Timothy James Walz (born April 6, 1964) is the U.S. Representative for Minnesota's 1st congressional district, serving since 2007. He is a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL).
The district comprises the state's southern end, running along the entire border with Iowa. It includes Rochester, Austin, Winona and Mankato.
Early life, education and career
Walz, the son of a public school administrator and community activist, was raised in Chadron, Nebraska, a rural community in the northwestern portion of the state.
Walz graduated from Butte High School in a class of 25 students, and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in social science education from Chadron State College. Walz's first teaching experience was at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Walz then accepted a teaching position with WorldTeach, teaching in the People's Republic of China.
Walz enlisted in the National Guard in 1981, and over the course of his 24-year career rose to the rank of command sergeant major.
In 1989, he earned the title of Nebraska Citizen-Soldier of the Year. After a deployment to Italy with his Guard unit as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, Walz retired from the National Guard and resumed teaching as a geography teacher and football coach at Mankato West Senior High School.
He and his wife Gwen ran Educational Travel Adventures, accompanying high school juniors and seniors on summer educational trips to China. Walz has two children - one daughter and one son.
He currently resides in Mankato, Minnesota.
Career in Congress
Walz decided to run for Congress in 2006. Walz had no opponent in the race for the DFL nomination for the seat in the September 12, 2006 primary election. He beat incumbent Republican Gil Gutknecht in the general election on November 7, and took office on January 3, 2007.
In his victory speech, Walz said "they should've let us into the quarry." Congressman Walz is believed to be the highest-ranking graduate of Wellstone Action's Camp Wellstone.
Upon his swearing in, Walz became the highest-ranking retired enlisted soldier ever to serve in Congress, as well as only the fourth Democrat/DFLer to represent the 1st District. The others were Thomas Wilson (1887–89), William Harries (1891–93), and Tim Penny 1983-1995 (DFL). He was reelected in 2008 with 62 percent of the vote, becoming only the second non-Republican to win a second full term in the district. He won a third term in 2010, defeating State Representative Randy Demmer with 50 percent of the vote.
Walz serves on the House Agriculture Committee, Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Along with fellow Minnesota freshman Democrat, Keith Ellison, Walz opposed President Bush's plan to increase troop levels in Iraq.
In his first week as a legislator, Walz cosponsored a bill to raise the minimum wage, voted for stem cell research, voted to allow Medicare to negotiate pharmaceutical prices, and voiced support for pay-as-you-go budget rules, requiring that new spending or tax changes not add to the federal deficit.
Representing a district that has traditionally voted Republican, but has recently become a swing district due to changing demographics, Walz has cast votes ranging from moderate to liberal. He voted no on the act to Prohibit Federally Funded Abortion Services, and voted yes to advance the current Health Care bill out of the house. He has also voted to continue troop funding for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and he voted against the 2008 TARP bill, which purchased troubled assets from financial institutions. Walz was recently re-elected in 2008 by a 30% margin over his GOP opponent.
Walz generally receives supportive ratings from traditionally progressive interest groups lower ratings from conservative-leaning groups. For instance, he receives a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood and a 93 from the AFL-CIO, while he gets a 50% rating from the Chamber of Commerce and an "F" from the National Taxpayers' Union.
A member of the Agriculture Committee, Walz receives high ratings from Ag interest groups like the National Farmers Union and the National Association of Wheat Growers. He also receives an "A" from the National Rifle Association and an "A+" from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of War.
Congressman Dennis Kucinich introduced House Resolution 333, which would impeach Vice President Cheney for high crimes and misdemeanors. Walz said that he wouldn't sign on the Resolution but that he would support articles of impeachment should they come to the floor.
Having served 24 years in the National Guard, Walz is the highest ranking enlisted soldier to serve in Congress. As a freshman in Congress he was given a rare third committee membership when he was assigned to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Walz has championed enhanced veterans benefits since taking office in 2007.
In May of that year the House unanimously passed his “Traumatic Brain Injuries Center Act” to set up 5 centers around the nation to study traumatic brain injuries and develop improved models for caring for veterans suffering from such injuries. Walz also supported the new GI Bill of 2008 which expanded education benefits for veterans and in some cases allowed them to transfer education benefits to family members. In 2009, Walz gave the keynote address at the American Legion National Convention in Louisville, KY. In his speech he spoke about the need for the VA and Department of Defense to work together to make sure that returning service men and women “do not fall through the cracks when they transition to civilian life.”
During 2008, Walz repeatedly spoke out against using taxpayer money to bailout financial institutions; in late September he voted against the $700 billion TARP bill, which purchased troubled assets from these institutions. Walz released a statement after passage of the bill saying, "The bill we voted on today passes the buck when it comes to recouping the losses taxpayers might suffer. I also regret that this bill does not do enough to help average homeowners, or provide sufficient oversight of Wall Street.” In December 2008 he used the same reasoning when he voted against the bill that offered $14 billion in government loans to bail out the country’s large automobile manufacturers. In June 2009 Walz introduced a bi-partisan resolution calling on the federal government to "relinquish its temporary ownership interests in the General Motors Corporation and Chrysler Group, LLC, as soon as possible” and stated that the government must not be involved in the management decisions of those companies.
Despite his “No” votes on bailout bills which loaned taxpayer money to the large banks and auto manufacturers, Walz did vote with his Democratic colleagues to support the 2009 American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (aka Stimulus bill). As a member of the House Transportation Committee, Walz saw the stimulus bill as an opportunity to work “with his congressional colleagues to make job creation through investment in public infrastructure like roads, bridges and clean energy the cornerstone of the economic recovery plan.” Walz has focused heavily on job and economic issues that are important to his southern Minnesota district, which has a mix of larger employers like the Mayo Clinic along with small businesses and agricultural interests. In July 2009 he voted for the Small Business Research and Innovation Act which he described as "part of our long-term economic blueprint to spur job creation by encouraging America's entrepreneurs to innovate toward breakthrough technological advancements." Walz has also put emphasis on the farm economy by urging assistance for hog and dairy farmers who struggled with lower prices for their commodities in 2008 and 2009.
A public school teacher for 20 years, Walz is a strong supporter of Public Schools and opposes using merit pay for teachers in low-income schools as punishment. Voting in favor of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Walz pointed to its strong provisions in support of public school buildings. Walz is on record supporting legislation to lower tuition costs. He said in a February 12, 2009 speech, that the most important thing to do “to ensure a solid base for [America’s] economic future…is to provide the best education possible for [American] children.” He has received strong backing for these policies by many interest groups such as the National Education Association, the American Association of University Women and the National Association of Elementary School Principals.
December 5th, 2011