Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), Chairman of the House budget committee, will retire and will not run for office next year, he announced today.
He has represented Kentucky’s 3rd Democratic District, centered on Louisville, since 2007. He became the only Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation after the then-representative was defeated. Ben Chandler (D) in 2012.
Yarmuth, 73, said the time had come for him to leave to spend more time with his family and for other activities. “To be honest, I didn’t expect to be in Congress that long. I always said that I couldn’t imagine being here for more than 10 years, ”he said in a video.
“Although I am in excellent health – I touch wood – I know that the heavy physical demands of the jobs will only get more difficult. I will be 75 by the end of my current term, and the desire to have more control over my time in the years I have left has become a high priority, ”he continued. “Frankly, I found a new and incomparable joy in spending time with my grandson. And I would love to spend more of my golden years with my family.
Despite hailing from a state rich in coal mines, Yarmuth has long been one of Congress’ most vocal opponents of mountain-top mining. He sponsored for years legislation that would have banned the practice and supported the Obama administration’s steps to severely restrict it.
“For far too long, reckless mining practices of clearing mountain peaks have wreaked havoc on the air, water and soil in all coal communities,” he said in a March statement. during the reintroduction of the “Appalachian Communities Health Emergencies Act,” HR 2073, which it first sponsored in 2013. The legislation would put a moratorium on mountain-top mining (Daily E&E, March 22).
“Our government should ensure the health and safety of its citizens before considering a new single permit to allow this destruction to continue,” he said. “We owe it to the land of coal, to these families and to the future of our nation.”
Yarmuth also argued for diversifying Kentucky’s economy away from coal, as the power source continued to decline in importance. He was a co-sponsor of the law “Revitalizing the Economy of Coal Mining Communities by Leveraging Local Activities and Investing More (RECLAIM) Act”, which would allocate part of the money from mine restoration to economic development and to similar activities in communities dependent on coal mining jobs (Daily E&E, April 10, 2019).
He voted in 2009 to support the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which would have instituted a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions, but was never considered by the Senate. As a sole member of the Energy and Trade Committee, he fought for incentives to support the manufacture of energy-efficient appliances, policies that would have helped the former General Electric Co. factory to Louisville.
In today’s video, Yarmuth bragged about his work in guiding the American Rescue Plan Act to passage. But he said his job was not finished, as Democrats sought to pass the “Build Back Better Act,” the reconciliation package currently being negotiated in Congress.
“We can still do a lot more for the American people,” he said.
Yarmuth, who went from Republican to Democrat in 1985, was the founder of an alternative weekly, the Eccentric Observer from Louisville, and a magazine, Louisville today.
While 60% of Yarmuth District voters voted for President Biden in last year’s election, state lawmakers – who are predominantly Republicans in both houses of the legislature – could seek to divide the district in the next redistribution process, in order to reduce the power of the Democrats. the.
Within minutes of Yarmuth’s announcement, at least one Democratic candidate, Morgan McGarvey, announced his candidacy for the open seat in 2022. He is the Minority Leader and Head of the Kentucky State Senate. Attica Scott, a representative for the progressive state of Louisville, announced an offer in July.