Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), who has spent nearly three decades in Congress, announced Monday night that he does not plan to seek reelection next year.
“I have dedicated my career to creating livable communities where people are safe, healthy, and economically secure,” Blumenauer, 75, said in a Facebook post announcing his upcoming retirement. “This mission has guided my involvement on a wide range of issues that have been very rewarding for me and productive for our community. Now, it is time to refocus on a narrower set of priorities.”
In a half a century of public service — roughly two-thirds of his life — Blumenauer has also served as a state legislator, county commissioner and city council member in Oregon. He was first elected to Congress in a special election in 1996 to succeed then-Rep. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who had been elected to the Senate.
Known for his signature bow ties and bike lapel pins, Blumenauer has been a policy advocate for public transportation, housing, sustainability and marijuana reforms. He currently serves as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, and is the ranking Democrat on the Subcommittee on Trade. He also founded the Congressional Bike Caucus, which advocates for safer streets and other pro-bicyclist policies.
Blumenauer’s congressional district, which includes Portland and Mount Hood, has been a Democratic stronghold and he is expected to be succeed by another Democrat.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) tweeted that Blumenauer has long “been a powerful force in the policy and politics of Oregon and America.”
“He is a national leader on issues from urban transportation and housing to climate and cannabis. I so thank him for his over 50 years of public service,” Merkley said.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) credited Blumenauer with helping craft key legislation.
“As a senior Member of the Committee on Ways and Means, he was an architect of the single largest investment in addressing climate change in our nation’s history,” Jeffries said in a statement, adding that “as Chair of the Subcommittee on Trade, Earl ensured that the bipartisan United States Mexico Canada Trade Agreement protected American workers.”
“Earl and his bicycle pins will be greatly missed after the conclusion of this term and I wish him and his family the best as he begins this next chapter,” Jeffries said.