DeFazio becomes 19th House Democrat to retire

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) is seen outside the House Chamber as the House conducts the first votes of the week on Monday, July 19, 2021.
Greg Nash

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) on Wednesday announced he planned to retire from Congress, becoming the 19th House Democrat to opt against running for reelection in 2022. 

“It’s time for me to pass the baton to the next generation so I can focus on my health and well-being. This was a tough decision at a challenging time for our republic with the very pillars of our democracy under threat, but I am bolstered by the passion and principles of my colleagues in Congress and the ingenuity and determination of young Americans who are civically engaged and working for change,” DeFazio, 74, said in a statement.

The congressman, who serves as the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said that he will continue to work on passing President Biden’s social and climate spending bill, known as the Build Back Better Act, during the remainder of his term. 

“I still have a lot of work to do in my remaining 13 months and I’ll be putting all of my efforts into that work, including helping to pass the Build Back Better Act that will bring down costs for families, create jobs, fight the climate crisis and help Americans get ahead,” he said. 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) released her own statement on DeFazio’s retirement, calling him “an absolute force for progress.” 

“Chairman DeFazio is known and respected by all as a champion of sustainable, smart and green infrastructure, whose progressive values, passion and persistence have helped rebuild America and the middle class,” Pelosi said.  

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) also praised DeFazio in a statement, calling him “a fighter on behalf of the American people.”

“Over the past 34 years, he has built an incredible record of service to the people of Oregon and our entire country — helping to deliver some of the most transformative pieces of legislation in recent history,” Maloney said. 

DeFazio joins a growing list of exiting House Democrats ahead of next year’s midterm elections.

On Monday, Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.) announced he will not be running for election in Congress and will instead run for governor next year. Reps. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) and Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) also announced last month they would not be seeking reelection. 

House Republicans have celebrated the Democratic retirements, saying they’re a sign of what could be an uphill climb for the majority party in the midterms. 

“Committee Chairs don’t retire unless they know their majority is gone. Nancy Pelosi’s days as Speaker are numbered,” said National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee spokeswoman Courtney Parella. 

So far, 10 House Republicans have announced they are retiring or running for another office.  

Tags G.K. Butterfield Joe Biden Nancy Pelosi Peter DeFazio

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