ENG: Jason Altmire (born March 7, 1968) is the former U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania's 4th congressional district, serving from 2007 until 2013. He is a member of the Democratic Party.
Early life, education, and early political career
Altmire was born in western Pennsylvania, where he was raised an only child in a single parent home. A record-breaking high-school athlete, he set a school record in track and field and was recognized as an all-star wide receiver in football before a serious knee injury kept him off the athletic field as a senior. In 1986, he matriculated at Florida State University, in Tallahassee. Following a lengthy rehabilitation of his knee injury, he tried out for and made the Seminole football team as a walk on.
He graduated in 1990 with a B.S. in Political Science and worked in the Tallahassee campaign office of Douglas "Pete" Peterson, then a candidate for Congress in Florida's Second Congressional District. He later earned a Master's in Health Administration from George Washington University in Washington, DC.
After Peterson won the 1990 congressional race against incumbent Republican Congressman Bill Grant, he hired Altmire to work in his Capitol Hill office. Altmire worked as a legislative assistant during Peterson's three terms in office (1991–1996), specializing in domestic policy issues. He gained an expertise in health care issues and helped Peterson draft several major health care proposals.
In 1993, Altmire was appointed to a working group for President Clinton's Task Force on National Health Care Reform. In 1996, when Peterson was named U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam, Altmire continued his work in health care policy by taking a job with the Federation of American Hospitals.
In 1998, Altmire returned to Western Pennsylvania to work for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). By 2005, he was the acting Vice President for Government Relations and Community Health Services. His duties at UPMC included oversight of UPMC’s Office of Charitable Giving, which had primary discretion over UPMC’s then $6 million in annual charitable donations.
He also represented UPMC in discussions with government officials and local community organizations. During this time, Altmire was a frequent volunteer and community activist, serving on the boards of more than a dozen community and civic organizations. In recognition of his community service, in 2003 he was named by Pittsburgh Magazine as one of Pittsburgh's "40 under 40", and in 2005 he was awarded the Arcadia Award by Northern Allegheny Chamber of Commerce. The Arcadia Award is presented annually to the local business leader who most exemplifies dedication to community service.
In January 2013, Altmire began work as an executive with Florida Blue, Florida's Blue Cross Blue Shield Company.
U.S. House of Representatives - Elections
Altmire served for six years, from 2007 to 2013.
He had never before been a candidate for public office when he left UPMC in June 2005 to run against three-term incumbent Republican U.S. Congresswoman Melissa Hart of Pennsylvania's 4th congressional district, who was considered by most observers to be invulnerable. In May 2006, Altmire won the Democratic primary, defeating millionaire businesswoman Georgia Berner, 55%-45%. In the 2006 general election, Altmire campaigned relentlessly and raised over $1 million to help fund his race against Hart. After polling well behind Hart early in the race, he eventually closed the gap heading into the final weeks before the election. Altmire defeated Hart 52%-48%.
In 2008, Hart ran again in a rematch.
He defeated her 56%-44%.
In the historic 2010 wave election that saw Democrats lose 63 seats in the U.S. House, including 5 in Pennsylvania, Altmire survived. He was re-elected to a third term, defeating businessman Keith Rothfus, 51%-49%.
Following the 2010 census, Pennsylvania lost one congressional seat, and Altmire's district was eliminated when Pennsylvania's 4th congressional district was moved across the state. Altmire was forced into a primary battle in Pennsylvania's 12th congressional district, represented by fellow Democratic congressman Mark Critz, who defeated Altmire 51% to 49% in the primary election. Critz went on to lose the 2012 general election to Keith Rothfus, Altmire's 2010 opponent.
Altmire had a moderate voting record and was regularly identified as a centrist in Congress by non-partisan publications. Altmire introduced 49 bills or amendments that passed the House, 29 of which became law. He did not miss a single vote during his first two terms and continued the unbroken voting streak into his sixth year in office, which was easily the longest House vote streak during that time. The streak finally ended at 4734 consecutive votes when Altmire missed votes while attending a White House ceremony for a constituent postumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama. Over the course of his six years in office, he returned more than $1 million in unspent office funds, citing a desire to lead by example and be a steward of taxpayer money.
Altmire gained national attention with his effort to guarantee enlistment bonuses of combat-wounded veterans and was the principal author of the law that expands the Family and Medical Leave Act to cover military guard and reserve families. He also personally intervened with President George W. Bush's administration and successfully forced a 2007 policy change allowing Vietnam-era Gold Star families access to White House tours after a constituent was denied.
Altmire was actively involved in the 2008 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act and served on the House-Senate conference committee that finalized the bill before it was sent to President George W. Bush for his signature. Altmire was also named to the conference committees for the 2007 College Cost Reduction Act and the 2007 Defense Authorization bills, each of which became law. From 2007 to 2010, he served as chairman of the Small Business Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation, during which time he took the lead in passing through the House his legislation to help small businesses acquire private capital investment. As Chairman, he convened a number of congressional hearings to study the impact of federal laws and regulations on American small businesses.
In 2007, Altmire played a leadership role in stopping the use of Chinese-made steel in the construction of the U.S.- Mexico border fence. In 2009, he authored the successful amendment that broke a long-running congressional stalemate that had for years delayed passage of an omnibus land conservation bill that combined dozens of different bills and covered millions of acres of public land. Following the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Altmire helped lead a high-profile rescue of two constituents and the 54 orphans under their care. In 2011, Altmire's legislation modernizing the federal charter of the American Legion gained the support of 432 cosponsors, the most cosponsors ever recorded for a single bill in U.S. House history.
A nationally recognized leader on health care policy, Altmire authored the legislation that ended the late enrollment penalty for low-income seniors participating in the Medicare Part D program, and he played a decisive role in preventing a proposed 2007 Medicare budget cut for hospitals. In 2008, he successfully led the effort to delay the Medicare durable medical equipment competitive bidding program, and in 2009, he introduced legislation that became the template for the hospital value-based purchasing demonstration project included as part the Affordable Care Act. Altmire was a key participant in the congressional debate on health care reform in 2009 and 2010. Because of his professional background in health care, his vote was sought after by both sides and he withstood heavy pressure from the White House and Democratic party leaders before voting against the bill on March 21, 2010.
Altmire was known as an active participant in congressional debates, speaking on the House floor more than two hundred times during his career. He was also a frequent guest on national political and cable news programs and was profiled in a variety of publications and media outlets, including Time Magazine, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Good Morning America, and Comedy Central's popular political satire program The Colbert Report.
Altmire is married to the former Kelly Lynn Fagan of Winter Haven, Florida, and is the father of two school-aged daughters.
February 13, 2013