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Al Ullman


Al Ullman

Albert Conrad "Al" Ullman
Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means
In office
December 10, 1974 – January 3, 1981
Preceded by Wilbur Mills
Succeeded by Dan Rostenkowski
Chairman of the House Committee on the Budget
In office
January 3, 1973 – January 3, 1975
Preceded by Committee established
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oregon's 2nd district
In office
January 3, 1957 – January 3, 1981
Preceded by Sam Coon
Succeeded by Denny Smith
Personal details
Born (1914-03-09)March 9, 1914
Great Falls, Montana
Died October 11, 1986(1986-10-11) (aged 72)
Bethesda, Maryland
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Audrey Ullman

Albert Conrad "Al" Ullman (March 9, 1914 - October 11, 1986), was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives who represented Oregon's 2nd congressional district from 1957 to 1981. One of the most influential Oregonians ever to be elected to Congress, along with Senator Wayne Morse, Ullman presided over the powerful House Committee on Ways and Means during a period of time in which he was deeply involved in shaping national policy on issues relating to taxation, budget reform, federal entitlement programs, international trade, and energy.


Ullman was born in Great Falls, Montana, and raised in Snohomish, Washington, where his father was a farmer and carpenter. In 1935, he graduated from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington (where he played football as a running end) with a degree in political science. After teaching American history and government at Port Angeles High School in Washington for two years, Ullman earned a master's degree in public law from Columbia University in 1939.

Later, from 1942 to 1945, he served as a communications officer with the United States Navy in the South Pacific during World War II. After the war, Ullman settled in Baker, Oregon (now known as Baker City) where, having taught himself how to design and build houses, he worked as a builder and real estate developer in the early 1950s.

Political career

Ullman first ran for Congress in Oregon's 2nd congressional district in 1954. In a year that was generally good for Democrats – especially in Oregon – he lost to Republican Sam Coon, following the resurrection of a two-year-old charge of a violation of the Real Estate Code. Even the Republican-leaning Oregonian considered the allegations to be politically motivated.[1] Ullman ran successfully for the seat in 1956, defeating Coon. Ullman won by waging a populist campaign focused on issues regarding public power, of which Ullman was a fierce proponent, and whether the hydroelectric development of Hells Canyon on the Snake River should be turned over to private interests, which Ullman opposed.[2]

Ullman represented one of the largest districts in the nation that did not cover an entire state. His district stretched from the state capital of Salem all the way to the Idaho border. It encompassed roughly 70,000 square miles (180,000 km2), an area larger than any state east of the Mississippi River-- and included alpine forest, rangeland, and desert. While in Washington, he devoted himself to the development of Oregon’s water resources and the improved management of public lands and national forests.

Committees Ullman served on:

For most of his Congressional career, Ullman was viewed as a moderate Democrat. Among other things, Ullman is regarded by many as the father of the present-day United States budget process. In 1973, he initiated and later co-chaired the Joint Study Committee on Budget Control, leading to major budget reforms which, for the first time, required Congress to reconcile spending with revenues in order to address mounting federal deficits. He also served as chairman of the new House Budget Committee in 1974.

In 1975, Ullman ascended to the chairmanship of the House's powerful Ways and Means Committee, on which he had served since 1961 (and as acting chairman since 1973). As chairman, he oversaw the drafting and enactment of numerous major tax reform bills. For example, as the New York Times noted, "Among Mr. Ullman's most important actions as committee chairman was his sponsorship of sweeping legislation to cut taxes in an effort to help shore up the United States economy. His bill, which gave more than $20 billion in income tax rebates to Americans in the spring of 1975, brought the Oregon Democrat national recognition after almost two decades of relatively quiet Congressional service." Ullman also played a central role with respect to other key legislation, including the Windfall Profits Tax Act of 1980 (P.L. 96-223), which redirected an estimated $79 billion (according to the Congressional Research Service) of oil companies' profits resulting from price deregulation toward support for mass transit, oil price relief for poor families, and the development of alternative energy sources.

On many regional issues, Ullman was a de facto leader of the Pacific Northwest's Congressional delegation, along with Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson (D-Wash.) and congressman (later to be House Speaker) Tom Foley (D-Wash.). In addition, Ullman was well known for his longstanding advocacy on behalf of American Indian tribes in Eastern Oregon, which he felt had historically been treated unjustly by the federal government with respect to treaty, land and other issues.[3]

In the midst of the "Reagan landslide" -- which also led to the defeat of President Jimmy Carter and the Republican takeover of the United States Senate -- Ullman narrowly lost his bid for a thirteenth term from the Second District to Republican challenger Denny Smith. Ullman's electoral defeat was widely attributed to the nationally prevalent anti-incumbent and anti-government mindset; the presence in his House race of an independent candidate; the increasing conservatism of the Second District; and to his advocacy for a value-added tax similar to that now used in the European Union and other nations as a partial alternative to what he viewed as inequities in the existing Federal income tax system.

After politics

After leaving office in 1981, Ullman remained in Capitol Hill staff. In 1981, Ullman gifted his extensive Congressional papers to the University of Oregon.[4] He lived in Arlington, Virginia and Falls Church, Virginia until his death due to prostate cancer on October 11, 1986.[5]


  1. ^ Swarthout, John M. (December 1954). "The 1954 Election in Oregon" 7 (4). The Western Political Quarterly. pp. 620–625. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Ex-Rep. Al Ullman dies of cancere

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Sam Coon
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oregon's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Denny Smith
Political offices
Preceded by
Wilbur Mills
Chairman of House Ways and Means Committee
Succeeded by
Dan Rostenkowski
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