Ron Wyden

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Ron Wyden


Ron Wyden is a Democratic member of the United States Senate, representing Oregon, since 1996.

In the U.S. Senate, Senator Wyden serves on the following committees: Finance, Intelligence, Aging, Budget, and Energy and Natural Resources. On the Energy Committee, he chairs the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests. On the Finance Committee, Wyden chairs the Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs and Global Competitiveness.

Background

Born in 1949 in Wichita, Kansas, Senator Wyden attended the University of California at Santa Barbara on a basketball scholarship. He later earned a B.A degree with distinction from Stanford University and received a J.D. degree from the University of Oregon School of Law in 1974. Following law school, he taught gerontology and co-founded the Oregon chapter of the Gray Panthers, an advocacy group for the elderly. He also served as the director of the Oregon Legal Services for the Elderly from 1977 to 1979 and as a member of the Oregon State Board of Examiners of Nursing Home Administrators during that same time period.

Since his days as co-director of the Oregon Gray Panthers, Senator Wyden has been one of the nation's leading voices on health care. He authored the first federal law to protect seniors from unscrupulous Medicare insurance scams, and during a 1994 congressional hearing, Wyden's tough questioning exposed the tobacco industry's willingness to lie about the addictiveness of their products.

Senator Wyden's home is in Portland. He is married to Nancy Wyden, whom he wed in September 2005.[1]

Politics

Ron Wyden was first elected to Congress in 1980 to represent Oregon's 3rd District. In 1996, he was elected to the U.S. Senate in a special election, becoming the first U.S. Senator to be elected in a vote-by-mail election. He was sworn in on February 5, 1996, to the seat once held by his mentor, U.S. Senator Wayne Morse. Elected to his second full term in 2004, Senator Wyden received more votes over 1.1 million than any other candidate for office in Oregon's history. He was re-elected in 2010.[2]

Endorsed Portland Central America Solidarity Committee

The Portland Central America Solidarity Committee (formerly Portland Nicaragua Solidarity Network was an affiliate of Nicaragua Network, CISPES and NISGUA). Diane Hess, a PCASC leader co-ordinated a 1982 Multnomah County ballot initiative asking whether the US should cut military aid to El Salvador, and withdraw its personnel? PCASC development co-ordinator Lynn DeWeese-Parkinson was also involved.

Reps Ron Wyden and Les AuCoin both endorsed the initiative.[3]

Linder letter

In 1987, the death of Benjamin Linder, the first American killed by U.S.-backed Nicaraguan Contras -- ignited a firestorm of protest and debate.

In the summer of 1983, the 23-year-old supporter of the Marxist Sandinista government, arrived in Managua with a newly earned degree in engineering. In 1986, Linder moved from Managua to El Cuá, a village in the Nicaraguan war zone, where he helped form a team to build a hydroplant to bring electricity to the town. He was ambushed and killed by the Contras the following year while surveying a stream for a possible hydroplant.

Despite testimony from the ambushers that Linder was armed and wearing a Sandinista military uniform at the time of the ambush, many Sandinista sympathizers tried to portray Linder's death as the deliberate murder of an unarmed civilian.

US Reps Ed Markey, Les AuCoin, George Crockett, David Bonior, Peter Rodino, Peter DeFazio, Ron Wyden, wrote an April 29. 1987 letter to Secratary of Stae George Schultze, the day after Linder's death, repeating the story that Linder was reportedly, unarmed, and asking questions as to the circumstances of Linder's death, including if the killing was committed by US backed "Contra" rebels.[4]

"Congressional Pink Caucus"

In October 1989 the Nicaraguan Sandinista Government announced that they would no longer comply with the 19 month-old cease-fire agreement with the Contras. This had been considered a prime step forward for the "peace process" that was progressing slowly as part of the Arias Peace Plan.

A resolution was introduced in Congress deploring the Sandinistas' action. The Senate voted unanimously in favor, but in the House the vote was 379-29. All the 29 Congressmen voting against the resolution were Democrats.

The Council for Inter-American Security dubbed these 29 people the "Congressional Pink Caucus":

Employed Iraqi agent?

On the morning of March 11, 2004, Susan Lindauer woke to find five F.B.I. agents at her front door. After reading her her rights, the agents took Lindauer from her home in Takoma Park, Md., to the F.B.I. field office in Baltimore, where she was charged with having acted as an unregistered agent of Saddam Hussein's Iraqi government and otherwise having elevated the interests of a foreign country above her allegiance to the United States.

According to the federal charges filed against her by the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, Lindauer repeatedly violated U.S. law beginning in 1999 by meeting with Iraqi diplomats at the Iraqi Mission to the United Nations in New York and with agents of Saddam Hussein's Iraqi Intelligence Service (I.I.S.). She was also indicted for accepting money from the Iraqis and traveling to Baghdad, where she met with Iraqi intelligence agents, in violation of federal law. From on or about Feb. 23, 2002, through on or about March 7, 2002, the indictment charged, Susan Lindauer, aka 'Symbol Susan,' met with several I.I.S. officers in Iraq, including at the Al-Rashid Hotel in Baghdad, and received cash payments of approximately $5,000.00.

The substance of the government's case against Susan Lindauer was contained in the indictment. While Lindauer was not accused of espionage, as initial reports of her arrest suggested, the government did charge her with a serious crime, even if the charge itself may seem like a technicality. By failing to register herself formally as a lobbyist and by supposedly following instructions from Iraqi diplomats and intelligence agents at the United Nations, the government charged, Lindauer had been acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government, a violation of federal law that is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Lindauer graduated from Smith in 1985 and then went to the London School of Economics, where she earned a master's degree and developed an interest in the Arab world. In 1990, she went to Washington, where she briefly worked as a journalist and then as a press secretary for liberal Democrats in the House and Senate. Susan Lindauer worked as a Congressional staffer for Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR, 1993) and then as press secretary for Representative Ron Wyden (D-OR, 1994) before joining the office of Senator Carol Moseley Braun (D-IL), where she worked as a press secretary and speech writer. She served as Press Secretary for Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) from March 11, 2002 to May 14, 2002.[5] [6][7]

Supported by Council for a Livable World

The Council for a Livable World, founded in 1962 by long-time socialist activist and alleged Soviet agent, Leo Szilard, is a non-profit advocacy organization that seeks to "reduce the danger of nuclear weapons and increase national security", primarily through supporting progressive, congressional candidates who support their policies. The Council supported Ron Wyden in his successful Senate run as candidate for Oregon.[8]

Council for a Livable World, 50th Anniversary

On June 6, 2012, Council for a Livable World, along with its sister organizations Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and Council for a Livable World’s PeacePAC, celebrated the 50th Anniversary of their founding by Leo Szilard in 1962.

An evening celebration was held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Congressman Barney Frank acted as the Master of Ceremonies and, in the process, received a lifetime achievement award from former Rep. Tom Downey, a member of the Council’s Board of Directors. The Robert F. Drinan Peace and Human Award was presented to former Representative and PeacePAC Chairman David Bonior and the late Edith Wilkie, a longtime advocate and leader for peace and justice.

Additionally, prior to the celebration, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) inserted a statement in the Congressional Record congratulating Council on our 50th Anniversary stating:

In a time when our country continues to face a host of global threats, it is important that we recognize the vital work that the Council for a Livable World carries out each and every day to mitigate these threats, and to make our world a more peaceful, a more livable place.
The Council for a Livable World is honored and humbled by everyone who joined in the 50th Anniversary Celebration. Thank you to all those who attended the events and to the many supporters who generously contributed to our work. The event exceeded all of our expectations and we are excited and determined as we look forward to another 50 years working on arms control and non-proliferation.[9]

Opposed the Iraq War

The following is a list of the 23 U.S. Senators voting "Nay" on the Iraq War resolution in October 2002. The vote was 77-23 in favor of the resolution.

Daniel Akaka (D - Hawaii), Jeff Bingaman (D - N.M.), Barbara Boxer (D - Calif.), Robert Byrd (D - W. Va.), Lincoln Chafee (R - R.I.), Kent Conrad (D - N.D.), Jon Corzine (D - N.J.), Mark Dayton (D - Minn.), Dick Durbin (D - Ill.), Russ Feingold (D - Wis.), Bob Graham (D - Fla.) [Retired, 2004], Daniel Inouye (D - Hawaii), Jim Jeffords (I - Vt.), Ted Kennedy (D - Mass.), Patrick Leahy (D - Vt.), Carl Levin (D - Mich.), Barbara Mikulski (D - Md.), Patty Murray (D - Wash.), Jack Reed (D - R.I.), Paul Sarbanes (D - Md.), Debbie Stabenow (D - Mich.), Paul Wellstone (D - Minn.) [Dec. 2002] and Ron Wyden (D - Ore.).

“Contract, Yes! Government intervention, No!”

“Contract, Yes! Government intervention, No!” was the message of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), the AFL-CIO, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and many mayors at rallies up and down the West Coast, Aug. 12. Thousands took to the streets in protest of a threat by the Bush administration to take over ports militarily in the event that the union decides to strike.

“I’m here because I think you are right on track. The stakes could not be higher,” Daschle said to the Portland, Ore., rally. “I say this administration is wrong, wrong, wrong, and you’ve got every right to fight, fight, fight!”

“We will be with you until the last day to see that you get what you deserve,” Daschle said as he pledged that Democrats nationwide would defend the union’s right to strike.

Backing that message were other prominent Congressional Democrats including Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.), who joined Daschle in Portland; Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) and House Democratic Whip Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sent strongly worded messages to the rallies. [10]

Trade with Cuba

In 2009 Sen. Mary Landrieu joined four other senators to push for more small business opportunities with Cuba.

Landrieu, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, wrote to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner requesting that changes in American telecommunications policy toward Cuba include access to new exports and opportunities for U.S. small businesses.

In April, President Barack Obama announced of a series of changes to limits on travel and gifts from the U.S. to Cuba, as well as the authorization of greater telecommunications links between the two countries.

The letter was also signed by Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

"As the administration negotiates with the Cuban government and comes up with new regulations, we would respectfully request your consideration to make U.S. small business interests a priority in these discussions," the senators wrote. "Small businesses are the engine of the American economy and, now more than ever, deserve a level playing field for new opportunities in Cuba. "

Specifically, the senators asked about five specific administration policies relating to small business participation in telecommunications activities in Cuba:

  • Whether U.S. Small Business Administration and Export-Import Bank loans would be eligible to be used for authorized small business activities with Cuba;
  • The specific roles that federal agencies such as the Department of Commerce, Export-Import Bank and SBA could play in promoting U.S. small business exports/activities in Cuba;
  • Whether the administration, as provided by the Regulatory Flexibility Act when a trade is likely to have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small companies in an industry sector, will work with the SBA Office of Advocacy to seek streamlined rules and licensing requirements for U.S. small business activities to Cuba;
  • Whether the administration plans to issue an online accessible step-by-step small business guide on doing business with Cuba under the new guidelines; such a document could outline banking procedures, business travel, claims, regulatory licensing and other relevant issues; and - Whether the administration plans to encourage the Cuban government to support joint ventures between Cuban and U.S. small businesses on these projects.[11]

Agricultural exports to Cuba

In March 2009 legislation was expected to be launched to open the door to expanded agricultural exports from the US to Cuba.

It was expected that US Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Montana) will this week introduce legislation to congress that would open the door to more agricultural exports to Cuba.

Co-sponsors on the deal comprised Democrat senators Jeff Bingaman, Maria Cantwell, Tom Harkin, Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln, Mark Pryor, Debbie Stabenow and Ron Wyden.[12]

The Sustainable Defense Task Force

The Sustainable Defense Task Force was formed in response to a request from Representative Barney Frank (D-MA), working in cooperation with Representative Walter B. Jones (R-NC), Representative Ron Paul (R-TX), and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), to explore possible defense budget contributions to deficit reduction efforts that would not compromise the essential security of the United States.

The Project on Defense Alternatives coordinated the work of the Task Force. Carl Conetta drafted the main body of the Task Force report in ongoing consultation with Task Force members who developed or digested proposals from the diverse sources cited in the report. A sub-committee of the Task Force reviewed the final draft before publication.[13]

Honduras letter

On Thursday, May 23, 2013, U.S. Senator Cardin (D-MD) circulated a Senate sign-on "Dear Colleague" letter to Secretary of State John Kerry addressing deepening concerns about Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Honduras.

The letter states that violence and impunity for state security forces in Honduras has reached intolerable levels and cites concerns related to extrajudicial killings, linkages to death squads, and increasing militarization of civilian law enforcement. The letter also raises the concern that State Department certifications intended to ensure that U.S. foreign aid supports the rule of law in Honduras may contradict the reality on the ground.

The letter asks State Department to:

  • provide Congress with a detailed assessment of the efficacy of current Honduran government efforts to address this issue as mandated by FY12 Appropriations language;
  • conduct a detailed review of specific State Department actions to help ensure that no U.S. funds are being used to support police implicated in human rights violations; and
  • make every reasonable effort to help ensure that Honduras' upcoming November 2013 elections are free, fair and peaceful.[14]

In addition to Cardin, the letter was cosigned by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Mark Udall (D-CO), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Michael F. Bennet (D-CO), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chris Coons (D-DE), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).[15]

Exposing CIA torture

In December 2014, Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, who as members of the Senate Intelligence Committee have been leading voices for public disclosure of the reports of torture during the Bush-Cheney years. In a New York Times article, Senator Wyden highlighted that it is “critically important that this report not be pushed under the rug, buried before the American people have a chance to see it.” Senator Mark Udall “remains committed to getting the truth out about the C.I.A.’s misguided, brutal and ineffective detention and interrogation program.”[16]

Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2015

S 299, the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2015, principal sponsors are Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.[17]

By May 20, it had accumulated 33 co-sponsors, including 26 Democrats - Sheldon Whitehouse, Tom Udall, Dick Durbin, Thomas Carper, Amy Klobuchar, Barbara Boxer, Jack Reed, Debbie Stabenow, Jeff Merkley, Chris Murphy, Benjamin Cardin, Chris Coons, Dianne Feinstein, Jeanne Shaheen, Sherrod Brown, Mazie Hirono, Brian Schatz, Tammy Baldwin, Ed Markey, Heidi Heitkamp, Jon Tester, Claire McCaskill, Ron Wyden, Tim Kaine, Al Franken, Elizabeth Warren, Michael Bennet, Martin Heinrich . [18]

Visit to Cuba, Guatemala, Argentina

Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., met with Guatemalan labor representatives about the importance of enforcing labor laws and strengthening protections for workers as part of a week-long visit to Guatemala, Cuba and Argentina, from Aug. 15-23, 2015.

Wyden met with officials from the Center for Rural Workers and the Solidarity Center and a leading labor attorney on Wednesday, August 19.

“Guatemalan labor leaders made clear that our trade agreement can be a strong force for improving conditions for workers in Central America, but only if the U.S. holds our trading partners accountable,” Wyden said. “When companies in Guatemala don’t pay minimum wages, or put their employees in unsafe conditions, U.S. workers and businesses also suffer. This visit reinforced just how important it is to include strong labor protections in our trade deals, and to make sure the U.S. follows through with robust enforcement of those rules.”

While in Guatemala, Wyden also met with U.S. Ambassador Todd Robinson, Guatemala’s attorney general and USAID workers, including Oregonians Daniel Bailey and Dion Glisan.

On the first leg of the visit, Wyden traveled to Cuba to explore new opportunities for Oregon businesses, and the potential for expanded diplomatic ties to improve human rights. He met with top officials for foreign affairs, energy and trade, and viewed a Cuban forest restoration project.

“This was my second visit to Havana, and this time around there was clearly a feeling of change in the air. Ordinary Cubans are excited about the prospect of better relations with the United States,” Wyden said. “Opening up trade with Cuba would benefit U.S. exporters, particularly agricultural producers who are anxious to be able to compete with Canada and other foreign suppliers on a level playing field. It would also benefit the Cuban people, who would have much to gain from the exchange of ideas and technology.”

Finally, Wyden traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to meet with Argentinian lawmakers and business leaders about the prospects for broadening U.S. economic and diplomatic ties. Wyden also met U.S. Ambassador Noah Mamet and other embassy officials.[19]

Staff

The following are past and present staff:[20]

External links

References

  1. official senate bio, accessed August 21, 2011
  2. official senate bio, accessed August 21, 2011
  3. [A Call to Conscience: The Anti-Contra War Campaign By Roger Craft Peace, Univ of Massachusetts Press page 137]
  4. United States Volunteers in Nicaragua, and the Death of Benjamin Linder, Hearing, Committee on Western Hemisperic Affairs, May 13, 1987
  5. David Samuels (August 29, 2004). "Susan Lindauer's Mission To Baghdad". New York Times. Retrieved November 7, 2008.
  6. Dao, James (March 12, 2004). "An Antiwar Activist Known for Being Committed Yet Erratic". New York Times. Retrieved June 11, 2008.
  7. [The New York Times August 29, 2004 Susan Lindauer's Mission To Baghdad, By David Samuels.SECTION: Section 6; Column 1; Magazine Desk; Pg. 25]
  8. CLW website: Meet Our Candidates
  9. Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation website. Council for a Livable World 50th Anniversary Celebration
  10. [http://www.peoplesworld.org/longshore-rallies-to-bush-butt-out/ PW, Longshore rallies to Bush: Butt out Print Email to a Friend by: EVELINA ALARCON AND JUAN LOPEZ august 16 2002]
  11. [New Orleans CityBusiness (New Orleans, LA) May 11, 2009 La. Sen. Landrieu seeks to grow U.S. small business' opportunities with Cuba BYLINE: CityBusiness Staff]
  12. Trade Finance March 2009
  13. Sustainable Defense Task force , report June 2010
  14. SOAWatch, Ask your Senator to sign onto the Cardin Letter about Honduras
  15. Cardin Press release, Cardin Leads Senate Call For Accountability In Honduras For Human Rights Violations Tuesday, June 18, 2013
  16. Lloyd Doggett FB page, accessed Dec 11, 2014
  17. [ http://peoplesworld.org/cuba-travel-bill-advances-in-the-senate/PW, Cuba travel bill advances in the Senate by: Emile Schepers May 20 2015]
  18. [%22S+299%22}, Congress.Gov. S.299 - Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2015114th Congress (2015-2016) | G]
  19. Wyden press release, Wyden Meets with Labor Representatives in Guatemala, Explores Trade and Diplomatic Opportunities in Cuba, ArgentinaMonday, August 24, 2015
  20. http://www.legistorm.com/member/100/Sen_Ron_Wyden_OR.html. Accessed 12/16/2011