He is the longest-serving member of Congress in Oregon history.
DeFazio, 74, a Springfield resident, won his seat in 1986 and has risen to the chairmanship of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, which has jurisdiction over the U.S. Coast Guard, interstate highways and transit, ports and water resources, railroads, aviation, and economic development.
As a longtime member of that committee, DeFazio played a central role in shaping and passing President Joe Biden’s trillion-dollar infrastructure bill last month. When Biden signed the bill Nov. 15, DeFazio called it “the largest investment in America’s infrastructure in a generation.”
“This historic law will help address the climate crisis, create good-paying jobs, and boost American competitiveness by upgrading our roads, bridges, rail, transit, drinking water, and wastewater infrastructure,” DeFazio added. “I’m proud of the role the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee played in setting a high bar for this legislation.”
Although there will doubtless be several candidates eager to take over the seat that DeFazio held for 35 years, two likely contenders in the Democratic primary are Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle, who formerly served as the House majority leader representing Eugene, and state Sen. Sara Gelser Blouin (D-Corvallis).
Republican Alek Skarlatos, who challenged DeFazio in 2020, is the leading GOP contender for the seat.
DeFazio did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), who represents the 3rd Congressional District, praised his longtime colleague.
“As Peter DeFazio announces his retirement after 36 years in Congress, he has earned the reputation as the most knowledgeable and influential member of either chamber and of either party when it comes to transportation and infrastructure,” Blumenauer said in a statement.
“Peter may not be the tallest member of the Oregon delegation, but he is a legislative giant in the mold of his hero, Wayne Morse.”
Oregon’s senior U.S. senator, Ron Wyden, paid tribute to DeFazio as well.
“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. Thanks to Peter DeFazio, roads, bridges and transportation systems in Oregon and nationwide are stronger, last longer and are cleaner and greener,” Wyden said.
“Oregonians always know with full confidence that Peter stands proudly in the vanguard of the battle for good jobs, strong transportation and ensuring everybody gets a fair shake. I very much look forward to working with my friend for the rest of his term as he continues to build on that outstanding legacy that’s helped countless Oregonians in his district and statewide.”