Senator Ben Nelson joined Agenda in January of 2013. He brings to Agenda his unique combination of executive, legislative and regulatory experience. Senator Nelson was elected to the Senate in 2000. After his first term, he was re-elected with 64% of the vote in 2006. He announced his retirement in late 2011 and did not seek a third term in 2012
Serving on the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator Nelson’s priorities began with the drought that had plagued the U.S. for the eight years prior to his election. He worked to make disaster relief a part of the budget, so producers did not repeatedly turn to emergency measures to receive help. Senator Nelson’s work on the 2008 Farm Bill brought together his fiscal conservatism and commitment to American farmers.
He was also a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and the Chairman of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee. Working with Republicans and Democrats, Senator Nelson forged agreements between the Bush Administration and the Senate on tax cuts, Medicare reform, and homeland security. During the first term of the Obama Administration, he co-founded a bipartisan “Jobs Squad” of senators that cut $108 billion in spending from an economic recovery plan that ultimately became law. In the months following 9/11, Senator Nelson was instrumental in gaining passage of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), which provided a “backstop” for catastrophic insurance losses resulting from acts of terrorism. Senator Nelson has co-sponsored legislation which would establish a trust fund to pay future claims of those who become ill as a result of exposure to asbestos. The fund would be financed by contributions from companies which are or may be liable for the exposure and as well as their insurance carriers.
Earlier in his career, Senator Nelson was Governor of Nebraska. As governor, he pledged to bridge the gap between rural and urban areas to move forward as “One Nebraska” and to create a “more efficient and effective state government.” In 1994, Governor Nelson was the first Nebraska Governor to be elected to a second term in two decades.
His record of balancing Nebraska’s budget as governor was an asset as he worked to reduce federal spending in a way that was effective and fair. He led the state to eight straight balanced budgets and record balances in Nebraska’s General Fund. Under his leadership, Nebraska moved to the forefront of ethanol production, increasing production from 15 million gallons in 1990 to more than 300 million gallons by the time he left office in 1999.
Senator Nelson started his career in insurance law. He served as CEO of the Central National Insurance Group, as Chief of Staff and Executive Vice President of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and as Director of the Nebraska Department of Insurance.
Senator Nelson earned a bachelor’s degree in 1963, a master’s degree in 1965 and a law degree from the University of Nebraska in 1970.