Long-serving Congressman George Miller announces his retirement

George Miller Long serving Congressman George Miller announces his retirement

Congressman George Miller.

RICHMOND, CA, Jan. 13th, 2014 – Congressman George Miller, a senior Democrat from California who represents part of Antioch, and has chaired three committees during the past 40 years and is a principal author of major laws affecting America’s education system, labor and health policy, and the protection of natural resources, announced today that he will not seek a 21st term in the House this fall.

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, said Miller (D-CA-Contra Costa County).  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’s expansive congressional career has been marked by a tenacious pursuit of a quality education for children from all backgrounds and economic opportunity for the working poor and middle class. He built a successful record in Congress by using sophisticated legislative strategies, pointed investigations of powerful special interests, and impassioned advocacy.  He has been steadfast whether Democrats or Republicans were in the majority.

Elected in 1974 at age 29 as the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal were coming to a close, he collaborated on writing major laws over the years with other congressional leaders as divergent as the late Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy and Republican Speaker John Boehner. A longtime supporter and advisor to Democratic Leader and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, he currently serves as the top Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee and is the fifth most senior member of the House of Representatives.

Miller’s full statement and additional background is below:

Miller’s expansive congressional career has been marked by a tenacious pursuit of a quality education for children from all backgrounds and economic opportunity for the working poor and middle class. He built a successful record in Congress by using sophisticated legislative strategies, pointed investigations of powerful special interests, and impassioned advocacy.  He has been steadfast whether Democrats or Republicans were in the majority.

Elected in 1974 at age 29 as the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal were coming to a close, he collaborated on writing major laws over the years with other congressional leaders as divergent as the late Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy and Republican Speaker John Boehner.  A longtime supporter and advisor to Democratic Leader and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, he currently serves as the top Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee and is the fifth most senior member of the House of Representatives.

Miller, 68, has shown equal enthusiasm and energy in all aspects of his job, from dissecting the complexities of health care policy or school nutrition programs at congressional hearings, to joining a picket line outside Walmart in his district, to reading to and playing paddy cake with children at local Head Start centers. He has traveled home to his district in the East Bay of San Francisco from Washington nearly every weekend of his long career.

An aggressive and unapologetic investigator in defense of taxpayers and the health and safety of children and workers, Miller has successfully taken on asbestos executives, for-profit colleges, subsidized agribusiness, mining corporations, oil companies, boot camps for troubled youth, and Administration officials of both parties. He is well known for sticking with issues over the long haul and engaging directly with the people most affected by the policies under consideration, such as mineworker families, fishermen, teachers and children, garment workers, seniors, and experts from across the country in the fields of education, labor and the environment.  The Nation magazine recently named Miller the 2013 “Most Valuable Member of the House” for his work on the minimum wage, food stamps, garment worker safety, and fair trade policy.

He served as chair of the Select Committee on Children, Youth and Families (1983-1992), the Committee on Natural Resources (1992-1994), the Committee on Education and Labor (2007-2010), and was the long-time co-chair of Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, a leadership position he resigned from in January of 2013.  He has used each of these positions to advance his policy priorities and highlight inequities in the federal budget.

Miller issued the following statement:

“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 them in Congress these past 40 years. 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.

“I have not won every fight that I have waged.  And there remain, of course, many critical challenges waiting to be addressed.  But I have no regrets about what I have accomplished and what I have tried to accomplish in the public interest.

“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, and I will not seek re-election this fall.  What a wonderful experience this has been.

“I came to Congress to help children of all backgrounds in America get a healthy start in life, have opportunity to get a good education, and eventually have the chance to work hard at a job with dignity. The first law that I authored expanded the WIC program that provides nutritional foods to pregnant women and newborns, and the most recent bills I’ve introduced would expand early childhood education and raise the minimum wage to lift families out of poverty.

“As a youth, I watched my father use his elected position to really help people, and I told myself, ‘That’s what I want to do when I grow up.’  Since I came to Congress 40 years ago, I’ve woken up every day asking myself the same question – ‘what is my opportunity to do some good today?’ And I think that I have lived up to the high standard I set for myself when I first sought this job, with the same degree of commitment and passion now as when I first started.

“I believe that we are in the midst of one of the most exciting and critical times for educational achievement, teacher empowerment and school reform. This includes the smart application and use of technology that offers a remarkable opportunity to address and reduce persistent problems in American education, like improving educational equity, strengthening teacher performance, and revolutionizing the teaching and learning environment in schools.

“This type of education reform and innovative thinking can change the lives of millions of American children, strengthen our communities, and revitalize our economy. Unfortunately, that’s not on this Congress’ agenda. But these reforms must happen, and I want to be part of them.

“Wealthy and powerful special interests have always had plenty of friends in Washington.  I came to Congress to stand up for the rest of us. And I have learned a great deal in the process.  Two lessons stand out among many: First, that enacting progressive public policy is good for our economy and our country. It helps to grow and strengthen the middle class, and that makes America a better place for everyone.  And, second, that making good public policy is very hard work.  The job is never done.  It requires a great sense of urgency to move forward on the big issues and enormous stamina to see them all the way through. The wins don’t come quickly, even when the need is dire, and the losses are hard to accept. And third, that elections matter.  Election results establish the basic parameters for what kind of legislation is possible in Congress.  After each election, it is clear whether we will have a greater or a lessor chance of forging bi-partisan alliances to move major legislation to help the country.

“I will leave Congress with a full heart and a crowded plate, because the challenges of our times demand our constant involvement.  We’ve made progress on many fronts but have a lot of work still to do.  I’ll miss my daily collaboration with Leader Pelosi and so many colleagues whom I respect and admire, and I will always be grateful for the remarkable staff that I have been blessed with over the years.  So much of what I have been able to accomplish is the result of a joint venture with my staff in California and Washington and so many talented and committed advocates outside of Congress.

“I look forward to continuing to work on the issues that have been at the core of my career and my passions, in particular education reform, economic fairness, and improving labor standards in the United States and abroad, such as in the worldwide garment industry.

“For the remainder of this year, I plan to push Congress ‘to do some good,’ including to:

  • Extend long-term unemployment insurance benefits to the 1.3 million Americans who unfairly had their coverage cut off on December 28th.

  • Raise the minimum wage to at least $10.10 per hour by 2016, index it to inflation, and include a raise for tipped workers.

  • Further implement the Affordable Care Act to extend health insurance to all Americans.

  • Find common ground to fix the No Child Left Behind Act.

  • Make college more affordable through the Higher Education Act.

  • Push for passage of the bi-partisan Miller-Harkin-Hanna bill to implement President Obama’s initiative to expand early childhood education services nationally.

  • Enact comprehensive immigration reform.

  • Encourage American companies to embrace international labor standards in their substandard factories in Bangladesh and other countries.

“That’s a tall agenda, I know, but it’s an agenda the American people strongly support and one that will help strengthen our country, reduce inequality, and create opportunities for all of our children for years to come.”

 

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2 Comments to “Long-serving Congressman George Miller announces his retirement”

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