Earl Blumenauer (born August 16, 1948) is the U.S. Representative for Oregon's 3rd congressional district, serving since 1996. He is a member of the Democratic Party. The district includes most of Portland east of the Willamette River. A native of Portland, he previously spent over 20 years as a public official representing the city.
Blumenauer was born in Portland, Oregon, on August 16, 1948. In 1966, he graduated from Centennial High School on the eastside of Portland and then enrolled at Lewis & Clark College in the southwest part of the city.
He majored in political science and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Lewis & Clark in 1970. Blumenauer completed his education in 1976 when he earned a Juris Doctor degree from the school's Northwestern School of Law (now Lewis & Clark Law School). Starting before law school in 1970 and continuing until 1977, he worked as an assistant to the president of Portland State University.
Early political career
In 1972, Blumenauer was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives as a Democrat representing District 11 in Multnomah County. He won re-election in 1974 and 1976, and continued representing Portland and Multnomah County until the 1979 legislative session. From 1975 to 1981 he served on the board of Portland Community College.
Following his time in the Oregon Legislature, Blumenauer was elected as a Commissioner of Multnomah County and was a member of the county's governing board from 1979 to 1987.
In 1987, he joined the Portland City Council where he remained until 1996. During his time on the city council Oregon Governor Neil Goldschmidt appointed him to the commission on higher education, serving in 1990 and 1991. In 1992, Blumenauer was defeated by Vera Katz in an open race for mayor of Portland. At the time he was described as "the man who probably knows the most about how Portland works," but left local politics to run for Congress.
Blumenauer was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1996 in a special election to fill the vacancy caused by the election of then-U.S.
Representative Ron Wyden to the U.S. Senate. He won 69% of the vote and defeated Republican Mark Brunelle. He won the seat for a full term that November, and has been re-elected six more times by wide margins, most recently in 2010, winning 70% of the vote over Republican Delia Lopez who won 25%.
Blumenauer served as Oregon campaign chair for both John Kerry's and Barack Obama's presidential campaigns.
In Congress, Blumenauer is noted for his advocacy for mass transit, such as Portland's MAX Light Rail and the Portland Streetcar, and, as a strong supporter of legislation that promotes bicycle commuting, cycles from his Washington residence to the Capitol and even to the White House for meetings.
Among the bills that Blumenauer has sponsored that have become law are the Bunning-Bereuter-Blumenauer Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2004 and the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005. In addition, the Legal Timber Protection Act passed as part of the 2008 Farm Bill, while the Bicycle Commuter Act passed with the 2008 bailout bill.
He is active in pressuring the United States to take greater action on the Darfur conflict.
In the political aftermath of Hurricane Katrina Blumenauer noted that he was among those who had pointed out the vulnerability of New Orleans and encouraged Congress to help that city and the gulf coast get better prepared:
- September 15, 2004: Mr.
Speaker, barely have we recovered from Hurricane Hugo and we are seeing Hurricane Ivan pose the threat that has long been feared by those in Louisiana, that this actually might represent the loss of the City of New Orleans. Located 15 feet below sea level, there is the potential of a 30-foot wall of water putting at risk $100 billion of infrastructure and industry and countless lives.
- January 26, 2005: Mr. Speaker, I recently had the opportunity to view the devastation in Southeast Asia as a result of the tsunami. As appalled as I was by what I saw, I must confess that occasionally my thoughts drifted back to the United States. What would have happened if last September, Hurricane Ivan had veered 40 miles to the west, devastating the city of New Orleans? One likely scenario would have had a tsunami-like 30-foot wall of water hitting the city, causing thousands of deaths and $100 billion in damage....The experience of Southeast Asia should convince us all of the urgent need for congressional action to prevent wide-scale loss of life and economic destruction at home and abroad.
Prevention and planning will pay off. Maybe the devastation will encourage us to act before disaster strikes.
Blumenauer is a supporter of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and has voted for "free trade" agreements with Peru, Australia, Singapore, Chile as well as Africa and the Caribbean. Blumenauer's support for these free trade agreements has angered progressives, environmental and labor activists. In 2004, he voted against the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). On September 24, 2007, four labor and human rights activists were arrested in Blumenauer's office protesting the congressman's support for the Peru Free Trade Agreement.,
In February 2009, after an incident in Connecticut wherein a domesticated chimpanzee severely mauled a woman gained national attention, Blumenauer sponsored the Captive Primate Safety Act to bar the sale or purchase of non-human primates for personal possession between states and from outside of the country. The previous year, in June 2008, Blumenauer had sponsored legislation to ban interstate trafficking of great apes, which had passed in the House but been tabled by the Senate.
Blumenauer has received some media attention during the political debate over health care reform for sponsoring an amendment to the America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 to change current procedures to mandate that Medicare pay for end-of-life counseling. The amendment, as introduced, is based on an earlier proposal cosponsored by Blumenauer and Republican Representative Charles Boustany of Louisiana. The amendment has generated controversy, with conservative figures as well-known as 2008 vice presidential candidate and former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin suggesting that the amendment, if made law, will be used as a cover for the United States federal government to set up "death panels" to determine which people will receive medical treatment. Blumenauer sharply criticized the claim as "mind-numbing" and called it an "all-time low". His rebuke was echoed by Republican Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia, who scorned the "death panels" claim as "nuts".
January 23rd, 2012