Congress has great interest in Aviation and the FAA
Chair DeFazio has been on Transportation & Infrastructure every year since 1986
Served on all subcommittees and cites aviation, safety and security as one of his Legacies
The Tiger of the House, a title emulating one of his heroes, Sen. Wayne Morse [D-OR], has announced that he will not seek reelection in 2023 and will retire at the end of the 117th Congress. Chair DeFazio gave an illuminating interview [see below], an appropriate excuse to review his Congressional Record and political roots.
Chair DeFazio was born in 1947 in Needham, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. His great-uncle helped reinforce his legislative attitude by ALWAYS following the word “Republican” in any statement without “bastard” or “bastud”, as a Boston accent translates into the local jargon.
A graduate of Needham High School in 1965, DeFazio then earned his college degree at nearby Tufts University an elite academic institution (AB 1969) and from there went on to serve in the US Air Force Reserve (1967 to 1971; 2nd Lt.). In 1977 he earned an MA in gerontology from the University of Oregon.
After leaving the USAFR, DeFazio went to work on Rep. James Howard Weaver’s (D-OR) staff, 1977-1982. It appears that politics and the people of his boss’ district attracted him and soon thereafter, DeFazio was elected a member of the Lane County, OR, board of commissioners, 1983-1986,and eventually as chair, 1985-1986. He moved back to the US House, this time as a Representative, by being elected in 1986 (the One Hundredth Congress) and to the seventeen succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1986-present).
Since then, Rep. DeFazio established a legislative record with incredibly deep record in all aspects of transportation- assigned to the T&I Committee in his first term. During his time on the Committee, he has served as Chair or Ranking Member of four of the six subcommittees: Aviation, Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, Highways and Transit, and Water Resources and Environment.
DeFazio has taken a lead role on several multibillion-dollar FAA reauthorization bills, and worked to strengthen safety standards, worker protections, and Buy America requirements.
In 2020, Chair DeFazio also led the successful passage of bipartisan the Aircraft Certification, Safety, and Accountability Act, which reforms and strengthens the FAA’s aircraft certification process in the wake of two deadly Boeing 737 MAX crashes and reflects the findings from the Committee’s 18-month investigation into the design, development and certification of the MAX.
The Chair evidenced his broad policy horizon, having participated in these 22 caucuses:
- Animal Protection Caucus
- Bike Caucus
- Coast Guard Caucus
- Community Health Care Caucus
- Congressional Arts Caucus
- Congressional Biomass Caucus
- Congressional NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus
- Congressional Progressive Caucus 1992, he co-founded
- Healthy Forest Caucus
- House Small Brewer’s Caucus (Founder and Co-Chair)
- Human Rights Caucus
- Indian Caucus
- Northwest Energy Caucus (Co-Chair)
- Organic Caucus (Co-Chair)
- Populist Caucus
- Pro-Choice Caucus
- Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus
- Rural Caucus
- Sportsmen’s Caucus
- United States Congressional International Conservation Caucus
- Veterinary Medicine Caucus
- Waterways Caucus
In his absence, it is unclear who will lead the T&I committee, much of the doubt derives from the political pundits’ prediction for the Fall ’22 election. Many experts see the Republicans regaining the bigger wing. If the House flips, the new chair might well be Rep. Graves (R-MO); if the Democrats hold, Rep. Larsen (D-WA) or Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC) might assume leadership of the full committee. GovTrack’s analysis finds Graves to be moderately conservative, Larson’s ideology profile the same as DeFazio’s and Norton further left than all but one Member.
Chair DeFazio has been a very frequent subject here; a few posts on the Oregonian:
By Hannah Northey, Arianna Skibell | 04/27/2022 06:35 AM EDT
Rep. Peter DeFazio, chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, will soon end his 35-year political career, but the Oregon Democrat insists he’s not going to fall off the map completely.
“I’ll probably do some consulting work for people I like and support,” DeFazio told E&E News during a recent interview. “And I’ve got a boat here. It’s a cheap way to live.”
DeFazio, the longest-serving member of Congress in Oregon’s history and co-founder of the House Progressive Caucus, opted to retire from his perch representing the state’s 4th District after checking major wins off his to-do list — and facing some major frustrations.
DeFazio last year publicly erupted after he was boxed out of negotiations surrounding President Joe Biden’s signature $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, calling the bill “crap.”
The final package failed to include DeFazio’s more ambitious “INVEST in America Act” to tackle greenhouse gas emissions, even though the congressman successfully moved it through the House twice, a situation DeFazio blames on a “dysfunctional Senate.”
DeFazio said the bill would have been “massive” for dealing with the existential threat of climate change. The transportation sector is the single largest source of carbon pollution in the country.
Yet DeFazio is now working with Biden officials like Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to push through similar reforms. The Transportation Department included DeFazio’s “fix-it-first” approach in recent guidance to states, much to Republican lawmakers’ chagrin (E&E Daily, March 3).
The climate hawk is also quick to note his long legacy includes improvements to aviation safety, the largest expansion of Wild and Scenic Rivers in the lower 48, permanent protection of wilderness areas throughout his home state of Oregon, banning the export of logs on federal lands to protect old-growth forests, and big financial boosts to the nation’s water sector.
The congressman said he’s hoping to return to those very same wilderness areas — to hike and boat — after he retires from Congress. But he’s also planning to return to spend time in Washington’s Capital Yacht Club, a community in the heart of the historic wharf on the Potomac River.
What do you see as your legacy?
I think it’s more a list than any singular bill. I have spent a lot of time and effort on aviation, aviation security and safety. A lot of legacy on environmental issues, a lot that affect my home state.
[Former Republican Rep. John Mica] and I created the Transportation Safety Administration after [the 9/11 terrorist attacks]. Before then, the airlines were in charge of hiring the screeners, and they had never found anybody that they would reject with a low bid contract, including a couple of felons out of Pennsylvania who were running screening services.
Way back after the  ValuJet crash, the committee finally accepted something I’ve been trying to do for quite a few years, which is to say that the [Federal Aviation Administration] did not have a dual mandate to promote the industry and regulate the industry.
You’ve been referred to as the “Tiger of the House.”
That’s a great compliment because my hero, former Oregon [Democratic] Sen. Wayne Morse, was the Tiger of the Senate.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity. For the JJ post, the editing was intended to focus on aviation.
 Interesting interview with his alma mater Peter DeFazio, A69, LooksBack on His 35 Years in the U.S. House of Representatives
 The Act provides a record-level investment of $547 billion, including $109 billion for public transit, unprecedented investment in walking and biking, and $400 million for wildlife crossings.
Transportation is America’s number one source of greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. To tackle climate change, the INVEST in America Act provides $4 billion for electric vehicle charging infrastructure; another $4.085 billion for zero-emission buses; and $8.3 billion to reduce carbon pollution. The bill also preserves National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements to assess the environmental impacts of transportation projects, and requires transportation planners to incorporate climate impacts and safety for people walking and biking.
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