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Peter Anthony DeFazio (born May 27, 1947) is an Americanmarker politician. He serves as a Democratic U.S. Representative from Oregonmarker, representing the since 1987. The district includes Eugenemarker, Springfieldmarker, Roseburgmarker and part of Corvallismarker. DeFazio is Oregon's most senior member of Congress, which makes him the dean of Oregon's House of Representatives delegation. A native of Massachusettsmarker and a veteran of the United States Air Force, he previously served as a county commissioner in Lane County, Oregonmarker.

Political career

From 1977 to 1982, DeFazio worked as an aide for U.S. Representative Jim Weaver. DeFazio was elected as a Lane Countymarker commissioner in 1983 and served as chairman from 1985 to 1986. In 1986, DeFazio was elected to Weaver's House seat when Weaver did not seek reelection to the House. DeFazio narrowly won in a competitive three-way primary against State Senators Bill Bradbury and Margie Hendrikson, and then won the General Election with 54 percent of the vote. He has never faced another contest nearly that close, and has been re-elected eleven times. He was most recently reelected in 2008, winning 82% of the vote over two minor party candidates.

DeFazio has a liberal voting record and is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a caucus of left-leaning Democratic congresspersons. DeFazio supports federal government intervention in health care, the environment, labor, and education. He opposes the Iraq War and free trade agreements.

One issue where DeFazio breaks from other liberal/progressive Democrats in Congress is gun control. He supports concealed carry rights for gun owners.

After Senator Bob Packwood resigned in early September 1995, DeFazio ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate in a special primary, losing to 3rd District Congressman Ron Wyden. Wyden started out with clear advantages over DeFazio; more seniority, a base in the large Portlandmarker media market and more cash on hand in his campaign committee. However, DeFazio's scrappy campaign style, underscored by his TV ads featuring his populist musings while driving in his Dodge Dart, made him a favorite among many Democratic activists. Ultimately, DeFazio lost to Wyden by only 5% in the early Dec. 1995 primary, despite his early lead of 20%. Wyden, bruised by the primary and trailing State Senator Gordon Smith, managed to pull of a 2% upset against Smith in the Jan. 1996 special general election. Many Democrats wanted DeFazio to then run for the seat of Senator Mark Hatfield, who announced right after the special primary election that he would not seek re-election in 1996. However, Democrats with influence over campaign cash, chiefly Senator and Democratic Senate Campaign Committee chair Bob Kerrey of Nebraska and former Oregon Governor Neil Goldschmidt strongly recruited and promoted self made millionaire and Mentor Graphics founder, Tom Bruggere. Faced with the prospect of having to raise huge sums of money to take on Bruggere in the primary and then millionaire Smith in the General Election, DeFazio announced in Feb. 1996 that he would not run. Bruggere easily won the primary but lost to Smith narrowly in November, 1996

DeFazio reportedly considered and re-considered running against Smith for the 2008 Senate election. On April 20, 2007, DeFazio announced he would not run for Smith's seat.

On September 25, 2008, DeFazio and California representative Pete Stark signed a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi proposing a one quarter of one percent transaction tax on all trades in financial instruments including stocks, options, and futures. Subsequently DeFazio introduced the No BAILOUT Act.

After Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, it was reported that DeFazio was one of individuals being discussed for nomination as Obama's Secretary of Transportation.However, fellow U.S. Representative Ray LaHood was named to the post in December 2008.

Somewhat controversially, DeFazio declined to support the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, voting against the final stimulus package on February 13, 2009. He was one of only nine House Democrats to not vote "yea" on the bill, and one of only seven to vote "nay". DeFazio said that his vote against the bill was due to his frustration over compromises made to win support from moderate Republicans in the Senate, saying, "I couldn't justify borrowing money for tax cuts," in reference to a bipartisan group's decision to cut funding for education and infrastructure initiatives the Oregon congressman had supported in favor of more tax reductions. He also advocated that the U.S. Senate change its cloture rules, doing away with the filibuster that, in the current 59–40 Democratic majority, gives Republicans the ability to block legislation from coming to a vote.

At a closed-door meeting of the House Democratic Caucus in late March 2009, President Obama reportedly upbraided DeFazio for his vote against the stimulus. "Don't think we're not keeping score, brother," Obama quipped, according to the Associated Press, while urging DeFazio to support his budget proposal. DeFazio, speaking to press after the exchange, professed that he was honored that Obama recognized him and the issues of his constituents.

DeFazio made headlines in mid-November 2009 when he suggested, in an interview with liberal MSNBC commentator Ed Schultz, that President Obama should fire Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers. "We may have to sacrifice just two more jobs to get back millions for Americans," said DeFazio. The quote made top headlines at progressive news blog The Huffington Post. DeFazio also suggested that a formal call by the Congressional Progressive Caucus for Geithner and Summers to be removed might be forthcoming.

Committee assignments

Personal life

DeFazio was born in Needham, Massachusettsmarker. He served in the United States Air Force from 1967 to 1971. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Tufts Universitymarker in 1969 and a Master of Science degree from the University of Oregonmarker in 1977, and worked as a gerontologist.

DeFazio is a member of the Roman Catholic Church. He and his wife, Myrnie Daut, reside in Springfieldmarker.


  1. On the Issues — Peter DeFazio issue positions and quotes
  2. Congress Votes Database: Peter DeFazio voting record from the Washington Post
  3. Project Vote Smart - Representative Peter A. DeFazio - Issue Positions (Political Courage Test)
  4. Daily Kos: OR-Sen: DeFazio beats Smith - DSCC poll
  5. Democrats Not Supporting the Stimulus
  6. The Progressive Gadfly: DeFazio Explains His 'No' on Stimulus
  7. DeFazio's profile from Project Vote Smart

External links

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