- Former Member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus
- His voting record consistently received a 95-to-100 percent rating from the leftwing Americans For Democratic Action
- Retired in January 2017
Sam Farr was born on July 4, 1941 in San Francisco. He grew up in a political home, as his father served for many years as a California state senator.
Sam Farr earned a degree in biology from Willamette University in Oregon in 1963, then studied Spanish at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and did Peace Corps work in Colombia from 1964-66. After returning to California, he worked as a staffer in the lower house of the California state legislature from 1965-75. In 1975 Farr was elected to the Monterey County board of supervisors and served there for five years. From 1980-93 he served as a Democrat in the California State Assembly. When veteran Democratic congressman Leon Panetta resigned in 1993 from the U.S. House of Representatives in order to take a position as head of President Bill Clinton‘s Office of Management and Budget, Farr won Panetta’s vacated seat (17th Congressional District of California) in a special election. He was subsequently re-elected by a wide margin in every congressional race thereafter until 2016, when he did not seek re-election.
In February 2002 Farr was part of a delegation of California congressional Democrats — among whom were such notables as Bob Filner and Diane Watson — who, along with entertainer Carole King, paid a friendly visit to Havana in an effort to promote a softening of American policy toward Fidel Castro‘s Cuba. In 2003 Farr co-sponsored a bill to ease restrictions against U.S. trade with Cuba.
In 2005 Farr joined the Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus.
In 2006 Farr was one of just 37 House Members who voted against the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act prohibiting U.S. aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian government “until it renounces violence, recognizes Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, and accepts all previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements.” The measure was supported by 361 House members and passed by unanimous consent in the Senate.
Farr was one of 27 Members of Congress to co-sponsor H. Res. 333, which Rep. Dennis Kucinich introduced on April 24, 2007. This bill set forth articles of impeachment against Vice President Dick Cheney, for having “purposely manipulated the intelligence process” to “deceive” American citizens and Congress alike “about a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and about an alleged relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda, to justify the use of the U.S. Armed Forces against Iraq in a manner damaging to U.S. national security interests.”
On December 22, 2009, Farr was one of 33 U.S. Representatives who signed a letter to Hillary Clinton, calling on the Secretary of State to pressure the Israeli government to end its ban on Palestinian student travel from Gaza to the West Bank. “We applaud your efforts to support educational opportunities for Palestinian youth, including your initiative to increase U.S. funding for Palestinian universities and educational programs in Gaza and the West Bank,” added the letter.
On January 27, 2010, Farr was one of 54 Members of Congress who signed a letter asking President Barack Obama to use diplomatic pressure to end Israel’s blockade of Gaza—a blockade which had been imposed in order to prevent the importation of weaponry from Iran and Syria.
In early 2013, Farr was one of dozens of prominent leftists who urged President Barack Obama to award, posthumously, the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the late Fred Ross Sr., a Saul Alinsky-trained radical who mentored both Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta.
Farr was a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus in the House of Representatives. Americans for Democratic Action consistently rated his voting record as 95 to 100 percent on the left side of legislation.
For an overview of Farr’s voting record on key pieces of legislation, click here.
Farr believes that:
- all women should have an unrestricted right to abortion-on-demand at any stage of pregnancy – subsidized by taxpayers, in cases of economic hardship;
- public and private employers alike should be legally required to implement affirmative-action hiring and promotion policies that give preference to African Americans and women, as compensation for historical injustices;
- the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is an excellent statute that can serve a strategic stepping stone toward the eventual implementation of a government-run, single-payer healthcare system;
- the principle of church-state separation is inviolable and should preclude permitting prayer in the public schools, or the posting of the Ten Commandments in public places;
- voucher programs designed to enable low-income parents to send their children to private schools rather than to failing public schools, constitute bad policy because they rob the public schools of vital resources;
- the death penalty is applied in a racially discriminatory manner, constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, and should be abolished;
- more guns in the hands of private citizens inevitably result in higher levels of crime, thus the availability of firearms should be restricted by whatever means are effective;
- restrictions on immigration are basically racist because they tend to prevent Hispanics and other non-whites from entering the United States;
- social services should be available to all U.S. residents regardless of their immigration status;
- illegal aliens should be offered amnesty if they have been productive members of society;
- U.S. defense spending should be scaled back dramatically;
- voter ID laws are, by and large, racially motivated attempts to suppress minority voting and should be eliminated;
- an ever-increasing reliance on “green energy” sources such as wind and solar should be put in place, along with the phasing out of fossil fuels, the imposition of carbon taxes, and the raising of vehicle CAFE standards;
- federal spending on infrastructure projects and job programs is crucial to the success of any economic recovery program; and
- the nationalization of banks and corporations is preferable to federal bailouts of those entities;
Farr retired from Congress in January 2017.