Victor Fazio, Longtime Democratic Leader in the House, Dies at 79

Victor Fazio, a longtime Democratic member of Congress from California who served in House leadership for several years, died on March 16 at his home in Arlington, Va. He was 79.

The cause was cancer, according to a statement from his former congressional office.

Mr. Fazio represented the Sacramento area from 1979 to 1999. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, he helped bring home funding for numerous projects, including a multimillion-dollar environmental institute at the University of California, Davis. He also lobbied for the funds to protect 3,700 acres of wetlands west of Sacramento as a refuge; dedicated by President Bill Clinton in 1997, it is known as the Vic Fazio Yolo Wildlife Area.

Known for his low-key, bipartisan style, he often worked in partnership with the powerful California Republican representative Jerry Lewis, who died last year.

Perhaps Mr. Fazio’s most difficult period was his tenure as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 1994 — the year that Republicans, led by Representative Newt Gingrich, took control of the House for the first time in 40 years.