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Jobs and the Economy

After more than 10 years since the financial crisis and the $700 billion bailout of wealthy financial institutions, which DeFazio proudly voted against, Wall Street is thriving, wages for average Americans are flat, and income inequality in this country is soaring. Add to that the United States’ failed trade policies―which have helped outsource millions of good-paying Americans jobs―and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which provided massive tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy while exploding our national debt, and the last decade has been immensely frustrating and painful for working families. 

DeFazio has continually fought for policies that benefit working families and that will build a robust and inclusive middle class. He has continually fought for investment in U.S. infrastructure, reform of our failed trade policies, fix a rigged tax code, and reform of Wall Street. 

Investing in Our Infrastructure

As Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, DeFazio introduced his Moving Forward framework to invest $760 billion over five years in the nation’s roads, bridges, transit systems, railways, airports, ports, inland waterways, wastewater and drinking water systems, brownfields, and broadband. This framework is an opportunity to get our existing infrastructure working again and fund new transformative projects that will create an estimated 10 million good-paying jobs, while reducing carbon pollution, dramatically improving safety, and spurring economic activity. 

Our country has changed dramatically since the 1950s, yet people and goods are now literally stuck trying to move on transportation networks first developed nearly 70 years ago. It’s past time for transformational investments to make our infrastructure smarter, safer, and resilient to climate change, or else we will keep throwing money at an antiquated system that is only holding us and our economy back. 

Fighting Failed Trade Policies

​Congressman DeFazio has been a leader in fighting "free" trade agreements that have led to massive job loss, the withering of the U.S. manufacturing base, soaring trade deficits, and the erosion of U.S. sovereignty, among other problems. He opposed the creation of the World Trade Organization, has voted against every free trade agreement, was a lead opponent of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), has a long history of standing up to Chinese trade abuses, fought against President Obama’s disastrous Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and worked to improve the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA). 

As someone who has spent their entire career fighting on behalf of the American worker, Congressman DeFazio knows Congress can and must do more to address the very real frustrations of Americans whose lives have been ruined by trade policies that put corporate profits over working people. He will always do everything he can to ensure that the federal government creates a more level playing field for American workers.  

Fixing a Rigged Tax Code 

Our nation was long overdue for comprehensive tax reform. Unfortunately, we took a massive step backwards  when President Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress rammed through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which was a completely partisan bill.  

The TCJA was a huge handout to wealthiest Americans and rich corporations. Despite claims that the corporate tax rate cut would lead to huge job growth and massive investment in research and development, the jobs haven’t materialized, R&D has not spiked, and, instead, corporations have spent more than $1.5 trillion on stock buybacks and dividends since the law was enacted.  

Congressman DeFazio has and will continue to do everything in his power to advocate for common-sense tax reform that better supports working Americans. 

Ensuring the Wealthy Pay Their Fair Share 

Each year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) leaves hundreds of billions of dollars in owed tax liabilities on the table. The tax gap—the difference between tax liabilities owed to the IRS and those liabilities that are actually collected—is estimated to be more than $600 billion annually, with the majority of underpayment coming from the wealthy. Unfortunately, the average U.S. household is paying an annual surtax of more than $3,000 to subsidize taxpayers who aren’t paying all that they owe. 

That’s why Congressman DeFazio has introduced legislation that will give the IRS the resources it needs to ensure they are collecting taxes owed by the wealthy and rich corporations. 

His legislation is designed to promote a fairer U.S. tax system and invest more in policies that will better support working families. 

Congressman DeFazio has also previously introduced legislation to discourage multinational corporations from moving abroad by taxing corporate profits on a per-country basis. Republicans promised that their tax plan would bring jobs home to the U.S., but instead it is encouraging multi-billion-dollar corporations to move jobs and ship profits overseas. This legislation would close the loopholes Republicans left open for wealthy businesses and eliminate incentives luring American jobs and American dollars to other countries. 

In addition, DeFazio has advocated for taxing capital gains at more appropriate levels, raising the income tax level on millionaires and billionaires, and closing the carried interest loophole.  

Raising the Minimum Wage and Fighting for Workers' Rights

Minimum Wage 
The federal minimum wage should be a living wage, which is why Rep. DeFazio has advocated for raising the federal minimum wage. In Oregon’s Fourth Congressional District, over 110,000 people earn minimum wage, and in Oregon the number is more than 300,000.  

The evidence from Oregon confirms that moderate increases in the minimum wage help low-wage workers, especially former welfare recipients. Economic data shows that the increase in the minimum wage reversed years of declining wages for welfare recipients and other low-wage workers in Oregon, and the decision to raise the minimum wage has not resulted in any significant job losses. In fact, unemployment fell. 

Rep. DeFazio cosponsored and voted for Raise the Wage Act which passed the House last July. It would raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2024 and index the federal minimum wage to the median wage. The legislation would raise wages for more than 40 million American workers. 

It is unconscionable that millions of Americans work full-time and live below the poverty level.

Improving Workers Rights 

Rep. DeFazio cosponsored and voted for the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which passed the House earlier this Congress. This bill would establish penalties on corporations that violate workers’ rights; strengthen workers’ right to strike for basic workplace improvements, including higher wages and better working conditions; allow unions to negotiate agreements with employers that allow unions to collect fair-share fees that cover the costs of representation; and would  streamline the National Labor Relation Board’s (NLRB) procedures to secure worker freedom and effectively prevent violations. 

Preserving Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers

Last year, the Trump administration’s Department of Agriculture suddenly announced the closure or alteration of all 25 Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers, including 3 in Oregon, without the consultation, notification, or approval of Congress. CCCs are unique and incredibly successful facilities that operate under the Job Corps program with a mandate to help conserve and develop public resources and to respond to natural disasters. The program also helps train thousands of at-risk youth from low-income and rural communities, providing them with cutting-edge vocational training and pathways out of poverty. 

In response, Rep. DeFazio authored a strongly bipartisan amendment to prevent the Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center (CCC) program closures. He also helped lead a bipartisan, bicameral letter to the Trump administration urging them to abandon this misguided plan. 

As a result of these efforts, the Trump administration reversed course and has been working to improve the Job Corps CCC program.   


More on Jobs and the Economy

Mar 20, 2020 Press Release

Today, as the COVID-19 pandemic has led to massive layoffs and economic hardship across the United States, U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation, and U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, led 100 of their colleagues in urging that any economic relief package for industries affected by the pandemic puts workers—not corporate profits—first and includes strict corporate accountability measures.

Feb 5, 2020 Press Release

Today the House of Representatives passed decisively bipartisan legislation authored by Rep. Peter DeFazio that would provide the United States Postal Service (USPS) with much-needed financial relief by ending the agency’s burdensome prefunding mandate on future retiree health benefits. The legislation passed by a vote of 309 to 106, with 87 Republicans voting in favor of the bill. 

Feb 4, 2020 Press Release

Rep. Peter DeFazio today released the following statement in response to President Trump’s State of the Union address:

Nov 21, 2019 Press Release

Washington, DC- Today, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) announced the Corvallis Municipal Airport received a $2.15 million Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The grant is made possible by funding approved by Congress.

Nov 18, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC—U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) today, announced he is an original cosponsor of The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, legislation that aims to retrofit, rehabilitate, and decarbonize the nation’s public housing stock.

Nov 13, 2019 Press Release

Washington, D.C.Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Peter DeFazio (OR-04), today released testimony from Oregon State Representative, Nancy Nathanson (Eugene, District 13) delivered at a committee hearing titled: “Amtrak Now and Into the Future.” Nathanson advocated for increased federal funding for passenger rail operations, more reliable capital funding, attention to freight train length and freight interference in order to improve passenger rail service and increase on time performance.

Oct 22, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC—U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio today was joined by a bipartisan group of 72 members in a letter to House Leadership urging Congress to reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) Program for at least two years.

Oct 1, 2019 Press Release

Eugene, OR—U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio in a statement today urged University of Oregon leadership to resolve the labor negotiation impasse with a strong contract that honors the contributions of graduate teaching fellows and provides basic benefits and a living wage. The University and Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF), AFT Local 3544, have been in contract negotiations since November 2018.

Sep 19, 2019 Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Peter DeFazio (OR-4) announced the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded multiple grants exceeding $1.7 million to jurisdictions in Oregon’s Fourth Congressional District to assist local firefighting efforts. An additional $1.9 million was awarded to statewide programs.

Sep 19, 2019 Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Peter DeFazio (OR-4) announced the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has awarded the state of Oregon a $251,600 hazardous materials emergency preparedness grant. Funds will be provided to the Office of State Fire Marshal to invest in emergency response training and plans to deal with accidents involving the transportation of hazardous materials.