House Transportation Chair becomes the nineteenth Democrat to announce exit from Pelosi’s majority

On Wednesday, House Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio became the 19th Democrat to announce his retirement from Congress.

Mr. DeFazio, who has represented Oregon’s 4th congressional district since 1987, has announced that he will not seek re-election next year.

“It is time to pass the task on to the best generation so that I can focus on my health and well-being,” said Mr. DeFazio. “This was a difficult decision at a challenging time for our Republic where the pillars of our democracy are under threat, but I am supported by the passion and principles of my colleagues in Congress and the ingenuity and determination of young Americans who are civic engagement and action for change.”

The exodus of Democratic incumbents is much greater than that faced by Democrats before the 2010 elections, when the party lost 63 seats in the House of Representatives.

Republicans were quick to point to Mr. DeFazio’s retirement as evidence that the political environment is corrupting Democrats.

“Committee chairs don’t retire unless they know their majority is gone,” said Courtney Parilla, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Congress committee. “Nancy Pelosi’s days as a speaker are numbered.”

The House Transportation Committee Chairman has been a staunch ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat. Earlier this year, that relationship was put to the test when the House of Representatives took up President Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure package.

Mr DeFazio initially rejected a “rubber seal” on the proposal, which was negotiated by a bipartisan group of senators and the White House. In particular, Mr. DeFazio tried to change the package to include more funding for public transportation and climate change programs.

“Right now, they just want to send the bipartisan bill and say we have to take it,” Mr. DeFazio said at the time. “Which I am not willing to do. … I am not taking it.”

After lobbying from Ms. Pelosi and the White House, Mr. DeFazio dropped his opposition and passed the Senate bill wholesale. Since then, however, he has tried to re-list the programs left from that package into Biden’s larger welfare bill, $1.75 trillion.

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