Ron Wyden is a U.S. senator for Oregon, a position he has held since 1996. Prior to his election to the Senate, Wyden was a member of the House of Representatives from 1981 to 1996. A senior Democrat, Wyden serves on the Senate’s Budget Committee and Select Committee on Intelligence, and previously chaired the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Wyden began his political career in the 1970s as an aide to former senator Wayne Morse. He graduated from Stanford University and holds a law degree from the University of Oregon.
Why is he in the news?
Wyden in February became chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, replacing outgoing Senator Max Baucus who was appointed the new U.S. ambassador to China. In this position, Wyden will lead one of the most powerful committees in the Senate, whose members have influence over policies on taxes, healthcare, and trade.
What can we expect from him?
Wyden is often described as an ambitious lawmaker who has a wide range of policy interests and is willing to reach across the aisle to work with members of the Republican Party. His stance on renewing Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), also known as fast track, for President Barack Obama will be critical as the administration attempts to conclude negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership trade deals. The TPP is seen as the economic cornerstone of the U.S. strategic rebalance to the Asia Pacific region.
Wyden voted in favor of TPA in 2002 during the Bush administration. Yet, in stark contrast to his predecessor Baucus – who was a champion of fast track – Wyden said upon becoming Finance Committee chairman that TPA legislation is not among his priorities. Wyden has in the past called for greater congressional oversight on trade and penned an open letter to President Obama calling for more transparency in the TPP negotiations. Expect him to work closely with lawmakers in the Senate as well as the administration in pushing for possible changes to the TPA bill.