About the Chairman
Oregonians know Ron as a senator who listens. Always citing the need to “throw open the doors of government,” he holds an open-to-all town hall meeting in each of Oregon’s 36 counties each year. Thus far he has held more than 680 meetings. Wyden’s dedication to hearing all sides of an issue and looking for common sense, non-partisan solutions has won him trust on both sides of the aisle.
Wyden believes the nation’s biggest challenges can only be solved by what he calls “principled bipartisanship,” solutions that allow all parties to stay true to their respective principles while taking the best ideas from all sides. Following that approach has helped him author more than 150 bipartisan bills and assemble unprecedented bipartisan coalitions on key issues such as health care, infrastructure, and tax reform. In 2010, Ron authored the first comprehensive bipartisan tax reform bill in more than 25 years. His plan would lower rates, eliminate loopholes and tax breaks for special interests, and simplify the tax code so that individuals and families can file a one-page tax return.
Wyden has never shied from taking on powerful interest groups and making sure Americans’ voices are heard. His stand against the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) and its predecessor, the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeit Act (COICA), put a spotlight on the problematic legislation being fast tracked through Congress and served as a rallying point for the historic Internet protests that ultimately toppled the bills. He stood on the floor of the Senate to block efforts to overturn Oregon’s Death with Dignity law; a law that Oregon voters have passed twice. He went head-to-head with the E.P.A. to reduce cancer-causing benzene in gasoline sold in Oregon.
Wyden has taken the lead on policies that are helping to grow the economy in areas like improved infrastructure through his Build America Bonds program, micro and nano-technology, e-commerce, and incentives for cleaner sources of energy.
He has won countless awards for his pioneering role in establishing a free and open Internet, is known for his commitment to an open government, having authored the “Stand By Your Ad” law and the resolution ending Senate Secret Holds, and he has been routinely recognized as one of the Senate’s foremost health policy thinkers. Ron is committed to lowering health care costs and providing better care for all Americans and protecting and preserving vital health programs like CHIP, Medicaid, and Medicare.
As former chair of the Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on International Trade, Ron fought to ensure America’s ability to compete in a free and fair global marketplace. His work has exposed lapses in U.S. enforcement of trade laws and he has issued multiple reports illustrating how unfair trade practices are harming U.S. workers and industries. Wyden successfully led Senate efforts to back the United Steelworkers petition to get the Obama Administration to launch a trade case against China for its subsidies in the clean energy technology sector and was the first to call on Obama to establish a national strategy on exports.
Wyden began college at the University of California-Santa Barbara where he won a basketball scholarship and played in Division I competition for two seasons before transferring to Stanford University where he completed his Bachelors degree with distinction. He earned his law degree from the University of Oregon School of Law in 1974, after which he taught gerontology and co-founded the Oregon chapter of the Grey Panthers, an advocacy group for the elderly. He also served as the director of Oregon Legal Services for the Elderly from 1977 to 1979 and was a member of the Oregon State Board of Examiners of Nursing Home Administrators during that same period. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1981 until his election to the U.S. Senate in 1996.
Senator Wyden’s home is in Portland; he is married to Nancy Wyden, whom he wed in September 2005. He has five children: Adam, Lilly, Ava, William and Scarlett.
Education: JD, University of Oregon School of Law; BA, Stanford University
Born: May 3, 1949, Wichita, KS
Family: Wife: Nancy; Children: Adam, Lilly, William Peter, Ava Rose, Scarlett Willa
Elected: January 30, 1996 (special election)