George Miller is retiring from the House

After 40 years in Congress, Rep. George Miller is calling it quits.

Miller, D-Martinez, announced Monday morning that he won’t seek re-election to a 21st term this year.

George Miller“This is a great institution and I cannot thank my family and my constituents enough for having given me the honor and privilege of representing my district in Congress these past 40 years,” Miller said in a news release. “I have tried to repay them for their confidence by working hard every day to make our country a better place. I’m proud of what I have been able to accomplish on behalf of children, working people and the environment, in my district and for our country, especially passage of national health care reform. Now, I look forward to one last year in Congress fighting the good fight and then working in new venues on the issues that have inspired me. What a wonderful experience this has been.”

Miller, now the ranking Democrat on and former chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, has made that committee’s issues the focus of his congressional career.

First elected in 1974 at age 29, he has collaborated over the years with fellow lawmakers as diverse as the late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and current House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Now the fifth most senior House member, he has been a close adviser to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco.

News of his retirement is sure to touch off a political feeding frenzy among possible successors.

See Lisa Vorderbrueggen’s full story here. Check back for updates…

UPDATE @ 9:14 A.M.: From Pelosi:

Nancy Pelosi“For 40 years in the House, George Miller has been the model of the serious, substantive and successful legislator. In the majority, as chairman of three committees, and in the minority as well, he has written some of the most creative legislation of our time – on health care, education, child policy and labor rights, and also on the environment, energy and national parks. George always incorporated the most current research of our best thinkers into innovative bills, and he passed most of them with bipartisan support.

“I especially value his long service to the Democratic Leadership as co-chairman of our Steering and Policy Committee, working with our Caucus to address jobs, economic innovation, child health and nutrition and a host of other national priorities. His foresight in the area of budget policy led him to originate the Pay-As-You-Go deficit reduction strategy that helped us balance the budget in an intelligent way.

“Now the Dean of California’s congressional delegation, George has always drawn a special inspiration from the creativity and innovativeness that is so crucial to our home state. He has worked closely with state leaders in so many fields to modernize education, reform natural resource policies, and serve the needs of children and those with special needs. And of course, he has always worked to reform water policy and enhance his beloved Delta.

“Capitol Hill and California are filled with Democrats and Republicans alike who have enjoyed working with George Miller and who deeply respect him because his dedication to the issues and his excitement for the legislative process are infectious and undiluted by the years he has served or the challenges he had faced. For me, as Speaker and Democratic Leader, George’s patriotism, wisdom and guidance have been especially valued, and he has been a close friend since my first days in the House.

“My sadness at his departure from Congress in 2015 is mitigated only by my certainty that he will utilize his exemplary knowledge and skills in a new venue where he will surely again be a successful leader for our state and our nation. I congratulate him on 40 years of inspired and inspirational leadership, I look forward to working closely with him during his last year of service in the House, and I wish him and Cynthia, and his beautiful family, many years of enjoyment and happiness together.”

UPDATE @ 10:51 A.M.: From California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton:

“George’s retirement is not only a great loss for the people of his congressional district and the people of California but for the nation as well.

“As a legislator, he was a giant in the areas of workers’ rights for both men and women, on the environment, in solving water problems, in advocating for infants, children and families and in particular the WIC program.

“His work and service have left a great mark in the Bay Area and beyond but after forty years of service, I’m sure it’s time to come home. Welcome home, George.”

From Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord:

“George Miller has proudly represented his constituents in Contra Costa County for over 40 years in Congress. In his exemplary service as a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, he wrote or co-wrote many of the significant laws that brought health care to the uninsured, improved wages for working families, helped students pay down their student loans, and protected California’s natural resources from development. His dedication to his constituents and leadership that he provided for Contra Costa County and California will be truly missed.”

UPDATE @ 11:03 A.M.: From Boehner:

“No one would confuse me and George Miller for ideological soul mates, but during our years serving together on the Education & the Workforce Committee, we got things done on behalf of the American people thanks in no small part to his dedication and willingness to work for the greater good. I have great respect for George, and on behalf of the whole House, thank him for his decades of service and congratulate him on a remarkable career.”

More after the jump…

UPDATE @ 2:55 P.M.: From Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton:

“Congressman George Miller has been a champion for working families, students, and Bay Area residents for 40 years, and he will be sorely missed in the House of Representatives. He is a true public servant. The policies he spearheaded, from raising the minimum wage to protecting student borrowers to defending our natural resources, have improved the lives of countless Americans across the country.

“As a fellow Bay Area representative, I cannot thank George enough for his mentorship, support, and guidance this year. We are lucky to have had a dedicated leader like George Miller, and I wish him and his family the very best during this next chapter of their lives.”

From Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa:

“This is the biggest public service loss to California in my lifetime. George leaving Congress will have a greater impact on our state than any past retirement from public office. During his 40 years of service, he has championed issues important to our communities, state and nation including improvements to education, job creation, conservation, deficit reduction and labor rights, while playing a leading role in reforming our health care system and protecting the Bay Delta. And, he was always willing to work with anyone, on any side of the aisle, to better his district and our county.

“Congress and California will miss George and his leadership – and I will miss one of my closest colleagues and friends. It has been a high honor to serve with George for so many years, and I look forward to continuing to work closely with him for the remainder of his current term and beyond to better our communities and state.”

UPDATE @ 3:16 P.M.: Read President Barack Obama’s statement here, and view a gallery of some of Miller’s finer (that is, more fiery) moments on the House floor here.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Thank you, George.

  • Thank you, George.

  • AmusedToDeath14

    He’s been a great rep and is sensible enough to know when it’s time to retire. Good for him! I wish more of our Bay Area reps would follow in his footsteps and help usher in a new generation of leaders. (Hint Hint Mike Honda)….Now is the time!

  • RRSenileColumnist

    Canny GM wanted one more crack at the chairmanship. He’s tired of waiting. This signifies another 2 yrs of Repub control of the House.

  • JohnW

    Translation: “GOP will be calling the shots in the House at least until after the 2020 redistricting (and maybe the Senate too), so take this job and shove it.” Perfect timing for termed out Assembly member Joan Buchannan, among others. It would be interesting if Candace Anderson would run on the Republican side to liven things up a bit.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    This just in to our newsroom : Ro Kha is quoted as saying”I’ve always held Pittsburg and Antioch close to my heart. I am exploring the idea of moving there so I can fully participate in the exciting changes taking place. I also love Richmond. It’s a great place to live.”

  • Willis James

    Six years younger than Honda, over 12 years younger than Stark was….

    Refreshing to see a congressman retire with wisdom and dignity still intact.
    Where their ability and energy hadn’t fallen way off.

    Stark was clearly just a shell. Honda is a man who time and energy have passed by.

    East Bay log jam is finally breaking up.
    I think Swalwell’s victory played a role in both adjacent districts.

  • JohnW

    Good one!

  • JohnW

    Sad to say, I think it signifies more than 2 years. Changing control will require either a “wave election” precipitated by who knows what or 2020 redistricting. Republicans have really been in charge since 1994. Dems took over 2006-2010, but that was based on some blue dog Dems winning in normally Republican districts, triggered by reaction to Iraq and the economic meltdown. Those seats were very difficult to hold in the 2010 tea-party wave election, and hard to win back once the Republicans re-captured them. During that wave election, the Republicans won complete control of a huge number of statehouses, just in time for the 2010 redistricting.

  • Elwood

    There’s good news and bad news. George Miller is tired of tilting against windmills and is leaving Congress. The bad news is that a recently Republican saloon keeper from Concord has announced that he’s running for the open seat. The saloon keeper never met a public employee union that he didn’t like.

  • JohnW

    From saloon to Congressional salon. Makes perfect sense! I wonder if Captain Sully would consider running. I’m not even sure about his political affiliation. Nah! What a waste that would be.