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Congressman Earl Blumenauer Announces He Will Not Seek Re-Election
Blumenauer has dedicated more than 50 years of public service to Oregon, serving Oregon’s 3rd Congressional District in the House for 27 years.
PORTLAND, OR—Today, Congressman Earl Blumenauer announced he will not seek re-election to Congress in 2024. Blumenauer is nationally recognized for his leadership on transportation and infrastructure, bikes, and federal cannabis reform. Blumenauer released the following statement:
“For fifty years, I have served in elected office at every level—as a State Legislator, Multnomah County Commissioner, Portland City Council member, and for 27 years as a member of Congress. It is a difficult decision. Particularly after the amazing success of the last several years. But simply said, it is time to continue my life’s mission without the burden of day-to-day politics.
“I have dedicated my career to creating livable communities where people are safe, healthy, and economically secure. This mission has guided my involvement in Congress on a wide range of issues. I may best be known in Portland for work on light rail, streetcars, and bicycles. But our work also included critical issues of war and peace, championing the fight to end the failed war on drugs, helping to write the Affordable Care Act, rescuing independent restaurants, food and farm policy, animal welfare, and writing the single largest investment in renewable energy in history.
“I look forward to continuing championing livable communities starting right here in Portland and being a resource and a partner for the next generation.”
During his more than 27-year career in Congress, Congressman Earl Blumenauer has been at the forefront of every major issue of our time. His innovative approaches to controversial issues build bipartisan support for real results. Some of these accomplishments are:
- Leading the Ways and Means Committee to craft provisions included in the single largest measure to combat the climate crisis in American history: the Inflation Reduction Act.
- Securing more than $1.5 trillion in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the largest investment in rebuilding and renewing America in history. This included historic amounts of funding for active transportation: a 70% increase in bike and pedestrian funding and the creation of a $1 billion Safe Streets and Roads for All program.
- Saving more than 100,000 restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic by creating the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund.
- Expanding health care coverage for more than 500,000 Oregonians through the Affordable Care Act, including a new Medicare benefit for end-of-life care planning.
- Providing key leadership in opposition to America’s misadventures in the tragic wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. With the late Senators John McCain and Ted Kennedy, he passed legislation to create a pathway to legal permanent status for Iraqi and Afghan nationals who directly supported the U.S. military mission in their country.
- As a local elected official and member of Congress, Blumenauer was responsible for the development of Portland’s innovative transit system, including the light rail and streetcar system. This includes building out Portland’s bike network, making Portland internationally recognized as one of the nation’s most livable cities.
- Became Congress’ leading champion in ending the failed war on drugs. He founded the Congressional Cannabis Caucus as a forum to educate members of Congress about federal cannabis policy initiatives, authored the legislative blueprint for federal legalization and has campaigned in every successful state legalization effort.
- Created a national bike movement shaping communities large and small. He is recognized as one of the top 25 change makers in cycling history. He founded the Congressional Bicycle Caucus to bring members of Congress together to practice bike-partisanship. Since established in 1996, the Caucus has successfully secured a $2.45 billion increase in federal funding for biking and walking and created a tax benefit for commuters biking to work.
- Became recognized as an environmental champion for protecting resources across America. Here in Oregon, his legislation protected 127,000 acres of wilderness and 80 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers in the Mt. Hood National Forest and Columbia River Gorge, preserving these special places for generations to come.
- Authored the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act, the most comprehensive piece of international water policy to date affecting the lives of hundreds of millions of people. Blumenauer is recognized as a preeminent champion for water and sanitation.
- Championed major legislation to stop imports of illegally harvested timber from around the world into the United States. This became a model for countries around the world.
- Created the Small Starts program to help streetcar projects across the country receive federal funding and technical assistance. This program led to over 22 streetcar projects around the country so far, including three in Portland.
U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer is calling it a career.
The 75-year-old Portland congressman — for more than a quarter century a Capitol Hill ambassador of sorts for his hometown — announced Monday he will not seek reelection next year.
“I have concluded that my personal time and energy will be better spent not involved in campaigning,” Blumenauer told OPB, adding he wants to spend time instead focusing on his priorities at the local level. “I want to help put Portland back together.”
The decision caps a career in public service that has spanned more than two thirds of Blumenauer’s life. And it comes as some of the policies that he has fought most closely to pass are showing glimmers of promise if Democrats can retake the House next year
Blumenauer, known for taking on his share of long-shot proposals, says he’s coming off a major win in helping steer record investments in green energy as part of the Inflation Reduction Act, the signature climate legislation signed by President Joe Biden last year. He says he’s set the stage for some of his other top priorities, including loosening federal cannabis policy, to pass into law.
The past several weeks, Blumenauer said, have been “an opportunity to step back and reflect on what would be accomplished if I ran for reelection. Most of these things have been done or are in the pipeline.”
News of Blumenauer’s retirement would once have set off a frenzy of interest among ambitious Democrats. Rooted in deep-blue Portland, the 3rd Congressional District is a safe stronghold for the party, and likely to offer whoever win’s next year’s primary the prospect of a lengthy congressional career.
Cannabis Business Times
U.S. House Rep. Earl Blumenauer, 75, who has spent his entire political career advocating for cannabis reform, announced Oct. 30 that he will not seek reelection to the U.S. House in 2024.
The bowtie-wearing Democrat was first elected in 1972 to the Oregon House of Representatives and has held public office ever since, including the last 27 years representing Oregon’s 3rd Congressional District in the U.S. House.
During his first term in state politics in 1973, Oregon became the first state in the nation to decriminalize cannabis—reducing the penalty for up to 1 ounce to a $100 fine. From that moment on, Blumenauer became an outspoken supporter for legalization, not just decriminalization.
“I am proud that for more than 50 years I have championed the effort to end the failed war on drugs and decriminalize cannabis,” he said Monday in a statement provided to Cannabis Business Times. “I have helped make cannabis reform a mainstream position in American politics and been involved in every successful state legalization initiative. We have set the stage for the final steps of legalization and racial justice.”
In 2012, Blumenauer formed an alliance with then-Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., who is now Colorado’s governor. The two began hosting meetings for congressional staff and advocates to talk about the need for sensible federal cannabis policy.
Blumenauer went on to author a noteworthy report on cannabis, “The Path Forward: Rethinking Federal Marijuana Policy” that served to build a base of bipartisan support in Congress. This was the beginning of the Marijuana Working Group, which by 2017 became the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, which Blumenauer founded with Polis and former Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., and the belated Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska.
The Congressional Cannabis Caucus was established to harmonize federal laws that conflict with state laws allowing for medical and adult-use cannabis. Notably, this caucus was formed to create a bipartisan forum for congressional members to engage, discuss and learned about the need to establish a more rational approach to federal cannabis policy.
This forum also served as a launching pad for transforming cannabis policies during the 116th Congress, when the U.S. House first passed the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act as a standalone measure in 2019 by way of a bipartisan vote, 321-103. This legislation passed the House seven times from 2019 to 2022 but hit roadblocks in the Senate each time.
In a continued effort to ensure state-licensed cannabis businesses can access critical financial services and provide public safety at retail facilities, Blumenauer remains a primary sponsor of the SAFE Banking Act this Congress.
“This legislation will save lives and livelihoods. It is past time that Congress addresses the irrational, unfair, and unsafe prohibition of basic banking services to state-legal cannabis businesses,” he said in April.