WASHINGTON D.C. – Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio announced Wednesday he’s retiring next year after 36 years of public service. The move may come as a surprise to many as he’s currently the chair of The U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and actively involved in Democrats’ infrastructure plans.
Rep. Peter DeFazio is the longest-serving House Representative from Oregon. His colleagues in congress tell me whoever is elected to his position next fall has some big shoes to fill.
“This hasn’t been an easy decision,” said Rep. DeFazio. “I need a little more time for myself, for my health and wellbeing, for my wife and family, and for the things I love in Oregon”.
His colleagues in the Senate were saddened to hear the news as his role in Democrats’ infrastructure plans this year have been instrumental in the parties’ policies.
“He has been a huge leader on infrastructure in America, putting people to work fairly, labor standards, increasing wages for Americans, and so many other issues. It’s a really huge changing of the guard and he is going to be greatly missed,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley.
While Senator Ron Wyden was unavailable for an interview, he said in a statement, “Peter DeFazio blends all the best qualities of a top-notch legislator – he’s an effective, passionate, and powerful advocate who always puts the best interests of his constituents first.”
As the longtime congressman prepares to begin his final year in office next month his congressional district is growing. And a huge political fight is brewing to see who represents Eugene, Springfield, and much of Southwest Oregon.
“I will fully endorse, support, and assist the democratic nominee. At this point, I’m not choosing a successor,” said Rep. DeFazio.
DeFazio said after more than 3 decades of public service, there’s no question he’s seeing a change in American politics and hopes more common ground can be found.
“In the old days in the minority, particularly in infrastructure, we could work across the aisle. Now the 13 republicans who had the guts to vote for my infrastructure bill are being threatened on being removed from their committees, they’re getting death threats,” said Rep. DeFazio.
DeFazio was up for re-election next November, but with mid-term elections generally favoring the party not in the White House, he could have faced a tough re-election fight.
Representative DeFazio said he’ll continue to live in Oregon.
He has 13 months left in office. He told NBC5 News that he’s now going to be focusing on passing the Build Back Better Act.