LOUISVILLE (Ky.) -- Democratic U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth announced Tuesday that he would not be seeking another term as chairman of the House Budget Committee. Yarmuth was a key player in President Joe Biden’s push for expanding the nation's social security net.
Yarmuth was first elected to Congress in 2006 when he defeated a Republican incumbent from his Louisville-area congressional district. He stated that he wants to spend more time with family.
This is the 10th announcement by a Democrat that he will be retiring before the 2022 election. The district he represents is becoming more blue. However, the retirement by a Democrat in a high-ranking leadership role sends a warning signal about the party's prospects heading into next year’s midterms when it will have a slim majority in both U.S. Congress chambers. The party that gains control of the White House usually loses congressional seats in subsequent elections, as did President Donald Trump and Republicans in 2018.
Yarmuth, the only Democrat in Kentucky's six-member U.S. House delegation, is Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell, both Republicans. His district is one of few remaining Democratic strongholds. The GOP legislators in Kentucky have not yet revealed how they plan to redraw the congressional boundaries. This is required now that 2020 census results have been released.
Morgan McGarvey (State Sen. in Kentucky), was quickly announced that he would be running for the seat. Attica Scott, the state representative, was already challenging Yarmuth in the primary. However, the veteran congressman was considered to be the prohibitive favorite to win reelection next. Aaron Yarmuth told Courier Journal that his father is interested in running for the seat.
John Yarmuth will turn 75 in the final term. He said that he is in good health, but that the job's "significant physical demands" will make it more difficult.
In a Twitter video, he stated that "The truth is told, I never imagined to be in Congress for this long." He also said that he was surprised by the response. I have always maintained that I could not imagine staying here more than 10 years. Every election I was asked how many years I planned to serve, but I didn't have an answer. Today, I do. This term will be my final."
The Congressman is known for his intelligence and friendliness, but he also displayed grit when he defeated Anne Northup, the Republican incumbent, to win the seat in Kentucky’s largest city. Yarmuth spoke to the media on Tuesday about his decision not to serve his current term and his "incomparable joy" at spending time with his grandson.
Yarmuth stated that he has a desire to be more in control of his time and the years he leaves behind.
Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker, called Yarmuth a "fierce champion" for his constituents as well as the people of the country.
McConnell, the Senate Republican Leader, often fought with Yarmuth about high-profile legislation, praised Yarmuth for his many years in public service.
McConnell stated, "We shared a deep affection for Louisville and a strong sense loyalty to our constituents, neighbors, and friends."
Yarmuth stated that his main focus will be to continue his work on domestic policies during his remaining time in Congress.
He said that he had just become a lame duck and would spend the next 15-months working hard to build upon his proudest moment, the passage of The American Rescue Plan. This refers to legislation that provided huge relief to U.S. citizens during a coronavirus pandemic.
Yarmuth stated that Congress can still do "much more for the American people."
He said, "And since this progress will unfortunately not take place on a bipartisan basis," he added.
Many of the Democratic U.S. Representatives who said they would retire before next year's elections hail from hotly contested swing areas that could flip Republican and eventually decide the House control. The GOP already announced it will be targeting many of these seats, including the one held by Conor Lamb (Pennsylvania Democratic Representative), who is leaving the House in order to run for a seat in the Senate in his state. Also, the Democratic Reps. Filemon Vela, Cheri Bustos, and Ron Kind (Wisconsin).
Republicans have seen 10 members of their own House leave office or make plans to not seek reelection next election, even though many are in seats that should be controlled easily by the GOP.