Peter DeFazio

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Peter DeFazio
Peter DeFazio official photo.jpg
Chair of the House Transportation Committee
Assumed office
January 3, 2019
Preceded byBill Shuster
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oregon's 4th district
Assumed office
January 3, 1987
Preceded byJim Weaver
Personal details
Peter Anthony DeFazio

(1947-05-27) May 27, 1947 (age 73)
Needham, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Myrnie Daut
EducationTufts University (BA)
University of Oregon (MA)
WebsiteHouse website
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Air Force
Years of service1967–1971
UnitAir Force Reserve Command

Peter Anthony DeFazio (/dɪˈfɑːzi/; born May 27, 1947) is the U.S. Representative for Oregon's 4th congressional district, serving since 1987. He is a member of the Democratic Party. The district includes Eugene, Springfield, Corvallis, Roseburg, Coos Bay and Florence. He chairs the House Transportation Committee and is a founder of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. A native of Massachusetts and a veteran of the United States Air Force Reserve, he previously served as a county commissioner in Lane County, Oregon. He is dean of Oregon's House delegation.

Early life, education, and pre-congressional career[edit]

DeFazio was born in 1947 in Needham, Massachusetts,[1] a suburb of Boston.[1] He served in the United States Air Force Reserve from 1967 to 1971.[2] He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Tufts University in 1969[1] and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Oregon in 1977.[1]

From 1977 to 1982, DeFazio worked as an aide to U.S. Representative Jim Weaver.[1] He was elected as a Lane County Commissioner in 1983 and served as chairman from 1985 to 1986.[1]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]


DeFazio in 1997

In 1986, DeFazio ran for the U.S. House from Oregon's 4th congressional district, upon the retirement of incumbent Democratic congressman Jim Weaver.[1] DeFazio narrowly won a competitive three-way primary against State Senators Bill Bradbury and Margie Hendriksen, 34%–33%-31%.[3] He won the general election with 54% of the vote.[4]

DeFazio did not face another contest nearly that close until 2010, winning every election before then with at least 61% of the vote.[5] He forged a nearly unbreakable hold on a district that is only marginally Democratic on paper, due almost entirely to the presence of Lane County, which has almost half the district's population. The district narrowly voted for George W. Bush in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004 and supported Hillary Clinton by only 0.1 percentage point in 2016. In 2020, DeFazio defeated Alek Skarlatos by over 25,000 votes (5.4%). Pacific Green candidate Daniel Hoffay finished third with 2.2% of the vote.[6]


DeFazio won 82% of the vote over two minor-party candidates.

Earlier, he reportedly considered and reconsidered running against Gordon H. Smith in the 2008 Senate election.[7][8][9] On April 20, 2007, DeFazio announced he would not run for Smith's seat.[10]

After Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, it was reported that DeFazio was under consideration for Secretary of Transportation.[11] U.S. Representative Ray LaHood was named to the post in December 2008.


In 2010, DeFazio was challenged by Republican Art Robinson and Pacific Green candidate Michael Beilstein. As permitted by Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, a Super PAC group called The Concerned Taxpayers of America paid $300,000 for ads attacking DeFazio. It was not revealed until the mid-October 2010 quarterly FEC filings that the group was solely funded by Daniel G. Schuster Inc., a concrete firm in Owings Mills, Maryland, and New York hedge fund executive Robert Mercer, the co-head of Renaissance Technologies of Setauket, New York. According to Dan Eggen at The Washington Post, the group said "it was formed in September 'to engage citizens from every walk of life and political affiliation' in the fight against 'runaway spending.'" The only expenditures were for the ads attacking DeFazio and Democratic Representative Frank Kratovil of Maryland.[12][13][14][15]

DeFazio won with 54.5% of the vote, his lowest winning percentage since he was first elected in 1986.[16] The Oregonian said that DeFazio's reelection to his 13th term was notable more for the amount of outside money spent on the campaign than for the candidates themselves.[17]


In September 2011, the National Journal cited DeFazio as an example of "swing-district Democrats seeking reelection in 2012", and who, in "begin[ning] to focus on their reelection bids after Labor Day...are increasingly calculating how close is too close to an unpopular President Obama." It also noted that DeFazio's district "nearly went for Republican George W. Bush in 2004."[18]

Redistricting made the 4th slightly friendlier for DeFazio. He picked up almost all of Benton County, including all of Corvallis, home to Oregon State University.


DeFazio faced a challenge in 2020 from Alek Skarlatos, a former U.S. Marine and hero of the 2015 Thalys train attack. DeFazio won the election by 5.3 points, his narrowest victory since taking office.[19]


Peter DeFazio

DeFazio has a progressive voting record. In 1992, he co-founded the Congressional Progressive Caucus with Bernie Sanders, Ron Dellums, Lane Evans, Thomas Andrews, and Maxine Waters,[20] and was its chair from 2003 to 2005.

During the 1999 World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle, DeFazio marched with protesters who opposed the WTO's new economic globalization policies.[21]

Political positions[edit]


In October 2011, DeFazio demanded that the U.S. Department of Labor strengthen restrictions on the hiring of foreign guest workers for forestry jobs intended for unemployed U.S. citizens. "Over the past year it has come to light that several contractors exploited loopholes in the H-2B visa process to intentionally hire foreign workers, rather than available Americans, for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act-funded jobs on Forest Service lands in Oregon. This is unacceptable", DeFazio wrote to the Secretary of Labor. "Taxpayer money was spent to hire foreign workers while unemployed Oregonians were denied these jobs. The Department of Labor owes it to the American taxpayer and the over 13 million unemployed Americans to make sure this can never occur again."[22]

DeFazio issued a statement condemning President Trump's January 2017 executive order restricting visits to the U.S. from certain Muslim countries. "President Trump's ill-conceived and unlawful executive order uses false rhetoric and preys upon Americans' fears without doing anything to address the real terrorist threats facing our nation", DeFazio said. "Instead, it sends a dangerous message that Muslims are not welcome in America, alienates our allies, and serves as a recruiting tool for ISIS and other terrorists groups. This irresponsible action puts our nation at risk and stands in opposition to the ideals that our country was founded upon."[23]

In January 2018, DeFazio's guest for the State of the Union Address was Jesus Narvaez, a "Dreamer", DACA activist, and member of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán (MEChA).[24]

In June 2018, DeFazio and other members of Congress from Oregon demanded that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) permit individuals held at a federal prison in Sheridan, Oregon, under the Trump administration’s "zero-tolerance policy" to make free telephone calls to arrange legal representation.[25][26]


DeFazio is strongly pro-choice, earning a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood in 2010.[27][28]


DeFazio has shown a propensity to vote against legislation that would increase U.S. military power. In 2000, he voted against legislation to create a national missile defense network, calling the system a "comic book fantasy".[29] He has consistently voted against the Patriot Act, including its inception after 9/11 and the recurring reauthorization bills, arguing that it infringes on Americans' civil rights.[30] He also voted against the USA Freedom Act,[31] which reauthorized certain provisions of the Patriot Act in modified form. He voted multiple times to set an itinerary for bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq.[32]

Israel and Palestine[edit]

DeFazio voted against the 2006 Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act, which banned U.S. aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian government "until it renounces violence, recognizes Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, and accepts all previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements". The bill won the support of 361 House members and passed by unanimous consent in the Senate.[33][34]

In 2015, DeFazio was one of 19 members of Congress to sign a letter urging Secretary of State John Kerry to "prioritize the human rights of Palestinian children living in the Occupied West Bank in the bilateral relationship with the Government of Israel." The letter called Israel's treatment of Palestinian children "cruel, inhumane and degrading" and an "anomaly in the world".[35][36] In 2017, he was one of 10 members of Congress to introduce a bill that would “require the Secretary of State to certify that United States funds do not support military detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill-treatment of Palestinian children". DeFazio and his co-sponsors said, "The Israeli military detains around 500 to 700 Palestinian children between the ages of 12 and 17 each year and prosecutes them before a military court system that lacks basic and fundamental guarantees of due process, in violation of international standards."[37]


In 2008, DeFazio and Representative Pete Stark signed a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi proposing a 0.25% transaction tax on all trades in financial instruments, including stocks, options, and futures. Subsequently, DeFazio introduced the "No BAILOUT Act."[38][39]

Somewhat controversially, DeFazio declined to support the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, voting against it on February 13, 2009. He was one of only seven Democratic House members to vote against the bill.[40][41] DeFazio said that his vote was due to his frustration over compromises made to win support from moderate Republicans in the Senate. "I couldn't justify borrowing money for tax cuts", he said, referring to a bipartisan group's decision to cut funding for education and infrastructure initiatives he had supported in favor of steeper tax reductions.[42] He also advocated that the U.S. Senate change its cloture rules, doing away with the filibuster.[43]

Speaking to the press after the exchange, DeFazio said that he was honored that Obama recognized him and the issues that mattered to his constituents.[44]

DeFazio made headlines in mid-November 2009 when he suggested in an interview with MSNBC commentator Ed Schultz that 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", DeFazio said.[45] The comment made top headlines at The Huffington Post.[46] DeFazio also suggested that a formal call by the Congressional Progressive Caucus for Geithner and Summers to be removed might be forthcoming. A year later he called for the impeachment of Chief Justice John Roberts because of the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

In 2009, DeFazio proposed a financial transaction tax.[47]

During his tenure, DeFazio has butted heads with fellow Democratic politicians, including Obama, on key Democratic legislation. In December 2010, he told CNN that the White House was "putting on tremendous pressure" about legislation extending the Bush tax cuts, with Obama "making phone calls saying this is the end of his presidency if he doesn't get this bad deal." White House spokesman Tommy Vietor told The Hill that Obama hadn't "said anything remotely like that" and had "never spoken with Mr. DeFazio about the issue".[48]

In November 2010, DeFazio called on Obama to fire Summers and Geithner for being too friendly to Wall Street.[49]

Occupy Wall Street[edit]

In August 2011, DeFazio said that Obama lacked the fight to follow through on ending the Bush tax cuts, citing the pressure placed on him by the Republicans.[50] DeFazio, Representative Dennis Kucinich and Senator Bernie Sanders said that it would be good for the Democratic Party if Obama faced a meaningful primary in which all the issues would be aired out.[51]

In October 2011, Think Progress noted that DeFazio, "Echoing the demands of the Occupy Wall Street protesters, proposing to tax the trading of stocks, bonds, and derivatives. DeFazio, along with his Senate co-sponsor Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), has proposed the tax several times in the past. But this time around, the idea is getting a boost of momentum from the popularity of a similar measure in Europe, as well as renewed national media focus on Wall Street profiteering as a result of the 99 Percent Movement."[52]

Fuel prices[edit]

DeFazio opposed the Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America That Works Act of 2014 (H.R. 4899; 113th Congress), a bill that would revise existing laws and policies regarding the development of oil and gas resources on the Outer Continental Shelf.[53] The bill was intended to increase domestic energy production and lower gas prices.[54][55] DeFazio argued that the bill would not solve the true cause of high gas prices, which he blamed on "Big Oil in the United States and speculation on Wall Street".[54] DeFazio called the bill the "drill everywhere" bill.[55]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Legislation sponsored[edit]

The following is an incomplete list of legislation that DeFazio has sponsored:

U.S. Senate elections[edit]

DeFazio during the 109th Congress


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.[63]


DeFazio had been mentioned as a possible candidate for the seat of Senator Mark Hatfield, who announced after the special primary election that he would not seek reelection in 1996. Faced with the prospect of having to take on well-funded millionaires in both the primary and general election, DeFazio announced in February 1996 that he would not run.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

DeFazio is a member of the Roman Catholic Church. He and his wife, Myrnie L. Daut,[2] reside in Springfield.

Electoral history[edit]

Oregon's 4th congressional district: Results 1986–2018[64]
Year Democratic Votes % Republican Votes % Third Party Party Votes % Third Party Party Votes % Other %
1986 Peter DeFazio 105,697 54% Bruce Long 89,795 46% 56 0%
1988 Peter DeFazio 108,483 72% Jim Howard 42,220 28% 32 0%
1990 Peter DeFazio 162,494 86% No candidate Tonie Nathan Libertarian 26,432 14% 426 0%
1992 Peter DeFazio 199,372 71% Richard Schulz 79,733 29% 194 0%
1994 Peter DeFazio 158,981 67% John Newkirk 78,947 33% 273 0%
1996 Peter DeFazio 177,270 66% John Newkirk 76,649 28% Tonie Nathan Libertarian 4,919 2% Bill Bonville Reform 3,960 1% 7,058 3%
1998 Peter DeFazio 157,524 70% Steve Webb 64,143 29% Karl Sorg Socialist 2,694 1% 276 0%
2000 Peter DeFazio 197,998 68% John Lindsey 41,909 31% David Duemler Socialist 3,696 1% 421 0%
2002 Peter DeFazio 168,150 64% Liz VanLeeuwen 90,523 34% Chris Bigelow Libertarian 4,602 2% 206 0%
2004 Peter DeFazio 228,611 61% Jim Feldkamp 140,882 38% Jacob Boone Libertarian 3,190 1% Michael Marsh Constitution 1,799 0% 427 0%
2006 Peter DeFazio 180,607 62% Jim Feldkamp 109,105 38% 532 0%
2008 Peter DeFazio 275,133 82% No candidate Jaynee Germond Constitution 43,133 13% Mike Beilstein Pacific Green 13,162 4% 2,708 1%
2010 Peter DeFazio 162,416 54% Art Robinson 129,877 44% Mike Beilstein Pacific Green 5,215 2% 524 0%
2012 Peter DeFazio 212,866 59% Art Robinson 140,549 39% Chuck Huntting Libertarian 6,205 2% 468 0%
2014 Peter DeFazio 181,624 59% Art Robinson 116,534 38% Mike Beilstein Pacific Green 6,863 2% David L. Chester Libertarian 4,676 2% 482 0%
2016 Peter DeFazio 220,628 55% Art Robinson 157,743 40% Mike Beilstein Pacific Green 12,194 3% Gil Guthrie Libertarian 6,527 2% 476 0%
2018 Peter DeFazio 208,710 56% Art Robinson 152,414 41% Mike Beilstein Pacific Green 5,956 2% Richard Jacobson Libertarian 5,370 1% 443 0%
2020 Peter DeFazio 240,950 51.5% Alek Skarlatos 216,018 46.2% Daniel Hoffay Pacific Green 10,118 2.2%

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g DeFazio's biography in the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  2. ^ a b "DeFazio's profile". Archived from the original on 7 January 2007. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Our Campaigns – OR District 4 – D Primary Race – May 20, 1986". Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  4. ^ "Our Campaigns – OR District 4 Race – Nov 04, 1986". Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  5. ^ "Our Campaigns – Candidate – Peter A. DeFazio". Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  6. ^ Oregon Election Results: Fourth Congressional District. New York Times, November 12, 2020. Retrieved November 12, 2020.
  7. ^ Blake, Aaron (January 4, 2007). "Rep. DeFazio pulls name from 2008 Senate-bid speculations". The Hill. Washington, D.C. Retrieved 2007-03-12.
  8. ^ "OR-Sen: DeFazio beats Smith – DSCC poll". Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  9. ^ Dietz, Diane (April 3, 2007). "DeFazio ponders U.S. Senate run". Eugene Register-Guard. Retrieved 2007-04-03.
  10. ^ "DeFazio will not run for Senate". April 20, 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-20.
  11. ^ "Transportation's Obama Factor".
  12. ^ Karen Tumulty (September 25, 2010). "DeFazio tries to find out who is behind mysterious attack ads". The Washington Post.
  13. ^ Wealthy financier is mysterious funder of ads attacking DeFazio, Jeff Mapes, The Oregonian, October 15, 2010
  14. ^ Concerned Taxpayers group is powered by only two donors, Dan Eggen, The Washington Post, October 17, 2010
  15. ^ Scott Patterson and Jenny Strasburg (March 16, 2010). "Pioneering Fund Stages Second Act". The Wall Street Journal.
  16. ^ "Our Campaigns – OR – District 04 Race – Nov 02, 2010". Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  17. ^ Charles Pope (November 2, 2010). "DeFazio overcomes Republican, outside money to win 13th term". The Oregonian. Retrieved March 30, access
  18. ^ Alex Roarty and Beth Reinhard (1 September 2011). "Democrats Distancing Themselves From Obama". National Journal. Archived from the original on 26 May 2012. Retrieved 30 May 2012.
  19. ^ "Peter DeFazio". Ballotpedia.
  20. ^ "Caucus Members". Congressional Progressive Caucus. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  21. ^ McINTOSH, DON. "Labor rally opens America's eyes to WTO". Labor Press. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
  22. ^ Pope, Charles. "Rep. Peter DeFazio demands tighter rules, tougher oversight of foreign worker program". The Oregonian. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  23. ^ "Ron Wyden, Jeff Merkley, others condemn Donald Trump refugee, immigration orders". The Oregonian. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  24. ^ Baker, Diana. "DACA activist brings Dream to DC". The Torch. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  26. ^ "FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL5075". Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  27. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-10-31. Retrieved 2011-07-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  28. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2011-07-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  29. ^ "US Unfazed By Putin Comments On ABM". Space Daily. July 18, 2000. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  30. ^ David Sarasohn (February 10, 2011). "On Patriot Act, Congress lifts its own gag order". The Oregonion. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  31. ^ "FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 224". Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  32. ^ "Oregon Lawmakers Sound Off on President's New Plan For Iraq". Salem News. Jan 11, 2007. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  34. ^ "H.R.4681 – Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006". Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  35. ^ Abunimah, Ali. "US Congress members demand end to Israel's "cruel" abuses of Palestinian children". The Electronic Intifada. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  36. ^ Bery, Sunjeev. "Did your Member of Congress Stand Up for Palestinian Children?". Amnesty International. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  37. ^ Tibon, Amir. "Democrats Push Bill to Block U.S. Aid to Israel From Being Used to Detain Palestinian Minors". Haaretz. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  38. ^ Nichols, John (30 September 2008). "The "No BAILOUTS Act"". The Nation. Retrieved 20 June 2008.
  39. ^ Hayes, Christopher (30 Sep 2008). "House Progressives Propose Bailout Alternative". The Nation. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  40. ^ "FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 070". Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  41. ^ "Page not found – TIME". Retrieved 17 April 2018. Cite uses generic title (help)
  42. ^ "The Progressive Gadfly: DeFazio Explains His 'No' on Stimulus". Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  43. ^ Chu, Keith (February 11, 2009). "Education funds worth fighting for, say Oregon Democrats". The Bend Bulletin.
  44. ^ Mapes, Jeff (March 31, 2009). "DeFazio gets Obama jibe on stimulus vote". The Oregonian.
  45. ^ Stein, Sam (November 18, 2009). "Rep. DeFazio: Fire 'Timmy' Geithner". The Huffington Post and MSNBC.
  46. ^ "The Huffington Post". November 19, 2009.
  47. ^ Charles Pope (December 2009). "DeFazio calls for tax on financial transactions but critics abound". The Oregonian, Retrieved 2010-01-04.
  48. ^ Jordan Fabian (December 15, 2010). "Obama tells lawmakers not passing tax deal could end presidency, Dem says". The Hill. Washington, D.C. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
  49. ^ Stein, Sam. "Rep. DeFazio: Fire 'Timmy' Geithner". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  50. ^ Pat Dooris (19 August 2011). "DeFazio says Obama lacks will to fight, may lose Oregon". Channel 8 News, Portland Oregon. Archived from the original on 28 May 2012. Retrieved 30 May 2012.
  51. ^ John Nichols (January 12, 2012). "New Hampshire Results Point to a Notable Democratic Enthusiasm Gap". Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  52. ^ Marie Diamond (Oct 5, 2011). "Calling Wall Street A 'Gambling Casino,' Democratic Rep. DeFazio Proposes Financial Transactions Tax". Think Progress. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
  53. ^ "CBO – H.R. 4899" (PDF). Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved 26 June 2014.
  54. ^ a b Marcos, Cristina (26 June 2014). "House passes bill to increase offshore energy projects". The Hill. Retrieved 26 June 2014.
  55. ^ a b Graeber, Daniel J. (27 June 2014). "House measure on gas aimed at lower prices". UPI. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  56. ^ "Rep. DeFazio Elected Chairman of House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee". 2019-01-04. Archived from the original on 2019-02-27.
  57. ^ "Membership". Congressional Arts Caucus. Archived from the original on 2018-06-12. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  58. ^ "Members". Congressional NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  59. ^ "Caucus Members". Congressional Progressive Caucus. Retrieved 2021-03-29.
  60. ^ "Our Members". U.S. House of Representatives International Conservation Caucus. Archived from the original on 2018-08-01. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  61. ^ "Members of the Veterinary Medicine Caucus". Veterinary Medicine Caucus. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  62. ^ "Caucus Membership". U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved January 6, 2012.
  63. ^ "1995 Senatorial Special Election Results – Oregon". 5 Jan 2007. Retrieved June 21, 2014.
  64. ^ "Election Statistics, 1920 to Present". History, Art and Archives United States House of Representatives. United States House of Representatives Office of the Historian. Retrieved March 25, 2019.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jim Weaver
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oregon's 4th congressional district

Preceded by
Bill Shuster
Chair of the House Transportation Committee
Party political offices
Preceded by
Dennis Kucinich
Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus
Succeeded by
Barbara Lee
Lynn Woolsey
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Marcy Kaptur
United States representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Fred Upton