of a bipartisan resolution led by Gary Peters and Jerry Moran that opposed privatization of the United States Postal Service (USPS), citing the USPS as an establishment that was self-sustained and noting concerns that a potential privatization could cause higher prices and reduced services for customers of USPS with a particular occurrence in rural communities.
Roberts has an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA) for his consistent, ongoing support of pro-gun legislation. The NRA endorsed Roberts in the 2014 election and NRA-Political Victory Fund chairman stated that "Pat is the only ally and battle-tested candidate in this race who has consistently protected our Second Amendment freedoms." Since 1998, the NRA has provided Roberts $23,800 in donations.
One month after the Orlando nightclub shooting Roberts voted for two Republican-backed proposals on gun policy: Chuck Grassley's amendment to increase funding for background checks and John Cornyn's policy that would have put a 72-hour hold on any terrorist suspect buying a gun. He voted against both of the Democrat's policies, including the Feinstein Amendment, which banned suspected terrorists from buying guns. Roberts voted against the Manchin-Toomey amendment to expand background checks for gun purchases.
In February 2018, after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in which 17 were killed, Roberts came out in favor of age limits on the AR-15, the assault rifle that the assailant used in the high school shooting. Roberts said, "Certainly nobody under 21 should have an AR-15. I don't know why anybody would want an AR-15 unless they're going to take one out on the shooting range".
In January 2019, Roberts was one of thirty-one Republican senators to cosponsor the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, a bill introduced by John Cornyn and Ted Cruz that would grant individuals with concealed carry privileges in their home state the right to exercise this right in any other state with concealed carry laws while concurrently abiding by that state's laws.
In December 2010, Roberts voted against the ratification of New Start, a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and Russian Federation obliging both countries to have no more than 1,550 strategic warheads as well as 700 launchers deployed during the next seven years along with providing a continuation of on-site inspections that halted when START I expired the previous year. It was the first arms treaty with Russia in eight years.
In September 2016, Roberts was one of thirty-four senators to sign a letter to United States Secretary of State John Kerry advocating for the United States using "all available tools to dissuade Russia from continuing its airstrikes in Syria that are clearly not in our interest" and stating that there should be clear enforcement by the US of the airstrikes violating "a legally binding Security Council Resolution".
In June 2017, Roberts voted against a resolution by Rand Paul and Chris Murphy that would block President Trump's 510 million sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia that made up a portion of the 110 billion arms sale Trump announced during his visit to Saudi Arabia the previous year.
In March 2018, Roberts voted to table a resolution spearheaded by Bernie Sanders, Chris Murphy, and Mike Lee that would have required President Trump to withdraw American troops either in or influencing Yemen within the next 30 days unless they were combating Al-Qaeda.
In July 2019, Roberts was one of sixteen Republican senators to send a letter to Acting Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Russell Vought, Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin encouraging them to work with them to prevent a continuing resolution "for FY 2020 that would delay the implementation of the President's National Defense Strategy (NDS) and increase costs" and that the year long continuing resolution suggested by administration officials would render the Defense Department "incapable of increasing readiness, recapitalizing our force, or rationalizing funding to align with the National Defense Strategy (NDS)."
Roberts married Franki Fann in 1969. The couple has three adult children: David, Ashleigh, and Anne-Wesley.
Roberts lives in Alexandria, Virginia.The New York Times has reported that the house that Roberts claims as his residence in Dodge City, Kansas is actually owned and occupied by campaign contributors C. Duane and Phyllis Ross.
|Pat Roberts (R) (inc.) 53.3%|
|Greg Orman (Ind.) 42.4%|
|Randall Batson (Lib.) 4.3%|
United States Senate Republican Primary election in Kansas, 2014
|Pat Roberts (R) (inc.) 48%|
|Milton Wolf (R) 40.7%|
|D.J. Smith (R) 5.7%|
|Alvin Zahnter (R) 5.3%|
|Pat Roberts (R) (inc.) 60%|
|Jim Slattery (D) 36%|
|Pat Roberts (R) (inc.) 82.5%|
|Steven Rosile (Lib.) 9.1%|
|George Cook (Reform) 8.4%|
United States Senate Republican Primary election in Kansas, 2002
|Pat Roberts (R) (inc.) 83.7%|
|Tom Oyler (R) 16.3%|
|Pat Roberts (R) 62%|
|Sally Thompson (D) 34.4%|
|Mark S. Marney (Reform) 2.3%|
|Steven Rosile (Lib.) 1.2%|
United States Senate Republican Primary election in Kansas, 1996
|Pat Roberts (R) 78.2%|
|Tom Little (R) 8%|
|Thomas Oyler (R) 7.4%|
|Richard Cooley (R) 6.4%|
1994 Kansas 1st District United States Congressional Election
|Pat Roberts (R) (inc.) 77%|
|Terry L. Nichols (D) 23%|
1992 Kansas 1st District United States Congressional Election
|Pat Roberts (R) (inc.) 68%|
|Duane West (D) 29%|
|Steven Rosile (L) 2%|
1990 Kansas 1st District United States Congressional Election
|Pat Roberts (R) (inc.) 62%|
|Duane West (D) 37%|
1988 Kansas 1st District United States Congressional Election
|Pat Roberts (R) (inc.) 100%|
1986 Kansas 1st District United States Congressional Election
|Pat Roberts (R) (inc.) 76.5%|
|Dale Lyon (D) 23.5%|
1980 Kansas 1st District United States Congressional Election
|Pat Roberts (R) 62%|
|Phil Martin (D) 38%|
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Kansas's 1st congressional district
| Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee
Kika de la Garza
Kika de la Garza
| Chair of the House Agriculture Committee
|Party political offices|
Nancy Landon Kassebaum
| Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Kansas
1996, 2002, 2008, 2014
| U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Kansas
Served alongside: Sam Brownback, Jerry Moran
| Chair of the Senate Ethics Committee
| Ranking Member of the Senate Ethics Committee|
| Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee
| Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee
| Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee
| Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee
|U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
| United States Senators by seniority