WASHINGTON — Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., announced Wednesday he will retire from Congress, adding to the growing list of Democrats who will be leaving next year as Republicans hope to take control of the chamber.
"It's time for me to pass the baton to the next generation so I can focus on my health and well-being," said DeFazio in a statement. The congressman has served for 36 years and is currently the chair of the House Transportation Committee.
DeFazio, 74, added it was a "tough decision at a challenging time for our republic with the very pillars of our democracy under threat."
DeFazio's district had a slight Republican advantage, but Oregon's redistricting process this year made the seat safer for Democrats. The Cook Political Report moved the district from a Republican one-point advantage to a Democrat four-point advantage.
DeFazio was deeply involved with negotiations surrounding President Joe Biden's infrastructure plan, which was signed into law last month. The $555 billion infrastructure law includes $7.5 billion to build a nationwide network of electric vehicle charging stations, as well as billions of dollars for highways, roads, bridges, internet access and clean water.
The number of House Democrats who have already decided to retire or run for another office has steadily increased, compounding the party's woes for next year's midterm elections.
The Democrats control the House by eight seats, 221 to 213, going into the midterms next year. Besides DeFazio, 18 other Democrats have announced that they're not running for re-election, compared to a dozen Republicans.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., sang DeFazio's praises in a statement following his announcement, 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," said Pelosi.
DeFazio said there is still work to do in his remaining time in office, including helping to pass the Build Back Better package, which is another major part of Biden's legislative agenda.