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Wilbert Joseph Tauzin, II, usually known as Billy Tauzin, (born June 14, 1943), Americanmarker lobbyist and politician of Cajun descent, is President and CEO of PhRMA, a pharmaceutical company lobby group. He was a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1980 to 2005, representing Louisiana's 3rd congressional district.

A lifelong resident of Chackbaymarker, a small town just outside Thibodauxmarker, Tauzin graduated from Nicholls State University in 1964 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree and earned a law degree from Louisiana State Universitymarker in 1967. While attending law school, he served as a legislative aide in the Louisiana state Senate.

He is married to Cecile Tauzin and has five children by a previous marriage.

Political career

Tauzin began his elective career in 1972, when he was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives and served four full terms as a Democrat. In 1979, 3rd District Congressman Dave Treen, Louisiana's first Republican congressman since Reconstruction, was elected the state's first Republican governor since that time. He resigned his House seat on March 10, 1980. Tauzin won a special election for the seat on May 17 and was sworn into office on May 22, just five months after winning a fifth term in the state house. He won by seven points. Tauzin defeated another Democrat, who also later turned Republican: Jim Donelon. Tauzin then won a full term in November 1980, with 85 percent of the vote.

For 15 years, Tauzin was one of the more conservative Democrats in the United States House of Representatives. Even though he eventually rose to become an assistant majority whip, he felt shut out by some of his more liberal colleagues and sometimes had to ask the Republicans for floor time. When the Democrats lost control of the House after the 1994 elections, Tauzin was one of the cofounders of the House Blue Dog Coalition, a group of moderate-to-conservative Democrats.

However, on August 8, 1995 Tauzin himself became a Republican, claiming that conservatives were no longer welcome in the Democratic Party. He soon became a Deputy majority whip, becoming the first Congressman to have been part of the leadership of both parties in the House. Regardless of party, Tauzin remained very popular at home. After 1980, he was reelected 12 more times without major-party opposition; the first nine of those completely unopposed.

Tauzin served as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee from 2001 until February 4, 2004 when he announced he wouldn't run for a 13th full term. Tauzin, who has five children by his first marriage, heavily backed his son, Billy Tauzin III, as his replacement, even going so far as to appear in ads that were criticized as blurring the lines on which man was actually running for Congress. In spite of his father's support, the younger Tauzin was defeated by 569 votes by Democrat Charlie Melancon.

During his tenure, he left his mark on issues ranging from natural gas, airline, trucking and electricity deregulation to the Clean Air Act, Superfund and the historic Telecommunications Act of 1996. In addition, he was the original author of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act and the Cable Act – the only bills over the past decade to become law despite a Presidential veto.

Private Sector

While recovering from a difficult fight with cancer, on January 3, 2005, the same day he left Congress, Tauzin began work as the head of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, a powerful trade group for pharmaceutical companies.

It was reported that they had offered more than $2.5 million per year for his services, outbidding the Motion Picture Association of America, which had offered Tauzin $1 million to lobby for it.

Two months earlier, Tauzin had played a key role in shepherding the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill through Congress, which had been criticized by opponents for being too generous to the pharmaceutical industry.

This link was explored at great length in an April 1, 2007 interview by Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes. The report, Under the Influence, pitted Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-N.C.) and Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) against Tauzin and accused him of using unethical tactics to push a bill that "the pharmaceutical lobbyists wrote". Their claim is supported by CSPAN video, the fact that it was the longest roll call in the history of the House of Representatives, and the 3 a.m. voting time. Along with Tauzin, many of the other individuals who worked on the bill are now lobbyists for the pharmaceutical industry. Michael Moore's 2007 film Sicko levied similar criticism.

Tauzin now is on the Board of Directors at Louisiana Healthcare Group.

In 2003, he was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfieldmarker


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