By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chair Peter DeFazio, a Democrat, said on Wednesday he will not seek re-election in 2022.
DeFazio, who has served in the House of Representatives since 1986, is the latest senior Democrat in Congress to announce a decision to not seek re-election, coming at a time when many expect Republicans may retake control of the House in the November 2022 midterm elections.
“For 36 years I have fought corporate greed and special interests,” the 74-year-old DeFazio, who is from Oregon, said in a statement. “It’s time for me to pass the baton to the next generation so I can focus on my health and well-being.”
DeFazio helped lead the effort to dramatically boost infrastructure spending and a comprehensive investigation into the safety of the Boeing 737 MAX.
DeFazio has been involved in key infrastructure issues. He also helped lead the effort to provide U.S. airlines with emergency government assistance after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and pressed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to get tough on passenger misbehavior.
The president of the Association of Flight Attendants, Sara Nelson, said DeFazio had been a champion for airline workers on issues “from fines and penalties for disruptive passengers and sexual assault, to evacuation standards and staffing requirements to stopping the spraying of poisonous pesticides in the cabin to fighting for child restraint seats for our youngest passengers.”
She noted DeFazio’s key role in the airline industry winning $54 billion in COVID-19 payroll assistance. “We owe our jobs and a functioning airline industry to Peter DeFazio,” Nelson said.
DeFazio helped win reforms of the FAA’s certification of new airplanes and the delegation of some responsibilities to manufacturers after two fatal Boeing 737 MAX crashes in five months killed 346 people. He’s continued to press the FAA on its oversight of Boeing.
He has also focused on efforts to combat climate change, especially through cutting emissions from the transportation sector and been a advocate for transit and rail.
(Reporting by David ShepardsonEditing by Leslie Adler)