John Yarmuth of Kentucky, House Budget Chair, Announces Retirement

John Yarmuth of Kentucky, House Budget Chair, Announces Retirement

WASHINGTON — Representative John Yarmuth of Kentucky, the lone Democrat in his state’s congressional delegation and the chairman of the House Budget Committee, announced on Tuesday that he would not seek re-election in 2022.

Mr. Yarmuth, who is playing a leading role in shepherding President Biden’s sprawling domestic agenda through Congress, is the first senior House Democrat to say he will not run in the midterms, when Republicans are widely believed to have a good chance of wresting the majority.

In a video circulated on social media, Mr. Yarmuth, who will be 75 at the end of the current Congress, said he was leaving because of “a desire to have more control of my time in the years I have left” and to spend more time with his family.

But he also faced the prospect that his Louisville-centered district could be redrawn this year, potentially leading to a more difficult re-election race. Even if he were to prevail, he would face the loss of his committee chairmanship if Democrats lost the House.

“I know that on my first day as a private citizen, I will regret this decision, and I will be miserable about having left the most gratifying role of my professional life,” Mr. Yarmuth said in the video. “But I also know that every day thereafter, I will find other ways to help my fellow citizens, and I will be more confident that the decision I announced today is the right one.”

He has held his seat since 2006 and has been the only Democrat in the congressional delegation since 2013.

Mr. Yarmuth is among the most high-ranking Democrats set to depart Congress at the end of 2022, joining a trickle of rank-and-file lawmakers who have decided to seek a different political office or vacate a district that is likely to change significantly once state officials redraw them using data from the 2020 census.

“In Chairman John Yarmuth, the Louisville community and indeed all Americans have had a fierce and extraordinarily effective champion for their health, financial security and well-being,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said in a statement. With his retirement, she added, “the Congress will lose a greatly respected member, and our caucus will lose a friend whose wise counsel, expertise, humor and warmth is cherished.”

In his role leading the Budget Committee, Mr. Yarmuth helped oversee passage of the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package in March, which he called the proudest moment of his congressional career. He has also drafted the $3.5 trillion budget blueprint that Democrats pushed through over the summer to pave the way for Mr. Biden’s signature domestic bill addressing climate change, expanding health care and public education programs and increasing taxes on businesses and wealthy individuals.


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