A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

30 years in Congress: Still plugging away

Written August 15th, 2016 by Hasso Hering
Rep. Peter DeFazio makes a point about China during his town hall meeting Monday in Albany.

Rep. Peter DeFazio makes a point about China during his town hall meeting Monday in Albany.,

Monday afternoon didn’t promise any greater excitement elsewhere, so why not take in a public “town hall” meeting put on by Congressman Peter DeFazio, the Democrat who has represented Oregon’s 4th District since way before anybody worried about global warming. So I went.

I joined more than 60 others, and we took up nearly all the available seats set aside for the public in the council chambers at City Hall. For just about an hour we listened to DeFazio talk on his favorite subjects and field softball questions about the price of insurance, health care, guns, terrorism and other things.

DeFazio has been in the U.S. House since his first election in 1986, and now he’s running for his 16th two-year term. At 69, he doesn’t look any different from the first time I saw him 30 years ago: Still as wiry and fit as ever. As a Democrat, he’s been in the majority part of the time and in the minority the rest of the time, including the last few years.

For as long as I can remember, the congressman has been opposed to NAFTA and other so-called free-trade agreements between the United States and other countries. Now he and others are hoping to derail the Trans Pacific Partnership, President Obama’s proposed trade arrangement with Vietnam and other Asian countries. DeFazio says it’s the worst and also, if approved, the last of these agreements to come before Congress. If I understood him right, he thinks it will be the last because it calls for any further trade deals to be approved without Congress having a say.

Promoters of these trade deals, DeFazio says, promise greater U.S. exports and more American jobs, but so far the opposite has been the result. In his adamant opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership or TPP, DeFazio position is the same as Donald Trump, though nobody at the town hall pointed it out as far as I could hear.

He came with charts. One showed imports from China surging since 2001 and costing the U.S. 3.2 million jobs. China now owns so much wealth in money and assets that it has become, in DeFazio’s view, a national security concern to the United States.

DeFazio’s other visual aid was a map showing America’s most dangerous bridges. He serves on the House subcommittee dealing with federal transportation infrastructure and once was its chairman. He’s been trying to get the federal gas tax raised from its current 18.4 cents a gallon to raise money for more highway work, but he has yet to reach that goal.

DeFazio keeps hammering away at the same themes, including levying a small tax on security trades and getting the Social Security payroll tax to be collected on incomes higher than $118,500 this year. And as long as he keeps being re-elected, which is probably as long as he keeps running, maybe he’ll get what he wants one of these years. (hh)

The congressman fields questions during his Albany town hall Monday.

The congressman fields questions during his Albany town hall Monday.


14 responses to “30 years in Congress: Still plugging away”

  1. Jacobin Hanschlatter says:

    As long as the GOP keeps proffering idiots like Art Robinson and Jo Rae Perkins to the voters, DeFazio will be able to win his seat even after he’s dead.

  2. Tony White says:

    32 years is far too long for any politician. We need new blood in Congress.

    • centrist says:

      Perhaps. Unless there’s a viable opponent, incumbents get re-elected

    • Jacobin Hanschlatter says:

      While you may be right that 32-years is too long, first and foremost the opposition has to offer up a candidate who is not a whack job, not a crazy, not a total fringe boob spouting gibberish such as in the last two Congressional campaigns where we were forced to watch Jo Rae Perkins and Art Robinson, a Confederacy of Dunces, as they repeatedly shot themselves in the foot, not unlike the current GOP Presidential candidate – a genuine buffoon unworthy of that to which he pretends.

  3. Jim Engel says:

    Damn, I guess I’m in a minority on this blog that thinks he’s doing OK. I had (5) kids & couldn’t please them all the time so I suppose Mr D has the same problem with his few thousand constituents…JE

  4. Jacobin Hanschlatter says:

    DeFazio has done a great job. The way things are going for the November general election, Trump may even drag down-ballot so far as to cause the GOP to lose the House. With his seniority, DeFazio would have a nice pick of assignments.

    Had the citizens of the 4th elected one of the two GOP Bozos (Jo Rae Perkins & Art Robinson) it is difficult to see how anything might be accomplished.

    Because the 4th Congressional seat really is a small fish in the huge DC pond, DeFazio might do well to retire from congress, take his HUGE federal pension, and run against one of the Reactionary-Types on the County Commission. Perhaps DeFazio could get the County Comms off their duffs.

  5. Bob Woods says:

    All the signs point to this November becoming a seminal election.

    Like it or not Clinton is poised to win. The US Senate will likely turn to the Democrats. The US House is a developing question, that wasn’t supposed to be in play at all.

    The real question for local politicians is will they adapt to a new reality of Republican Conservatism dying its death. The City Council has little to fear and much to gain. But the Linn County Commissioners have chosen the politics of right-wing revolution and confrontation.

    Darwin had it right in the natural world, and it carries to the political world: Adapt to changing conditions, or be consigned to the dustbin of History.

    The “Nyquist Gang” would rather die than accept inevitable change.

  6. Warren Beeson says:

    I am unaware of any significant accomplishments that DeFazio has achieved in his 32 years as a professional politician. Would like to see a summary listing so I could appreciate his service. I suspect it is more likely that he just keeps his head down, votes the party line, and the Eugene Greenies keep re-electing him. He talks a good game to the locals when he shows up in the home state but appears to be basically a nonentity in the larger scheme of things back in D.C. Given the makeup of his district constituency it is highly unlikely any Republican could ever unseat him.

    • centrist says:

      Be happy that he chose to represent his constituents. LBJ did that for a while, then “graduated” to the Senate. We know how that turned out

  7. Bill Kapaun says:

    DeFazio has been pulling a big scam his whole career.
    He’ll vote against his party when his vote doesn’t matter.
    When it’s time time for a close vote, he follows the Socialist/Demo party line.
    Then he gets to tell people he represents “both sides”.

    • Shawn Dawson says:

      So the complaint is that he does not vote the Democratic party line 100% of the time? That he bases his votes on his constituency, Oregon needs and values, rather than just accepting all that the Democratic party tells him?

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      “DeFazio has been pulling a big scam his whole career.”

      Ya – You bet. That’s why he keeps getting elected time-after-time-after-time……


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