Vic Fazio

Victor Fazio, a Democratic congressman from California who served for 20 years and became an influential party leader in the House, has died. He was 79.

Nancy Pelosi announced Fazio’s death Wednesday, though she did not provide details. She called Fazio a close friend who “was a force in helping unite and rally our members in the fight for America’s families.

From 1979 to 1999, Fazio represented the Sacramento area as a member of the House Appropriations and Armed Services committees. He was elected chairman of the House Democratic caucus the next year and served for four years.

“He was an incredibly sharp, passionate legislator, but someone who also cared deeply about those whose voice was often not heard in Washington,” Representative Doris Matsui said in a statement. “He could just as easily talk to a farmer or a big-city mayor. My late husband, Bob Matsui, and I considered Vic a close friend for over 30 years. He worked to make our country a better place with his civility and ability to find common ground.”

Fazio also faced criticism and defeats. In 1994, when the Republicans won control of the House for the first time in 40 years, he was the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair.
A well-known environmental activist, he was known for his ability to obtain government funding for local projects. The Vic Fazio Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area includes a vast wetland and wildlife preserve between Sacramento and Davis. President Clinton dedicated the area in 1997.

Vic Fazio
Vic Fazio

Following his retirement from Congress, Fazio worked in public relations in Washington, D.C., before joining a law firm and retiring in 2020.