Senator from Oregon
In serving Oregon in the United States Senate, Ron Wyden pursues creative, bipartisan solutions to tough issues, offers unprecedented accessibility to his constituents, and stands up for Oregonians no matter the odds.
Creative, Bipartisan Solutions
Ron Wyden constantly reaches across the aisle to build coalitions on important issues. He works closely with Oregon’s junior Senator, Gordon Smith, on many issues and at the beginning of each Congress the two produce a bipartisan agenda for their state.
In the areas of health care, technology, natural resources and other areas, Ron Wyden has produced important results.
Since his days as co-director of the Oregon Gray Panthers, Ron Wyden has been a respected voice on health care. In 2003, he authored the bipartisan Health Care that Works for All Americans law, which is being implemented in 2005 and 2006 to do what’s never been done before: walk the American people through the tough choices of health care and reform the system through public input and political accountability. He authored the first law to protect seniors from unscrupulous Medicare insurance scams and exposed the tobacco companies for hiding the addictiveness of nicotine. His bipartisan legislation reformed the community health center law to make vital health services available to thousands of poor families at no additional cost to taxpayers, and increased Medicare reimbursement to states like Oregon, which the federal government has shortchanged for keeping their health costs down. To help women fighting cancer, Wyden exposed and eliminated waste in the case of the Pacific yew, a so-called “trash tree” that became the original source of the breakthrough pharmaceutical Taxol.
Widely recognized as an expert on technology policy, the senator passed bipartisan laws prohibiting discriminatory taxes on Internet commerce and promoting the use of digital signatures. The Senator was selected for the American Electronics Association Legislator Hall of Fame and was named 2000 Legislator of the Year by the Information Technology Council.
In the natural resources field, Ron Wyden wrote with Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho) what has become known as the County Payments Bill, legislation that the Forest Service considers “the most influential law to come along in three decades.” The statute provides stable funding for rural schools and roads historically dependent on funds derived from the harvest of timber on federal lands.
Standing Up for Oregon
On behalf of Oregonians, Ron Wyden has taken on tough fights without regard for the power of the opponent. For example, standing alone, Senator Wyden has kept the leadership of the U.S. Senate from overturning Oregon’s twice-passed ballot measure legalizing physician-assisted suicide.
He shares the passion of Oregonians for protecting our environmental treasures, and as a young congressman his proposal blocked James Watt’s plan to roll back Clean Air Act protections. In the Senate, Wyden protected Oregon’s Bull Run Watershed, greatly expanded wilderness protection in the bipartisan Steens Mountain legislation, and led the fight to stop logging in Eagle Creek.
A longtime consumer advocate, Wyden is taking on oil companies that have pushed Oregon gas prices among the highest in our nation. He uncovered evidence of several anti-competitive oil industry practices, and the Federal Trade Commission relied on the senator’s inquiry to open its own investigation. For his leadership, Wyden was awarded the Philip Hart Public Service Award in 1999 by the Consumer Federation of America.
As a candidate for the U.S. Senate, Ron Wyden pledged to make accessibility to his constituents the top priority. After his election, he opened the first U.S. Senate offices in Oregon history outside the populous Willamette Valley. Every year, he holds open community meetings in each of Oregon's 36 counties. He frequently holds “sidewalk office hours” in shopping malls and other public venues for Oregonians who want to express their opinions one-to-one.
Ron Wyden holds the Senate seat once held by his mentor, the late Wayne Morse. In the Senate, he serves on the following Committees: Finance, Select Intelligence, Budget, the Special Committee on Aging and Energy and Natural Resources. In addition, Sen. Wyden serves on the Forest and Public Land Management and Science, Technology and Space subcommittees.
Before his election to the Senate in 1996, he served 15 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. The senator attended the University of California at Santa Barbara on a basketball scholarship before receiving his B.A. with distinction from Stanford University. He received a J.D. degree from the University of Oregon School of Law and taught gerontology at several Oregon universities. Sen. Wyden’s home is in Portland; he is married to Nancy Bass, whom he wed in September 2005. He has two children: Adam, 21, and Lilly, 16.