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Ronald Lee "Ron" Wyden (born May 3, 1949) is an Americanmarker politician from Oregonmarker and a member of the Democratic Party. He won a seat in the United States House of Representatives in 1980, and served there until 1996, when he became a U.S. Senator.

Early career

While teaching gerontology at several Oregon universities, Wyden founded the Oregon chapter of the Gray Panthers; he led that organization from 1974 to 1980. Wyden is also the former director of the Oregon Legal Services Center for Elderly, a nonprofit law service.

Congressional career

In the 1980 Democratic primary, Wyden, who was just 30 years old at the time, upset incumbent Representative Bob Duncan in . Later that fall, Wyden easily defeated his Republican opponent, Darrell Conger. Wyden was re-elected to the House in each of the following seven elections.

In January 1996, Wyden narrowly defeated State Senate President Gordon Smith in a special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by Bob Packwood; he served briefly as Oregon's junior U.S. Senator alongside Mark Hatfield; Smith was elected later that year when Hatfield retired. Wyden holds the Senate seat once held by the late Wayne Morse, a man for whom Wyden worked in the summer of 1968 when he served as Morse's driver, and whom Wyden calls his mentor. Ironically, Morse was the last Democrat to represent Oregon in the Senate.

Wyden was elected to a full term in 1998, and in 2004, was re-elected to another full term, receiving 64% of the vote compared to 31% for his main opponent, Republican Al King. As of August 2007, Wyden has an approval rating of 58%, with 33% disapproving.

In the Senate, Wyden serves on the following Committees: Finance; Intelligence; Energy and Natural Resources; Budget and the Special Committee on Aging. He also chairs the Energy Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests.

Issues and voting record

Wyden characterizes himself as an "independent voice for Oregonians and the nation" and emphasizes his positions on health care reform, national security, consumer protection, and political transparency. On the Issues characterizes him as a "Hard-Core Liberal."

Defense and foreign policy

Wyden voted against authorization of the military force in Iraq, but voted for use of military force in Kosovomarker. He has also voted in favor of expanding NATOmarker into Eastern European former Soviet Bloc countries. Wyden wrote the Stop Arming Iran Act to ban the Defense Departmentmarker from selling surplus F-14 parts and prohibit buyers who have already acquired surplus Tomcat part from exporting them. Iranmarker is the only nation other than the U.S. to fly the F-14.

Health care

Wyden has stated personal opposition to physician assisted suicide, but has also stated a commitment to defending the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, which was twice passed by voter referendum. Wyden successfully blocked Senate attempts to pass legislation interfering with the Act by threatening a filibuster. Wyden has also consistently voted against limitations on the use of the death penalty.

In 2009 Wyden sponsored the Healthy Americans Act, an act that would institute a national system of universal health care through market based private insurance. Despite a voting record in favor of public health care , Wyden was attacked by union interests for advocating replacement of the employer tax exclusion with a tax deduction that would apply to all Americans (not just those who enjoy the good employer benefits provided to many union members). Wyden has shown support for increasing Medicare funding, enrolling more of the uninsured in federal programs (although his Healthy Americans Act would eliminate many of these programs including Medicaid and SCHIP and replace them with private insurance), importing lower priced perscriptions from Canada, and negotiating bulk drug purchases for Medicare in order to lower costs.

In 2003 Wyden joined with Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Trent Lott (R-MS) to put the Bush Administration's Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act over the top. Afterwards it was revealed that the Bush Administration had forced officials to hide its true cost, which later turned out to be triple its original claim. The bill has been widely criticized as favoring pharmaceutical companies, since it prohibits the Federal Government from negotiating for better drug prices.

Not long after Tom Daschle's withdrawal as President Barack Obama's nominee as United States Secretary of Health and Human Services due to a scandal over his failure to pay taxes, The Oregonian reported that Senator Wyden was being touted by many healthcare experts as a likely candidate to succeed Daschle as secretary-designate. Although Wyden was ultimately passed over in favor of Kansasmarker Governor Kathleen Sebelius, he took advantage of the interim to reintroduce his Healthy Americans Act, with additional co-sponsorship from Republican senators led by Tennesseemarker's Lamar Alexander and Utahmarker's Bob Bennett as well as from fellow Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley.

Trade and business

Wyden mostly supports free trade. While still in the House, he voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and has subsequently supported many trade deals in the Senate being one of the very few Democrats to vote in favor of the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). He has however voted against free trade agreements with Chilemarker, Singaporemarker, and Omanmarker. He was also one of the few Democrats to vote in favor of the Bush-Administration-proposed prescription drug plan passed in 2003. In 1996, he voted against the majority of his party to phase out many farm subsidy programs and also to implement welfare reform policies.

The senator has recently voted against restrictions on travel and trade with Cubamarker and also to end anti-Castro broadcasting to the country. However, in 1998, he supported a proposal that would uphold the status quo of American-Cuban relations.

Social issues

Wyden has opposed most limits on abortion. He has voted against proposals to ban partial birth abortion, prevent abortions from occurring on military bases, and prohibit minors from crossing state lines to obtain abortions. He has been rated 100% by the pro-choice NARAL. Wyden has been an advocate of gun control. He voted against limiting lawsuits against gun manufacturers and has voted in favor of increasing background checks.

Wyden has consistently opposed a constitutional amendment to ban flag desecration. He has also publicly announced support for same-sex marriage and was one of 14 Senators to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. He also voted against the 2006 proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage, and he has cast votes in favor of legislation designed to prevent job descrimination and hate crimes against homosexuals.

In June 2007, Wyden was among the minority of Democrats to vote in favor of declaring English the official language of the United States.

Civil liberty and law

Ron Wyden
On November 10, 2005, Wyden was one of five Senate Democrats who joined 44 Republicans in voting "yes" on Amendment no. 2516, brought to the floor by Republican senator Lindsey Graham, which ruled that enemy combatants did not have the right to Habeas Corpus.

Wyden spoke in favor of John Roberts during his confirmation hearing as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and voted with the Republican majority to confirm him. Wyden has been a passive opponent of the Patriot Act. On March 2, 2006, he was one of 10 senators to vote against renewing the bill. citing concerns about privacy protections.

Wyden voted against the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, a Republican effort to restrict the number of class actions suits against businesses and the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, a bipartisan change in bankruptcy law designed to make it more difficult to file for bankruptcy and to make those in bankruptcy pay more of their debts. However, he voted for the previous Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2001 (S-420, substituted by amendment into H.R. 433) which contained many of the same provisions.

Tax policy

Wyden is critical of the estate tax, which he feels is inefficient, and has voted repeatedly to abolish it. He co-authored the Internet Tax Nondiscrimination Act, which bans internet taxes in the United States. He has also voted with Republicans to lower the capital gains tax, to encourage the study of the flat tax, and to require a 3/5 majority to raise taxes. However, Wyden voted against the Bush tax cuts passed in 2001 and 2003. He has also voted against the balanced-budget amendment.


During the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, Wyden voted against the financial bailout backed by the Bush administration. He did not vote on the automobile industry bailout, though he said he would have voted for cloture if he had been present. Wyden added, "While I continue to have concerns about ensuring that taxpayers are protected if this loan is to occur, I believe that if the President can unwisely provide $750 billion of taxpayer money for the investment banks who took horribly unacceptable risks and helped trigger an economic collapse, we certainly have a duty to attempt to preserve a cornerstone domestic industry and the jobs of hundreds of thousands of working people whose personal actions are in no way responsible for the current economic crisis."

Wyden was among several moderate Democratic senators who in early January 2009 criticized President-elect Barack Obama's stimulus plan, calling for a greater emphasis on "tangible infrastructure investments" and warning that an effort had to be made to differentiate it from the Bush bailouts Wyden had opposed. However, Wyden ultimately voted for the bill and voted mostly with his party on various amendments to the bill.


Wyden is a supporter of environmental protection measures, and was among the minority of senators to vote against confirming the appointment of Gale Norton as Secretary of the Interior. In May 2007, Wyden also opposed the appointment of Lyle Laverty as assistant interior secretary for fish, wildlife and parks (this time on ethical grounds).

Committee assignments

Wyden serves on the following committees and subcommittees:

Source: S730, and S7168

Electoral history

*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 1998, minor candidates received 1,413 votes. **Packwood resigned in 1995, and the remainder of his term was filled by Wyden.
The 1996 election was the January 1996 special election, not the general election in November 1996 (won by Wyden's opponent in the special, Gordon Smith).

Personal life

Wyden was born Ronald Lee Wyden in Wichita, Kansasmarker to Edith Rosenow and Peter H.Wyden, both of whom were Jewishand had fled Nazi Germanya few years earlier. After graduating from Palo Alto High Schoolmarker, Wyden attended the University of California, Santa Barbaramarker on a basketball scholarship and later transferred to Stanford Universitymarker receiving his B.A. in 1971.He received a J.D. degree from the University of Oregon School of Lawmarker in 1974.

Wyden's home is in Portlandmarker, and he has an apartment in Washington, DCmarker.He has two grown children, Adam and Lilly, by his first wife, Laurie. Wyden married his current wife, Nancy Wyden (née Bass), the owner of New York's Strand Bookstore, on September 24, 2005, in a ceremony performed by Rabbi Ariel Stone of Portland. On October 26, 2007, Nancy gave birth to twins, Ava Rose Wyden and William Peter Wyden.

References and footnotes

Specific references:
  1. One Senator's Solution for Health Care Expansion from an April 2007 story on Morning Edition
  2. Meet Ron Wyden from his official Senate website
  3. SurveyUSA News Poll #12490
  4. Ron Wyden from On the Issues
  5. Ron Wyden on Crime from On the Issues
  6. " Sen. Ron Wyden: Stop Pentagon Sales of Surplus F-14 Parts." Associated Press, January 30, 2007.
  8. Will Unions Kill Health Care Reform? Washington Post blogs, May 28, 2009.
  9. Soak the rich, The Economist, July 16, 2009
  10. Wyden gains traction as possible health secretary
  11. Wyden, with new allies, reintroduces ambitious health care bill
  12. Senators Identify Key Components of a Successful Health Care Reform Plan
  13. Ron Wyden from On the Issues
  14. Ron Wyden on Abortion from On the Issues
  17. " Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2001"
  18. Wyden Issues Statement on Administration Proposal to Address Financial Crisis
  19. A look at the Senate auto bailout vote
  20. Congressional Record: Wyden Statement on Auto Bailout Vote
  21. Doubts arise over Obama stimulus plan
  22. [1]
  23. Entry on, created by Robert Battle (
  24. Ron Wyden (Dem) from The Washington Times
General references:

External links

: Results 1980–1994
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
1992 208,028 77% Al Ritter 50,235 19% Blair Bobier Pacific Green 11,413 4% *
1994 Ron Wyden 161,624 73% 43,211 19% Mark Brunelle Independent 13,550 6% Gene Nanni Libertarian 4,164 2% *

*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 1992, minor candidates received 203 votes. In 1994, minor candidates received 273 votes.
{| class="wikitable" style="margin:0.5em ; font-size:95%" |+ [[List of United States Senators from Oregon|Oregon Senator (Class III)]] results: 1992–2004{{cite web |url= |title=Oregon Special Election Official Results |accessdate=2007-12-19 |publisher=Oregon Secretary of State}} !|Year ! !|Democrat !|Votes !|Pct ! !|Republican !|Votes !|Pct ! !|3rd Party !|Party !|Votes !|Pct ! !|3rd Party !|Party !|Votes !|Pct ! !|3rd Party !|Party !|Votes !|Pct ! !|3rd Party !|Party !|Votes !|Pct ! |- |[[U.S. Senate election, 1992|1992]] | |{{Party shading/Democratic}} |[[Les AuCoin]] |{{Party shading/Democratic}} align="right" |639,851 |{{Party shading/Democratic}} |46% | |{{Party shading/Republican}} |{{nowrap|'''[[Bob Packwood]]''' **}} |{{Party shading/Republican}} align="right" |717,455 |{{Party shading/Republican}} |52% | |{{Party shading/Independent}} |Miscellaneous |{{Party shading/Independent}} | |{{Party shading/Independent}} align="right" |12,934 |{{Party shading/Independent}} align="right" |1% | |{{Party shading/Independent}} |[[Write-in candidate|Write-ins]] |{{Party shading/Independent}} | |{{Party shading/Independent}} align="right" |5,793 |{{Party shading/Independent}} align="right" |<1% | | | | | | | | | | | |- |[[United States Senate special election in Oregon, 1996|1996]] | |{{Party shading/Democratic}} |{{nowrap|'''Ron Wyden'''}} |{{Party shading/Democratic}} align="right" |571,739 |{{Party shading/Democratic}} |48% | |{{Party shading/Republican}} |[[Gordon Smith (politician)|Gordon Smith]] |{{Party shading/Republican}} align="right" |553,519 |{{Party shading/Republican}} |47% | |{{Party shading/Independent}} |{{nowrap|Karen E.}} Shilling |{{Party shading/Independent}} |American Independent |{{Party shading/Independent}} align="right" |25,597 |{{Party shading/Independent}} align="right" |2% | |{{Party shading/Libertarian}} |Gene Nanni |{{Party shading/Libertarian}} |[[Libertarian Party (United States)|Libertarian]] |{{Party shading/Libertarian}} align="right" |15,698 |{{Party shading/Libertarian}} align="right" |1% | |{{Party shading/Socialist}} |Vickie Valdez |{{Party shading/Socialist}} |[[Socialist Party USA|Socialist]] |{{Party shading/Socialist}} align="right" |7,872 |{{Party shading/Socialist}} align="right" |1% | |{{Party shading/Green}} |Lou Gold |{{Party shading/Green}} |[[Pacific Green Party|Pacific Green]] |{{Party shading/Green}} align="right" |7,225 |{{Party shading/Green}} align="right" |1% | |- |[[U.S. Senate election, 1998|1998]] | |{{Party shading/Democratic}} |'''Ron Wyden''' |{{Party shading/Democratic}} align="right" |682,425 |{{Party shading/Democratic}} |61% | |{{Party shading/Republican}} |[[John Lim]] |{{Party shading/Republican}} align="right" |377,739 |{{Party shading/Republican}} |34% | |{{Party shading/Green}} |Karyn Moskowitz |{{Party shading/Green}} |[[Pacific Green Party|Pacific Green]] |{{Party shading/Green}} align="right" |22,024 |{{Party shading/Green}} align="right" |2% | |{{Party shading/Libertarian}} |Jim Brewster |{{Party shading/Libertarian}} |[[Libertarian Party (United States)|Libertarian]] |{{Party shading/Libertarian}} align="right" |18,221 |{{Party shading/Libertarian}} align="right" |2% | |{{Party shading/Independent}} |{{nowrap|Michael A.}} Campbell |{{Party shading/Independent}} |[[Natural Law Party (United States)|Natural Law]] |{{Party shading/Independent}} align="right" |8,372 |{{Party shading/Independent}} align="right" |1% | |{{Party shading/Socialist}} |[[Dean M. Braa]] |{{Party shading/Socialist}} |[[Socialist Party USA|Socialist]] |{{Party shading/Socialist}} align="right" |7,553 |{{Party shading/Socialist}} align="right" |1% | |- |[[U.S. Senate election, 2004|2004]] | |{{Party shading/Democratic}} |'''Ron Wyden''' |{{Party shading/Democratic}} align="right" |1,128,728 |{{Party shading/Democratic}} |63% | |{{Party shading/Republican}} |[[Al King]] |{{Party shading/Republican}} align="right" |565,254 |{{Party shading/Republican}} |32% | |{{Party shading/Green}} |Teresa Keane |{{Party shading/Green}} |[[Pacific Green Party|Pacific Green]] |{{Party shading/Green}} align="right" |43,053 |{{Party shading/Green}} align="right" |2% | |{{Party shading/Libertarian}} |Dan Fitzgerald |{{Party shading/Libertarian}} |[[Libertarian Party (United States)|Libertarian]] |{{Party shading/Libertarian}} align="right" |29,582 |{{Party shading/Libertarian}} align="right" |2% | |{{Party shading/ConstitutionUSA}} |David Brownlow |{{Party shading/ConstitutionUSA}} |[[Constitution Party (United States)|Constitution]] |{{Party shading/ConstitutionUSA}} align="right" |12,397 |{{Party shading/ConstitutionUSA}} align="right" |1% | |{{Party shading/Independent}} |[[Write-in candidate|Write-ins]] |{{Party shading/Independent}} | |{{Party shading/Independent}} align="right" |1,536 |{{Party shading/Independent}} align="right" |1% | {{end box}}

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