Fazio was born to a family of New England Yankee and Italian-American heritage in Winchester, Massachusetts. After graduating from Madison High School in Madison, NJ in 1960, Fazio attended Williston Academy in Easthampton, Massachusetts in 1961. He earned a B.A. from Union College in Schenectady, New York in 1965, and did graduate work at California State University in Sacramento, California from 1969 to 1972. From 1965-1966 he was a Coro Foundation Fellow in Los Angeles.
Fazio was a congressional and legislative consultant from 1966 to 1975, during which time he co-founded California Journal magazine in 1970. He served on the Sacramento County Charter Commission from 1972 to 1974, on the Sacramento County Planning Commission in 1975, and as a member of the California State Assembly from 1975 to 1978.
Fazio was a delegate to California state Democratic conventions in 1976 and 1978, and was a delegate to Democratic National Conventions of 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996.
Fazio was elected as a Democrat to the 96th and to the nine succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1979-January 3, 1999). He represented California's 4th congressional district from 1979 to 1993 and after redistricting changed district numbers he represented California's 3rd congressional district from 1993 to 1999.
As congressman, he lobbied to set aside area as a wildlife refuge below the I-80 overpass between Davis and Sacramento. His efforts led to the establishment of the Vic Fazio Yolo Wildlife Area, dedicated in 1997 by President Bill Clinton. The region is in Yolo County and is known to locals as the 'Yolo Bypass,' a seasonal wetlands generated by controlled fall, winter and spring flooding. The refuge provides valuable winter habitat for waterfowl and shorebirds. It is additionally used as a Pacific Flyway stop-over by migrant waterfowl and shorebirds during fall and spring migrations, and can be accessed for visitation by an auto tour route.
Fazio won his first seven terms without serious difficulty, but his district was made measurably more rural and Republican after the 1990s round of redistricting. He only won 51 percent of the vote in 1992 against former State Senator H.L. Bill Richardson. In 1994, he was nearly defeated, winning by only three percentage points. In 1996 he was elected by a larger margin, winning 54%. He announced he would not run for re-election in 1998, in November of the prior year.
Fazio currently works as a Senior Advisor in the Washington office of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and sits on the board of Northrop Grumman. He serves as co-chair of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a public policy think tank. He also sits on the Council on American Politics, bringing together leaders from across the nation to address issues facing the growth and enrichment of The Graduate School of Political Management at The George Washington University.