|Chair of the House Appropriations Committee|
January 3, 2007 - January 3, 2011
March 29, 1994 - January 3, 1995
|Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee|
January 3, 1995 - January 3, 2007
|Joseph M. McDade|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Wisconsin's 7th district
April 1, 1969 - January 3, 2011
David Ross Obey
October 3, 1938
Okmulgee, Oklahoma, U.S.
|Education||University of Wisconsin, Madison (BS, MA)|
David Ross Obey ( OH-bee; born October 3, 1938) is a former United States Representative. Obey served in the House of Representatives for Wisconsin's 7th congressional district from 1969 to 2011. The district includes much of the northwestern portion of the state, including Wausau and Superior. He is a member of the Democratic Party, and served as Chairman of the powerful House Committee on Appropriations from 1994 to 1995 and again from 2007 to 2011. He is the longest-serving member ever of the United States House of Representatives from the state of Wisconsin.
On May 5, 2010, Obey announced that he would not seek reelection to Congress in November 2010. He left Congress in January 2011, and was succeeded by Republican Sean Duffy. He began working for Gephardt Government Affairs, a lobbying firm founded by former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt, in June 2011.
Obey was born in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, the son of Mary Jane (née Chellis) and Orville John Obey. Soon after his birth, his family moved back to his parents' native Wisconsin, and Obey was raised in Wausau, Wisconsin, where he has lived since. He graduated from Wausau East High School and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from and did his graduate work in Soviet politics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before serving in Congress, Obey worked as a real estate broker.
Obey grew up as a Republican. However, he was so angered after seeing his teachers falsely branded as Communists by backers of Joseph McCarthy that he became a Democrat in the mid-1950s, sometime between the ages of 16 and 18.
He was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1963 and served there until 1969.
Obey was the longest-serving member of either house of Congress in Wisconsin's history. He was also the third longest-serving member of the House, after fellow Democrats John Dingell and John Conyers, both of Michigan.
In Congress, Obey chaired the commission to write the House's Code of Ethics. Among the reforms he instituted was one requiring members of the House to disclose their personal financial dealings so the public would be made aware of any potential conflicts of interest. Obey served as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee from 2007 to 2011; he briefly chaired this committee from 1994 to 1995 and served as its ranking Democrat from 1995 to 2007. He also chaired its Subcommittee on Labor.
Obey was one of the most liberal members of the House; he considers himself a progressive in the tradition of Robert La Follette. Obey had risen to the position of fifth ranking House Democrat since his party retook control of Congress.
Obey also is remembered for being the congressman who intervened when fellow Democrat Harold Ford, Jr. approached Republican Jean Schmidt on the House floor in 2005. Ford was upset because Schmidt had called Congressman John Murtha a coward for advocating a redeployment of American forces in Iraq.
Obey holds a critical view of the mainstream American news media, as evidenced by his words on June 13, 2008, upon the sudden death of NBC News Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert. Obey said of Russert: "Tim Russert's death is not just a body blow for NBC News; it is a body blow for the nation and for anyone who cherishes newsmen and women who have remained devoted to reporting hard news in an era increasingly consumed by trivia." Dave Obey announced an end to his congressional career on May 5, 2010, with press releases being released on May 6.
On June 30, 2010, Obey proposed an amendment to a supplemental war spending bill that would allocate $10 billion to prevent expected teacher layoffs from school districts nationwide. The amendment, which passed the House on July 1, 2010, proposed siphoning off $500 million from the Race to the Top fund as well as $300 million designated for charter schools and teacher incentive pay. In response, the White House released a statement threatening a veto if the bill is passed by the Senate.
Obey was elected to the House to replace eight-term incumbent Republican Melvin R. Laird, who was appointed Secretary of Defense under President Richard Nixon. Obey, only 30 when he was elected, became the youngest member of Congress upon taking his seat, as well as the first Democrat ever to represent the district. He was elected to a full term in 1970 and was reelected 18 times. He only faced serious opposition twice. In 1972, during his bid for a second full term, his district was merged with the neighboring 10th District of Republican Alvin O'Konski, a 15-term incumbent. However, Obey retained 60 percent of his former territory, and was handily reelected in subsequent contests.
In 1994, Obey only won reelection by seven points as the Democrats lost control of the House during the Republican Revolution.
Obey was expected to run in 2010, having raised a warchest of $1.4 million. However, Obey was facing tough poll numbers in his district, plus his age and the death of close colleague John Murtha and his frustration with the White House convinced him to bow out of the race.
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Wisconsin's 7th congressional district
| Chair of the House Appropriations Committee
| Chair of the House Appropriations Committee