Dec. 8, 2021 — On Dec. 1, longtime Oregon District 4 U.S House of Representatives member Peter DeFazio announced he will retire when his current term of service expires at the end of 2022.
DeFazio has served the people of the fourth congressional district for 36 years, winning reelection 18 times, and rising to become the chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
DeFazio received a master’s degree from the University of Oregon and worked as a congressional aide to Congressman Jim Wheeler from 1977-1982. He then served as a Lane County Commissioner from 1983 until he was elected to Congress in 1987.
“With humility and gratitude, I am announcing that I will not seek re-election next year. It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve as Congressman for the Fourth District of Oregon,” DeFazio said. “For 36 years. I have fought corporate greed and special interests to benefit Oregon’s working families — from delivering affordable health care under the Affordable Care Act, to preventing the privatization and destruction of the Social Security safety net, to protecting our natural treasures for future generations, to fighting trade policies that undermine American workers, to holding industry and regulators accountable to improve aviation safety, to asserting congressional war powers authority to stop endless wars, to making historic job-creating investments in our roads, bridges, ports and more under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Thank you for putting your trust in me.”
DeFazio’s legislative record includes important work in the areas of job growth, infrastructure improvements and safeguarding of natural resources. He also received bipartisan support for his focus on improving the federal highway funding formula to bring home an additional $1.3 billion in funding to Oregon for roads, bridges and surface transportation projects.
During his tenure, he has sponsored legislative initiatives which banned the export of logs from federal lands to protect old growth forests, established a U.S. Department of Agriculture organics standard to empower consumers and support organic farmers and succeeded in permanently protecting over 390,000 acres of wilderness in the State of Oregon.
These protections covered an area half the size of Rhode Island, including the creation of the Devil’s Staircase Wilderness, Copper Salmon Wilderness, Newberry National Volcanic Monument, Steen’s Mountain Wilderness, Oregon Caves National Monument and River Styx —the only underground Wild and Scenic River in America.
DeFazio’s work with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi covered a wide range of issues on which they worked and due to the unusually long time the two spent as colleagues, they had a strong working and personal relationship.
“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. His legislative successes – including expanding preservation and conservation efforts, protecting affordable health care, advancing tribal sovereignty, rebuilding our highways, ensuring aviation safety and, most recently, helping pass the historic, once-in-a-century Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Build Back Better Act – leave an outstanding legacy of progress for America’s children and future,” Pelosi said.
The recognition of educational disparities among families residing in his district led DeFazio to forgo all raises during his representation and channeled those monies to scholarships for 295 Oregon students.
And an issue which DeFazio championed for more than 20 years, unlocking up to $3 billion annually in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund meant to increase small harbor funding by 50 percent, was passed in 2020.
DeFazio also sponsored legislation last year to support rural health providers, securing $27 million, with $2.8 million coming to Lane County and $2 million specifically to Florence.
Pelosi said she wished DeFazio the best after his retirement and spoke directly to his constituents regarding his work over the past four decades.
“For decades, the people of southwest Oregon have had an outstanding champion for jobs, clean energy and conservation. Our Democratic Caucus will miss a trusted voice and valued friend,” Pelosi said. “On behalf of the House, I thank his wife Myrnie for sharing him with the Congress and Country and wish them both the best in their next chapter together.”
DeFazio will remain on the job for the next 13 months before retiring to the Springfield home he has lived in with his wife and partner for more than 40 years.
“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 said. “I owe a deep debt of gratitude to my incredibly talented and dedicated staff who have worked tirelessly on behalf of Oregonians and all Americans. I especially want to thank my wife Myrnie Daut, whose strength, encouragement and counsel has made my career possible.”
For more information, visit www.defazio.house.gov.