Veteran California Rep. George Miller plans to step down at the end of this year, leaving fellow Californian Nancy Pelosi without her main ally in the Republican-controlled House.
Miller told Democratic leader Pelosi of his decision last week and began telling his personal staff Monday of his plans, reports Politico
, before making his public announcement to Bay Area constituents.
The lawmaker says his retirement is coming after reaching the 40-year mark in Congress and does not reflect his party's chances of regaining the House in the November elections.
"I’ve immense confidence in her," Miller said of Pelosi. "I am energized by our freshman class, their diversity, their enthusiasm. This decision is about me having been here 40 years. I am comfortable that it is the right time."
Pelosi isn't the only one who will miss Miller. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, jokingly put out feelers for a new roommate on Monday after Miller announced his retirement plans.
Schumer issued this tweet:
Schumer, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Miller share a Capitol Hill rowhouse
, nicknamed the "Animal House," when lawmakers are in session.
Former Rep. Bill Delahunt, D-Mass., also lived there before he retired, and the house became the subject of the Amazon original series "Alpha House,"
starring actor John Goodman.
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Miller was only 29 when he was first elected and was in his sixth term when Pelosi came to the House in 1987. He served as a mentor to Pelosi as she made her climb to the House leadership.
The retiring lawmaker was a protégé of San Francisco Rep. Phillip Burton, reports Bloomberg, who lost a majority leader ballot by one vote to Texan Jim Wright in 1974, the same year Miller was elected.
Burton, who died in 1983, was succeeded by his wife for several years, and then by Pelosi.
The California delegation in the 1980s and '90s wielded a great deal of power, reports Bloomberg
. It included lawmakers such as Leon Panetta, who served in two Democratic presidential administrations; Norman Mineta, who later became Secretary of Transportation in the George W. Bush administration; and Henry Waxman, who will remain in Congress after Miller retires.
Wright was backed by the late Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha, who was also elected in 1974.
Through the years, Pelosi brought Miller and Murtha together, and they ended up backing her in the debate over the war in Iraq and in the run up to Pelosi's election as speaker in 2006.
Miller has often been compared to the late Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy as he came from an established political family in California and pushed bills that impacted education and labor rights.
Miller was also a key player in President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act in 2010 and the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002, backed by then-President George W. Bush, future Speaker John Boehner, and Kennedy.
The California Democrat also helped write the last minimum wage increase, with Kennedy, in 2007, and used his committee chairmanships for Natural Resources and Education and the Workforce to highlight laws concerning worker safety conditions and environmental issues.
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