California Democratic Rep. George Miller, a liberal lion of the House and close confidant of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, has decided to retire at the end of this term, he announced in a statement on his website today.
“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, who won 20 elections to the House, wrote in the statement. “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, 68, was elected in 1974 at age 29.
Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, who along with fellow Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois has shared a messy group house on Capitol Hill for years with Miller, tweeted that he is looking for a new roommate to fill Miller’s room.
Seeking roommate. 20 terms in the House & unmatched legislative record preferred. Lover of cold cereal a must. http://t.co/oHy8z7wrKR
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 13, 2014
The trio’s sloppy living quarters inspired “Alpha House,” a television series produced by Amazon Studios, about four U.S. senators sharing a home in Washington. Former Rep. Bill Delahunt, D-Mass., used to live in the residence, which they call “The Omega House.”
Miller, who was the home’s de facto landlord, was the first of the veteran lawmakers to move into the home.
While Miller’s seat is considered a safe bet for his party to fill – President Obama won 67 percent of the vote in the district – the departure of such a prominent force in the House Democratic Caucus perhaps signals wavering doubts that the party can successfully recapture the House majority this fall.
After she joined Miller in Congress, fellow Californian Rep. Pelosi counted Miller as a close collaborator for 28 years, particularly on the Affordable Care Act. Pelosi today called him “the model of the serious, substantive and successful legislator” whose “patriotism, wisdom and guidance have been especially valued.”
“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,” Pelosi wrote in a statement. “I congratulate him on 40 years of inspired and inspirational leadership.”
Miller served as chairman of three House committees during his career: Education & the Workforce, Natural Resources and he was co-chairman of the Democratic Steering and Policy committee.
As the top Democrat on the Education committee, Miller won bipartisan praise from House Speaker John Boehner, who he partnered with to craft the No Child Left Behind Act.
“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,” Boehner, R-Ohio, stated. “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.”
Miller is the fourth House Democrat to announce intentions to retire at the end of the session. House Democrats must pick up a net gain of 17 seats in order to seize the majority.