John Yarmuth

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John Yarmuth
John Yarmuth official photo.jpg
Chair of the House Budget Committee
Assumed office
January 3, 2019
Preceded bySteve Womack
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Kentucky's 3rd district
Assumed office
January 3, 2007
Preceded byAnne Northup
Personal details
John Allan Yarmuth

(1947-11-04) November 4, 1947 (age 72)
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic (1985–present)
Other political
Republican (before 1985)
Spouse(s)Catherine Yarmuth
Children1 son
EducationYale University (BA)
Georgetown University

John Allan Yarmuth (born November 4, 1947) is an American politician and former newspaper editor serving as the U.S. Representative for Kentucky's 3rd congressional district since 2007. His district encompasses the vast majority of the Louisville Metro Area. Since 2013, he has been the only Democratic member of Kentucky's congressional delegation.

Yarmuth currently serves as the chairman of the House Budget Committee.[1]

Early life, education and career[edit]

Yarmuth was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of Edna E. (née Klein) and Stanley R. Yarmuth. He is descended from Jewish immigrants from Russia and Austria.[2] He graduated from Atherton High School.[3] He later graduated from Yale University, majoring in American Studies, and attended Georgetown University Law Center.[3]

He worked for Republican U.S. Senator Marlow Cook from 1971 to 1975, then returned to Louisville and launched his publishing career by founding the Louisville Today magazine, which operated from 1976 to 1982. He later worked as a vice-president of University Relations at the University of Louisville.[3]

Publisher and columnist[edit]

In 1990, Yarmuth founded the Louisville Eccentric Observer (LEO), a weekly newspaper for which he wrote a generally progressive political column that was usually featured on the first page. In 2003, Yarmuth sold LEO to a company owned by Times Publishing Company of Pennsylvania, owner of the Erie Times-News. Yarmuth remained on board as a columnist and consultant until January 2006, when he put his column on hiatus to run for Congress.[3]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Yarmuth in May 2011


Yarmuth took office on January 3, 2007. As of 2019, he is serving his seventh term as Congressman.

After his first year in Congress, Yarmuth donated his post-tax congressional salary of just over $120,000 to various charities in Louisville.[4]

On February 8, 2008, Yarmuth endorsed Barack Obama in his successful bid for the Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States.[5]

On September 29, 2008, Yarmuth voted against the TARP bailout plan, as negotiated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, President George W. Bush, House Minority Leader John Boehner, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.[6] However, he did vote in favor of the second version of the bailout bill.[7]

Yarmuth said he was so "nauseated" by a moment of silence for Michael Jackson on the House floor that he left the chamber. "I thought it was outrageous," he said. "In my two and a half years, we've not done this for anybody else. We've done it for former members and that's about it."[8]

After winning a 2008 rematch with Anne Northup, his 2006 general election opponent, Yarmuth was rewarded by the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee with a spot on the influential Ways and Means Committee. On the committee, he worked on issues on which he campaigned before the 2008 general election: Social Security, pension, Medicare, and Medicaid issues.

At a September 2009 town hall meeting, constituents were unhappy with Yarmuth's decision to support the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. "Yarmuth stayed calm in the face of boos and catcalls from some in the audience" according to an Associated Press report. "He warned that the current health care system is an unsustainable drain on businesses and the nation's economy."[9]

In 2011, Yarmuth introduced a bill alongside Republican Congressman Walter Jones that would seek to overturn key parts of the controversial court case Citizens United v. FEC. The legislation would also give Congress the power to enact mandatory public financing for Congressional candidates and create a national holiday for voting purposes.[10]

In 2011, Yarmuth voted against the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 due to a controversial provision which allows the government and the military to indefinitely detain American citizens and others without trial.[11][12]

In 2013, Yarmuth introduced the Fair Elections Now Act, which would establish a public financing system for Congressional campaigns.[13][14]

In 2015, Yarmuth once again made an attempt at removing "dark money" from the political sphere by Proposing HR 2125, the Keeping our Campaigns Honest Act of 2015, however the bill realistically had no chance of passing in the 114th Congress in which it was proposed.[15]

Yarmuth signed onto a "Medicare for All" bill in the House, along with 120 other Democrats in 2018, supporting single-payer healthcare.[16]

Yarmuth is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the only person to represent Kentucky in Congress to join. He is arguably the most progressive person to serve in Congress from Kentucky in either the House or Senate.

Committee assignments[edit]

Party leadership[edit]

  • Regional Whip

Congressional Caucuses[edit]

The following is a list of John Yarmuth's Congressional Caucus memberships:[19]

Political campaigns[edit]


Yarmuth filed candidacy papers on January 31, 2006, to represent Kentucky's 3rd congressional district. Having won the Democratic primary on May 16, defeating Andrew Horne, Burrell Charles Farnsley and James W. Moore, he defeated incumbent Anne Northup (R) in November of that year.

On August 7, 2006, The Courier-Journal reported that The Hill revealed a week before that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had earmarked $51.5 million for television advertising in 32 congressional districts across the nation, but none for Yarmuth's challenge in the Third Congressional District.[23]

On October 20, a Courier-Journal article stated that a WHAS11/SurveyUSA poll revealed the race had tightened dramatically, with Yarmuth leading Northup 48 to 47 percent. Another poll a month earlier had Northup leading by 6 points.[24] A WHAS11/SurveyUSA poll released on November 2 showed Yarmuth leading Northup 52 to 44 percent.[25]

On October 26, Yarmuth told Courier-Journal reporter Kay Stewart that he would donate his congressional salary—which would be $168,500 in 2007—to local charity.[26]

Because polls close early in Kentucky, many analysts saw this race as a key indicator and it immediately became one of the most watched House races in the nation.

In the general election, Yarmuth garnered 122,139 votes (51%) to Northup's 116,157 votes (48%). Independent candidates garnered 2,896 votes (1%).


Yarmuth ran unopposed in the primary, and faced Anne Northup in a rematch of the 2006 general election.[27][28][29]

Yarmuth won the 2008 election with 59% of the vote.[30]


Yarmuth was challenged by Republican Todd Lally and Independent Michael D. Hansen. Yarmuth was re-elected successfully with 53% of the vote.[31]


Yarmuth was challenged by Republican Brooks Wicker and Independent candidate Robert L. Devore Jr. Yarmuth received 206,385 votes (63.96%), Brooks Wicker received 111,452 votes (23.32%), and Robert L. Devore Jr. received 4,819 votes (1.49%).


In the 2014 General Election, Yarmuth was challenged by Republican Dr. Michael McFarlane and Independent Gregory Puccetti. On October 6, 2014, Kentucky Educational Television hosted a debate which was broadcast live on Louisville's KET, and was moderated by KET host Bill Goodman.[32] Yarmuth went on to win reelection with 63.5% of the votes cast.


Yarmuth was challenged by Republican Harold Bratcher and Independent Everett Corley. Yarmuth won with 63% of the vote, receiving 212,388 votes. Harold Bratcher received 37% of the vote, totaling 122,085 ballots cast in his name. Everett Corley received no votes in the election.[33]


On April 17, 2017, Yarmuth announced that he would run for a seventh term in the 2018 election.[34] During the campaign, he lobbied for chairpersonship of the House Budget Committee and promised to hold hearings on Medicare for all.[35] Yarmuth won re-election with over 62% of the vote against Vickie Yates Glisson, Kentucky's former Secretary of Health and Family Services.[36][37]


In 2003, Yarmuth and former WHAS-AM radio talk show host John Ziegler debated political issues on the weekly WAVE program Yarmuth & Ziegler, with Yarmuth taking the liberal side and Ziegler, the conservative side. On a successor program, Hot Button, which ran from September 2004 to December 2005, he faced off with conservative Jim Milliman.

Yarmuth appeared on the March 8, 2007, episode of The Colbert Report in the show's "Better Know a District" series. In a parody of Yarmuth's former Yarmuth & Ziegler debate series, host Stephen Colbert prodded Yarmuth into a point/counterpoint style debate. After agreeing to the "debate," Colbert forced Yarmuth to defend the shredding of kittens in wood chippers, which Yarmuth gamely proceeded to do. Colbert referred to Yarmuth as a real-life Bruce Wayne, and presented him with a framed print of his congressional photo with a Batman mask photoshopped over his face.[38]

Personal life[edit]

Yarmuth has served on many boards including the Bingham Child Guidance Center and Kentucky Country Day School. He is Kentucky's first Jewish congressman. Yarmuth and his wife, Cathy Yarmuth, have one son, Aaron, who is a graduate of Kentucky Country Day. Aaron is currently the owner of the Louisville Eccentric Observer.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Congressman John Yarmuth, Chairman". House Committee on the Budget. December 19, 2013. Retrieved February 12, 2019.
  2. ^ "yarmuth". Retrieved October 11, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d Official House Biography Retrieved July 5, 2012.
  4. ^ "Yarmuth For Congress » Campaign Blog » Yarmuth Donates 2007 Congressional Salary to Louisville Non-Profit Organizations". Archived from the original on April 12, 2008. Retrieved January 19, 2008.
  5. ^ Carroll, James R. (February 9, 2008). "Yarmuth backs Obama in presidental race". Courier Journal. p. B5.
  6. ^ Abdullah, Halimah (September 29, 2008). "Four Congressmen vote No". Lexington Herald Leader. Archived from the original on October 4, 2008.
  7. ^ "Yarmuth Thinks Bailout Bill Stinks, Votes For It Anyway". WHAS-TV. October 3, 2008. Archived from the original on December 2, 2008.
  8. ^ Petchenik, Mike. "Yarmuth 'Nauseated' By Jackson Tribute". Retrieved April 11, 2012.[dead link]
  9. ^ "Yarmuth faces boisterous town hall meeting". WBKO. Archived from the original on November 5, 2013.
  10. ^ Phillip M. Bailey (December 20, 2011). "Yarmuth Introduces Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United Case". Retrieved November 5, 2013.
  11. ^ "NDAA Bill: How Did Your Congress Member Vote?". December 16, 2011. Retrieved October 11, 2012.
  12. ^ "House Vote 291 – Passes the the [sic] National Defense Authorization Act". Inside Congress. The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 22, 2012. Retrieved September 27, 2012.
  13. ^ "Congressman John Yarmuth : Get Money Out of Politics". October 14, 2016. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
  14. ^ "Congressman John Yarmuth : Press : Rep. Yarmuth Introduces Public Financing Bill to Get Money Out of Politics". January 16, 2013. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
  15. ^ "Keeping Our Campaigns Honest Act of 2015 (H.R. 2125)". Retrieved December 23, 2016.
  16. ^ Sullivan, Peter (February 25, 2018). "Democrats march toward single-payer health care". The Hill. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
  17. ^ "Congressman John Yarmuth : Committees". October 15, 2016. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
  18. ^ "John Yarmuth, Representative for Kentucky's 3rd Congressional District". Retrieved December 23, 2016.
  19. ^ "Elected Official Detail Page". Municipal Association of South Carolina. Retrieved December 23, 2016.
  20. ^ "Membership". Congressional Arts Caucus. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  21. ^ "Caucus Members". Congressional Progressive Caucus. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  22. ^ "90 Current Climate Solutions Caucus Members". Citizen´s Climate Lobby. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
  23. ^ Stewart, Kay (August 7, 2006). "National Democratic campaign doesn't plan ads for Yarmuth". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved September 1, 2006.
  24. ^ Stewart, Kay (October 20, 2006). "Poll: Northup, Yarmuth race in dead heat". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved November 9, 2006.
  25. ^ Hebert, Mark (November 2, 2006). "Yarmuth ahead in new poll". Archived from the original on February 11, 2007. Retrieved November 9, 2006.
  26. ^ Stewart, Kay (October 26, 2006). "Northup attacks Yarmuth's Wealth – Hypocrisy?". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved January 2, 2008.
  27. ^ Gerth, Joe (January 16, 2008). "Roberts probably out, Northup considers return". The Courier-Journal. Archived from the original on July 29, 2012.
  28. ^ Schreiner, Bruce (January 28, 2008). "Northup to run to regain former congressional seat, adviser says". Associated Press. Archived from the original on January 20, 2019.
  29. ^ "Northup Files To Run For Old Congressional Seat". Internet Broadcasting Systems, Inc. January 28, 2008. Archived from the original on July 17, 2011. Retrieved April 20, 2009.
  30. ^ "2008 General Election Results". CNN. November 5, 2008.
  31. ^ "John Yarmuth wins Kentucky 3rd District". WDRB. November 2, 2010. Retrieved November 2, 2010.
  32. ^ "Yarmuth and MacFarlane debate on KET". the Courier Journal. October 6, 2014. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
  33. ^ "Live Results : 2016 KENTUCKY HOUSE ELECTION RESULTS". Retrieved November 12, 2016.
  34. ^ "Congressman John Yarmuth Running for reelection in 2018". Retrieved April 18, 2017.
  35. ^ Costello, Darcy. "courier journal". Retrieved November 14, 2018.
  36. ^ "Kentucky's 3rd Congressional District election, 2018". Retrieved November 13, 2018.
  37. ^ "Vickie Yates Glisson". Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  38. ^ Carroll, James R. (March 9, 2007). "Yarmuth jokes on the 'Colbert Report'". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved March 9, 2007.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Anne Northup
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Kentucky's 3rd congressional district

Preceded by
Steve Womack
Chair of the House Budget Committee
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Peter Welch
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Bob Latta