Sheldon Whitehouse was born in New York City and now resides in Newport, R.I. He is the son of a U.S. ambassador and spent parts of his childhood in South Africa, Cambodia, Guinea and Laos. He earned a bachelor's degree in architecture from Yale University in 1978 and a law degree from the University of Virginia in 1982.
Whitehouse was a lawyer in the state attorney general's office from 1984 to 1990 before becoming legal counsel to the governor and then policy director. In 1992, he was named the director of the state Department of Business Regulation.
He was appointed U.S. attorney in 1994 and was elected state attorney general in 1998.
Whitehouse was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006, wresting control of the seat from Republicans, who had held the seat for three decades.
Whitehouse and his wife, Sandra, have two children.
Sheldon Whitehouse rode a wave of national dissatisfaction with President George W. Bush and the Iraq war to the U.S. Senate, unseating Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee in 2006.
In March 2012, he announced new legislation to help end secretive campaign spending by strengthening disclosure laws, aiming to "blunt the worst effects" of the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United v. FEC decision, which held that the government could not restrict independent political expenditures by corporations and unions.
In response to the June 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the 2010 health care reform bill, Whitehouse said, "By upholding the law, the court validated the principle that all Americans should have access to health care."
Whitehouse drew a share of the spotlight at President Barack Obama's White House health care summit in early 2009. As Obama was closing the summit and stressing the urgency of reforming health care, he noted that Whitehouse had likened the moment to the final scene of the movie "Thelma & Louise," when Thelma and Louise barreled toward a cliff and their inevitable death.
Obama quoted Whitehouse as saying: "We're in the car headed toward the cliff and we must act." The president added that while Thelma and Louise did go over the cliff, "that's not our intention here."
In May 2012, he introduced legislation that would create a commission that had as its goal ending breast cancer by 2020.
In Congress, he has called for more detailed disclosure requirements for campaign finance.
He and Sen. John McCain filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in May 2012 that they said in a statement expressed their concerns about "the rise of unlimited, anonymous money now flooding our elections."
Whitehouse also favors improved environmental oversight. He has pushed to impose a minimum 30 percent income tax on people making over $2 million yearly, a measure known as the Buffett rule after billionaire Warren Buffett, who has called for higher taxes on the rich.
In 2010, Whitehouse and other members of the state's congressional delegation helped secure more than $13 million in new federal funding to help Rhode Island recover from devastating flooding that put much of Rhode Island under water.
Whitehouse voted in 2010 to confirm Elena Kagan as the 112th justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
He has called for a national foreclosure moratorium following news reports of flawed and erroneous documents, and he has asked Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate foreclosure practices at major institutions that service loans.
Whitehouse was a high-profile critic of the President George W. Bush administration's Justice Department.
In August 2008, Whitehouse and three other senators criticized proposed FBI rules that they said could lead to innocent Americans being spied upon in the name of fighting terrorism. He was a harsh critic of former Attorney General Albert Gonzales, and he questioned former Attorney General Michael Mukasey during his confirmation hearings about the use of waterboarding as an interrogation method.
As U.S. attorney, Whitehouse brokered a $9.5 million settlement from the barge company responsible for the 1996 North Cape oil spill that dumped almost 830,000 gallons of home heating oil into Block Island Sound, killing 9 million lobsters, thousands of birds and millions of fish.
Whitehouse was elected Rhode Island's attorney general in 1998. He once said a career high was passage of a 2004 state constitutional amendment that removed legislators and their designees from state boards and commissions, but that came with a cost.
Democrats who dominated the state's General Assembly withheld their support when Whitehouse ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2002, instead endorsing former state Sen. Myrth York, who lost the race to a Republican.
Whitehouse faced a setback in 2000 when, during his time as attorney general, a gang leader gunned down a Providence teenager, Jennifer Rivera, the night before she was to testify in a murder trial. Rivera's family said Whitehouse and Providence police should have offered her witness protection.
Whitehouse said he did not know of the threat against Rivera, but said he regretted not having the foresight to reform the witness protection program to anticipate threats.
Committee Assignments: Judiciary; Environment and Public Works; Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; Special Aging; Budget
American Conservative Union Rating: 0
Americans for Democratic Action Rating: 100
Sheldon Whitehouse is not up for re-election in 2014.
(Last updated by The Associated Press on September 10, 2014.)