Narrow transportation

Transport leader up for grabs as DeFazio retires (1)

The future of Democrats’ transportation and infrastructure agenda will be shaped by a new voice in the next Congress.

Of the. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DD.C.) was the first lawmaker to announce her candidacy to succeed longtime President of House Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Who announced Wednesday that he would not seek re-election. Chairman of the Aviation Sub-Committee Rick larsen (Wash.) Is also interested in running for the top spot, according to his office.

Norton, who heads the highways and transit subcommittee, is higher than Larsen on the panel, but her delegate status prevents her from voting for or against the bills in the House. Delegates can present legislation and vote in committee, but it would be unusual for a president not to vote for key legislation that rolls out of his committee on the floor.

Chamber of Transport Speaker Peter DeFazio retires after 2022

Photo: Joshua Roberts / Reuters / Bloomberg

Of the. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DD.C.) speaks during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing in Washington, DC on October 7, 2021.

Norton Director of Communications Sharon Eliza Nichols Noted on Twitter that there is precedence for a delegate to head a committee, including Northwest Territories delegate William Henry Harrison, who became the first delegate in 1799 to head a committee, according to Congressional Research Service.

“She would make an excellent committee chair,” said the rep. Hank johnson (D-Ga.), Member of the transport committee. Johnson noted that with Rep. Eddie bernice johnson (D-Texas) also retiring, his seniority in the panel goes up, but that he would “probably” support Norton. He said he didn’t think it mattered that she couldn’t vote as president.

It’s unclear how many Democrats will compete for the top spot. Larsen’s staff said they always value the support of their colleagues.

representing Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Who chairs the Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management subcommittee, does not intend to run for the head of the committee, but wishes to lead the subcommittee on l aviation, said its spokesperson.

The focus of the committee – recently formed on surface transport reauthorization – is likely to change when the new chief takes the helm in January 2023. Federal aviation programs expire at the end of fiscal 2023 and could dominate group work that year.

DeFazio is one of 19 outgoing House Democrats who have announced they are not running for reelection as they face a narrow majority and the potential for Republicans to take control after next November’s election.

representing Sam Graves (R-Mo.), Who is currently a member of the transport committee, said he intends to continue leading the committee at the next Congress.

“I hate to see Peter go, we have a great relationship and you still hate losing friends,” Graves said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lillianna byington in Washington at [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Sarah babbage To [email protected]; Fawn Johnson To [email protected]