In an unexpected move, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), an arch-conservative and leader of the Tea Party movement, is resigning his seat in order to head up the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington DC.
DeMint has been among the most extreme members of the Senate since first getting elected in 2004, drawing a hard-right line on issues from unions to LGBT rights to abortion and beyond.
Here’s a look back at some of DeMint’s Senate highlights:
1. Stood with Akin after “legitimate rape” remarks. Following Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-MO) infamous statement that victims of “legitimate rape” can’t become pregnant, DeMint was one of the first major conservatives to stand with the Missouri congressman. DeMint even used his political action committee to donate $90,000 to Akin’s campaign and used its network to raise hundreds of thousands more. “We support Todd Akin and hope freedom-loving Americans in Missouri and around the country will join us,” DeMint’s group said.
2. Led the opposition against Obamacare. In 2009, during the height of the GOP’s opposition to health care reform, DeMint told a conference call of conservative activists that, “If we’re able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.” Ironically, DeMint once supported Mitt Romney’s health care reform in Massachusetts, the law on which Obamacare is based.
3. Wants to prevent gay or unmarried teachers from teaching in public schools. In 2010, DeMint “said if someone is openly homosexual, they shouldn’t be teaching in the classroom and he holds the same position on an unmarried woman who’s sleeping with her boyfriend — she shouldn’t be in the classroom.” During his first Senate campaign in 2004, DeMint agreed with the state party’s platform barring gay teachers from public schools, claiming that the government shouldn’t endorse certain behaviors.
4. Pushed a bill outlawing the discussion of abortion over the Internet. Last year, DeMint proposed an amendment to an unrelated bill that would have barred a woman and her doctor from discussing abortion over the internet, even if her health was at risk and tele-conferencing was the most feasible option to receive care.
5. Wants to strip all federal employees of collective bargaining rights. Though most federal employees don’t enjoy the rights and benefits of unionization, DeMint wants to take away even the few bargaining rights they currently enjoy. “I don’t believe collective bargaining has any place in government,” DeMint told ThinkProgress last year.
6. Blocked creation of the National Women’s History Museum. Along with fellow arch-conservative Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), DeMint placed a hold on a 2010 bill to sell land near the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC in order to create the National Women’s History Museum. Coburn justified their move to block the museum by noting that there already exist museums for “quilters” and “cowgirls”.
7. Likened striking Chicago teachers to “thugs” in the Middle East. Speaking at the Values Voters Summit in September 2012, DeMint blasted Chicago teachers who were on strike for a brief period earlier this year. “On my way over, I was reading another story about a distant place where thugs had put 400,000 children out in the streets,” DeMint said. “And then I realized that was a story about the Chicago teachers strike.”
8. Threatened to single-handedly shut down the Senate. In September 2010, DeMint warned his colleagues that he would place a unilateral hold on every single piece of legislation in the Senate, bringing the entire lawmaking process to a grinding halt. Despite being in the minority, DeMint threatened to only allow bills to proceed that his office had personally approved.
9. Used a failed terrorist plot to attack unions. Following the failed “underwear bomber” plot in December 2009, DeMint went on Fox News and used the episode as an opportunity to bash unions. “I am concerned, because it’s related to another issue that we’re dealing with now in the Senate,” DeMint said. “The administration is intent on unionizing and submitting our airport security to union bosses’ collective bargaining.”
10. Argued that people with pre-existing conditions got better care before Obamacare. Speaking with ThinkProgress at a Tea Party rally this year, DeMint argued that Obamacare actually hurt people with pre-existing conditions, despite that fact that it bars insurance companies from denying them care. “I can guarantee you people with pre-exisitng conditions are going to get less health care—lower quality health care—under Obamacare,” DeMint said.
11. “Willing” to cause “serious disruptions” in the economy in order to secure draconian cuts. During last year’s debt ceiling showdown, DeMint appeared on Fox Business and said that, despite the fact that not raising the debt ceiling would cause “serious disruptions,” he was “willing to do that” in order to get major cuts to social programs like Medicare and Social Security.