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Peter DeFazio is 19th Democrat to announce he's leaving the House

Congressman Peter DeFazio, the longest serving representative in Oregon's history and chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, announced Wednesday he wouldn't seek reelection in 2022. 

"It's time for me to pass the baton to the next generation so I can focus on my health and well-being," he wrote in a statement. "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."

UNITED STATES - JUNE 30: Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., speaks during a news conference on the INVEST in America Act in Washington on Wednesday, June 30, 2021.  Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

While DeFazio is the 19th House Democrat to either retire or run for another office this election cycle, his departure is in keeping with a trend of senior-ranking Democrats departing the House, such as John Yarmuth or G.K. Butterfield, amid doubts that Democrats will be able to hold the majority in 2022.

"Running every two years is pretty tough; it's a tough schedule. A lot of the people who are retiring have been in Congress a long time," he told CBS News in November. "If I was [a Republican], today-- yeah if the election was today, they'd take the House for sure. It's one year - a long year - until the next election."

DeFazio is an original founder of the Progressive Congressional Caucus that has bucked party leadership on the issues of transportation and international trade deals. He also led the investigation of the Federal Aviation Administration over the crashes of two Boeing 737-MAX airplanes in 2018 and 2019. 

Most recently, as chair of the House Transportation Committee, DeFazio helped shepherd the $1.2 billion infrastructure bill to passage.

"His legislative successes – including - 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," Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote in a statement about his retirement.

DeFazio was first elected in 1986 and enjoyed double-digit victories in every re-election until 2010. Since then, he has won with at least 55% of the vote. He had his closest victory margin in 2020, when he beat Republican Alex Skarlatos by six points in an expensive race where both candidates spent more than $5.2 million.

DeFazio's seat has been targeted by House Republicans since 2020 and Skarlatos has relaunched his campaign, though the southwest Oregon district was redrawn in September to be more politically friendly for Democrats. 

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