Top Pelosi ally Miller to retire from House

Greg Nash

Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), a top ally of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), announced Monday he will retire in 2014. 

"I'm proud of what I've been able to accomplish on behalf of children and families, working people and the environment and I look forward to working in new venues on the issues that have inspired me," Miller said in a statement.

Miller, a powerful member of the House Democratic Caucus, is perhaps Pelosi's closest ally in Congress and has helped craft on a number of significant pieces of legislation in his four decades in Congress.

The ranking Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, Miller was a major player in crafting ObamaCare, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the 2009 federal stimulus bill, and a number of pieces of labor and environmental protection legislation.

The fiery liberal has also worked across the aisle at times, helping to craft No Child Left Behind alongside then-Education Committee Chairman John Boehner (R-Ohio). He's since pushed to overhaul the bill.

His retirement, first reported by Politico, isn't a shock. Miller dropped out of Democratic leadership after the 2012 elections and hasn't been as active within the caucus in recent months.

Pelosi praised her longtime confidant in a statement following his announcement.

"For 40 years in the House, George Miller has been the model of the serious, substantive and successful legislator. In the majority, as chairman of three committees, and in the minority as well, he has written some of the most creative legislation of our time — on health care, education, child policy and labor rights, and also on the environment, energy and national parks," she said. "George always incorporated the most current research of our best thinkers into innovative bills, and he passed most of them with bipartisan support."

Miller's retirement will leave Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) as the only Democrat elected in the Watergate wave of 1974 left in Congress.

His San Francisco Bay area district is safely Democratic and sure to draw substantial interest ahead of the March filing deadline and subsequent June top-two primary election. 

Miller's son, California statehouse lobbyist George Miller, could be interested in his father's seat, according to California Democrats.

California state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D) announced his intention to run shortly after Miller's announcement.

Other names mentioned by California Democrats include California State Assemblywomen Joan Buchanan (D) and Susan Bonilla (D). DeSaulnier and Buchanan both finished behind Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) in a 2009 House special election.

One other name mentioned by California Democrats is Commerce Department official Ro Khanna (D), who's been challenging Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) in a primary in a district just south of Miller's. But Khanna's campaign ruled out that possibility.

"Representative George Miller has been a tireless advocate for working families and he will be missed in Congress. As for Ro, he will continue to work hard for the opportunity to represent the people of California's 17th district," Khanna spokesman Tyler Law told The Hill.

Miller's decision is the latest in a spate of retirements from veteran lawmakers from both parties. Those include Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa), a close ally of Boehner's; and Reps. Jim Matheson (D-Utah), Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.), Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.).

Two other powerful, longtime lawmakers — Reps. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) — haven't said whether they're running again, and many expect them to retire.

Reps. Jon Runyan (R-N.J.) and Tim Griffin (R-Ark.), two less senior congressmen, are also heading for the exits.

This story was last updated at 5:45 p.m.