Tom Petri, who represents Wisconsin's 6th Congressional District, is serving his 15th term in the U.S. House of Representatives. First elected in April 1979, Petri has been returned to office every two years since.
Petri is the Ranking Republican on the Aviation Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He served for 12 years as Chairman of that committee's Highways, Transit and Pipelines Subcommittee and of an earlier subcommittee with similar responsibilities.
He is a former Vice Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, now named the Committee on Education and Labor.
From 1987 through 1990, Petri served as a member of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, better known as the House Ethics Committee.
Petri is a former Chairman of the House British-American Parliamentary Group, an official organization formed to strengthen relations with the British Parliament.
A persistent foe of government waste, Petri has repeatedly earned high marks from such organizations as the National Taxpayers Union, the Concord Coalition, Citizens Against Government Waste, Americans for Tax Reform, and the Watchdogs of the Treasury. Over many years he has repeatedly been named a "Guardian of Small Business" by the National Federation of Independent Business, and has won the "National Security Leadership Award" from the American Security Council.
Petri is known for his efforts to apply innovative solutions to problems, with a firm commitment to cost-effectiveness. Accordingly, Norm Ornstein, a prominent political scholar and expert on Congress has called Petri "one of the most thoughtful members of Congress, filled with lots of ideas about how to make government better," while senior Washington Post columnist David Broder has called him "a notably independent, creative legislator.
Important Petri legislative initiatives have included those in the areas of student loan reform, the allocation of money for federal highway spending, cost-sharing for federal water projects, tax and welfare reform, banking policy, campaign reform, and health care reform. The 1996 Almanac of American Politics states that Petri specializes in "thoughtful and original solutions to problems" which "cut across ideological and party lines."
Petri attended Goodrich High School in Fond du Lac and received undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard. He served in the Peace Corps and in the White House focusing on anti-drug efforts. He is married to Anne Neal Petri and has one daughter, Alexandra.