David Ross Obey

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This is a profile of a former U.S. Representative. (See the Wisconsin portal for all incumbents, candidates and blogs.)
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David Ross Obey was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1969 to 2011, representing the Seventh Congressional District of Wisconsin.


Record and controversies

Congressional scorecards

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Organization 2007 Scorecard
Score - Agree ratio
2008 Scorecard
Score - Agree ratio
American Civil Liberties Union not avail. not avail.
American Conservative Union not avail. not avail.
AFSCME not avail. not avail.
Americans for Democratic Action not avail. not avail.
Club for Growth not avail. not avail.
Drum Major Institute not avail. not avail.
Family Research Council not avail. not avail.
Information Technology Industry Council not avail. not avail.
League of Conservation Voters not avail. not avail.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People not avail. not avail.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce not avail. not avail.

Obey is considered liberal in many respects, but not all. The National Rifle Association gives Obey high marks, and Obey did not support the Brady bill. [1] In addition, his record on abortion is mixed. Obey identifies himself as a Catholic, and was a signer of the Democrats Catholic Statement of Principles, which recognizes the "undesirability of abortion." [2] Obey does, however, follow many traditional Democratic issue positions, supporting labor unions, consumer rights groups, environmental groups and traditional civil rights groups.

Iraq War

Obey voted against the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 that started the Iraq War.[1]

Following President Bush’s 2007 veto of the initial supplemental bill for funding the war in Iraq, Rep. Obey endorsed a measure (H.R.2206) which would provide $42.8 billion for the Iraq War without any withdrawal timetables or domestic funding. The funding would provide “immediate funding needs” to the U.S. military, including defense-wide healthcare needs, research and development. The bill would keep operations in Iraq going through July. Congress would then decide shortly before its August recess whether to release an additional $52.8 billion of war spending to last through September. The bill also contained most of the additional domestic funding from H.R.1591, including child health spending for state programs, Katrina disaster relief, flu fighting, and a minimum wage increase accompanied by small business tax relief.

Main article: U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007 (H.R.2206)
Main article: Congressional actions to end the Iraq War in the 110th Congress
For more information see the chart of U.S. House of Representatives votes on the Iraq War.

Threat to hold up war funding

On October 2, 2007 Chairman David Obey said that he would hold $190 billion in Iraq War funding hostage until President Bush acceded to demands for an exit strategy and proposed a $150 billion war surtax. The tax plan was stopped within hours by Democratic leaders including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) but the proposal to delay the war funding until 2008 was being seriously considered by Democratic leaders in Congress.

“The president isn’t going to get a supplemental this year,” said Obey. “The president soon or later is going to need that supplemental,” he said, adding that Bush would have to change course before Obey would let it move out of the House Appropriations Committee. Obey put two other conditions on moving the war bill in addition to a January 2009 goal for ending combat operations: a plan to make sure that soldiers get adequate time off between deployments and demonstration that the administration would engage in a broad diplomatic offensive involving other Middle East countries. Obey later said that he was flexible on the particulars. “We want any kind of movement at this point from existing policy,” he said. [2]

The proposed war surtax on income would have ranged from 2 to 15 percent of every American’s tax bill, raising about $150 billion a year to pay for the war. “If you don’t like the cost shut down the war,” said Obey. He added that “We need to stop pretending that this war doesn’t cost anything. House Majority leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said he did not want a supplemental to be a “blank check” but said that Obey’s plans were not yet those of the party. “We’re going to discuss Mr. Obey’s proposal. … There’s been no decision on that,” said Hoyer. [3]

Environmental record

For more information on environmental legislation, see the Energy and Environment Policy Portal


In December 2006, it became clear that the newly-elected Democratic-controlled Congress would need to address FY 2007 budgets in the first few weeks of the 110th Congress. Rep. Obey and Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), incoming chairs of the House and Senate appropriations committees, said that Democrats would place a moratorium on earmarks “until a reformed process is put in place.” Obey stated, “Republicans have spent years handing out billions upon billions of dollars in tax cuts to millionaires while shortchanging our national priorities...It is going to take us years to get back on track.” Specifically, this would entail passing a continuing resolution without any earmarks to continue funding the federal government through the remainder of FY 2007 (through Sept. 30). President Bush called the moratorium “a good start” towards achieving fiscal discipline in Congress.

On January 31, 2007, the House passed a $463 billion continuing resolution to keep the federal government operating for the remainder of FY 2007 at FY 2006 spending levels (with some exceptions). It was approved by a 286-140 vote. House Appropriations Committee Chair Obey admitted the resolution had problems, stating “I don't expect people to love this proposal, I don't love this proposal, and we probably have made some wrong choices...At least we have made them in order to bring last year's issues to a conclusion so we can turn the page and deal with next year's priorities.” The White House indicated that President Bush would sign the measure.

Main article: Continuing resolution of 2007

In June 2007, House Republicans successfully stalled passage of the FY2008 appropriations bills over the issue of earmark disclosure. By June 14, however, a final deal had been forged by Appropriations Committee Chairman Obey, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio). The agreement still allowed the Homeland Security and Military Construction bills, which typically include few earmarks, to move to conference committee without earmarks, where they would then be added. The remaining 10 appropriations bills, however, would list their earmarks up front, and any earmarks later added in conference would be allowed to come up on the House floor upon final consideration.

When Republicans criticized the House version of the bill for cuts to the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) program in the House-passed resolution, Obey stated that the $3 billion excluded from the bill for BRAC would be added later in the year to an Iraq War spending bill.

Main article: Congressional actions on the federal budget/110th Congress



Obey (pronounced Obie) was born October 3, 1938 in Okmulgee, Oklahoma and grew up in Wausau, Wisconsin. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Congressional Career

He became a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1963, and served there until 1969, when he was elected to the House to replace Melvin R. Laird, who was appointed Secretary of Defense under President Richard Nixon. Obey, only thirty years old at the time of his election, became the youngest member of Congress upon taking his seat. He is now the third-longest serving Democrat in the House, after John Dingell and John Conyers.

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 that the public is made aware of any potential conflicts of interests.

2006 congressional elections

Obey defeated Republican Nick Reid to retain his seat.

Money in politics

This section contains links to – and feeds from – money in politics databases. For specific controversies, see this article's record and controversies section.

Campaign contribution data could not be found.

Links to more campaign contribution information for David Ross Obey
from the Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets.org site.
Fundraising profile: 2008 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by organization/corporation: 2008 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by industry: 2008 election cycle Career totals

Committees and Affiliations


Committees in the 110th Congress (2007-2008)

  • House Committee on Appropriations -Chair
    • Subcommittee on Agriculture -Ex Officio
    • Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science -Ex Officio
    • Subcommittee on Defense -Ex Officio
    • Subcommittee on Energy and Water -Ex Officio
    • Subcommittee on Financial Services -Ex Officio
    • Subcommittee on Homeland Security -Ex Officio
    • Subcommittee on Interior and Environment -Ex Officio
    • Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services -Ex Officio
    • Subcommittee on Legislative Branch -Ex Officio
    • Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans’ Affairs -Ex Officio
    • Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations -Ex Officio
    • Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development -Ex Officio
    • Subcommittee on Select Intelligence Oversight Panel -Ex Officio

Committee assignments in the 109th Congress (2005-2006)

  • House Committee on Appropriations - Ranking Minority Member
    • Subcommittee on Labor Health and Human Services Education and Related Agencies - Ranking Minority Member

Coalitions and Caucuses

  • Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
  • Democratic Steering Committee
  • Executive Committee, Democratic Study Group
  • Policy Committee
  • Steering Committee

More Background Data

Wikipedia also has an article on David Ross Obey. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.


DC office
  • 1013 Longworth House Office Building Washington, DC 20515
    Ph: 202-225-2523 Fax: 202-225-3404
    Webform email
District offices
  • 1401 Tower Avenue, Suite 307 Superior, WI 54880-1572
    Ph: 715-398-4426 Fax: (none entered)
  • First Star Plaza 401 5th Street, Suite 406 Wausau, WI 54403-5473
    Ph: 715-842-5606 Fax: (none entered)
On the Web
Campaign office
  • No campaign website entered.
  • No campaign webform email entered.
  • A Lot of People for Dave Obey P.O. Box 1322 Wausau, WI, 54403
    Ph: 715-849-2534 Fax: (none entered)

2008 Campaign Contact Information

Official Obey for Congress campaign website

A Lot of People for Dave Obey
P.O. Box 1322
Wausau, WI, 54403

Phone: 715-849-2534

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch resources


  1. Roll call vote, Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.
  2. Steven T. Dennis, "Obey Fires Up Debate on Iraq," Roll Call, October 3, 2007.
  3. Steven T. Dennis, "Obey Fires Up Debate on Iraq," Roll Call, October 3, 2007.


Local blogs and discussion sites


Semantic data (Edit data)