House Budget Committee Chair John Yarmuth, D-Ky., announced Tuesday that he will not seek reelection next year, opening a seat in Louisville, a Democratic stronghold.
Yarmuth, 73, was elected to the House in 2007. Since 2013, he has been the only Democrat in Kentucky’s congressional delegation.
“It’s been an incredible journey since my first campaign in 2006 until now. I will continue to fight for Louisville in Washington for another 15 months, and then, I will retire from Congress,” Yarmuth tweeted Tuesday with an accompanying video.
Yarmuth said he will step aside to spend more time with his family, Politico reported.
He added he “is in excellent health” but knows “the significant physical demands of the job will only become more challenging.”
Yarmuth becomes the fifth House Democrat to announce his retirement ahead of what could be a difficult midterm election for the party. Republicans aim to take control of the chamber, and a sitting president’s opposition party usually picks up seats in an off-year election.
“Smart Democrats know their days in the majority are numbered, so they are retiring or seeking other offices,” National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Mike Berg said after Yarmuth’s announcement.
Yarmuth, as budget chair, has helped to shepherd key parts of President Joe Biden’s massive agenda through the House. He’s playing a key role in the multitrillion-dollar spending plan being discussed.
“The truth be told, I never expected to be in Congress this long,” Yarmuth said in the video posted on his Twitter account. “Candidly, I have found new and incomparable joy in spending time with my young grandson.”
Kentucky state Republicans plan to keep Yarmuth’s Louisville district largely intact rather than splitting it up to create another GOP district.
Soon after Yarmuth announced his decision, state Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D, declared that he would run for the seat, as has progressive state Rep. Attica Scott, D.
Other House Democrats who plan to retire include Reps. Filemon Vela, D-Texas; Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz.; Cheri Bustos, D-Ill.; and Ron Kind, D-Wis. Five other members plan to seek other elective office.
“It’s just the right time for me. I want to have more control of whatever time I have left,” Yarmuth told Politico.
The Hill reported that Yarmuth said he plans to spend his remaining time in office building upon efforts made by the America Rescue Plan, sweeping coronavirus relief legislation he helped craft earlier this year.
“We can still do much more for the American people. And since that progress will unfortunately not be done on a bipartisan basis, my chairmanship of the House Budget Committee puts me in a pivotal position to help build an even better future for our citizens,” he said, The Hill reported.