Following in the footsteps of his father, Milward – who served in the Wyoming legislature and later became the state’s governor and U.S. senator -- Alan K. Simpson was elected in 1964 to the Wyoming House of Representatives, where he served for thirteen years. A popular and effective legislator, he became majority whip, majority floor leader and speaker pro tempore before running successfully for the U. S. Senate in 1978.
Simpson made his mark quickly in Washington by accepting difficult assignments and sponsoring legislation that dealt with the establishment of federal standards for clean air and water, toxic waste cleanup, and nuclear regulation. He was active on issues regarding veterans, aging, the environment, and the nation’s immigration laws. Following his reelection by a wide margin in 1984, he was elected by his Republican peers to the position of the assistant majority leader (“whip”). He served as assistant leader for ten years, four years into his third Senate term.
Simpson retired at the end of his third term, in 1996, and for four academic years taught as a visiting lecturer at the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and for two years he served as the Director of the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School.
In late 2000, he and his wife, Ann, returned to their Cody, Wyoming home. Al became, and remains, a partner in the law firm Simpson, Kepler and Edwards, the Cody division of the Denver firm of Burg Simpson Eldredge, Hersh and Jardine. He also taught and remains active in various capacities at his beloved alma mater, the University of Wyoming. He has served on numerous corporate and non-profit boards, and is in heavy demand throughout the country as a speaker on current events, the nation’s economic future, and the role of Congress in society.
In 2006, Simpson was named as one of ten members of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan panel chaired by former Congressman Lee Hamilton and former Secretary of State and Chief of Staff to the President, Jim Baker, appointed by the United States Congress and charged with assessing the then current situation in Iraq and the US-led Iraq War, and offering specific policy recommendations.
In early 2010 President Barack Obama asked Al Simpson to co-chair with Erskine Bowles (former President of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform—commonly known as the Deficit Commission, or Debt Panel. Eleven (five Republicans, five Democrats and one Independent) of the 18 members of the Commission voted to support the final draft report, “The Moment of Truth” (see on www.fiscalcommission.gov). Simpson saw the Commission’s work as a valuable opportunity to educate the public.