House Budget Chair John Yarmuth to retire from Congress

Rep. John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthDemocrats fret as longshot candidates pull money, attention The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - New front in mandate wars; debt bill heads to Biden House votes to raise debt ceiling MORE (D-Ky.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, announced on Tuesday that he will not be seeking reelection.

“The truth be told, I never expected to be in Congress this long. I always said I couldn't imagine being here longer that 10 years. After every election, I was asked how long I intended to serve, and I never had an answer,” Yarmuth, who was first elected to the House in 2006, said in a video announcement on Tuesday afternoon.

“Today, I do, this term will be my last,” Yarmuth continued. 

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While the 73-year-old lawmaker said in the clip that he “is in excellent health,” he added that he knows “the significant physical demands of the job will only become more challenging.”

The congressman, who will be 75 when his congressional term ends, said that the “desire to have more control of his time and the years I have left has become a high priority.”

Yarmuth said he plans to spend his remaining time in office building upon efforts made by the American Rescue Plan, a sweeping coronavirus recovery legislation passed earlier this year that he helped craft.

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He called its passage his “proudest moment” in office.

“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 chairman's retirement, first reported by NBC News, comes as Democrats have been working quickly to pass a massive social spending package that would advance key parts of President BidenJoe BidenJill Biden campaigns for McAuliffe in Virginia Fill the Eastern District of Virginia  Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted MORE’s economic agenda.

Yarmuth, the only Democrat in the Kentucky congressional delegation, said he will be working hard to ensure his community “is represented in Congress by the best possible Democratic man or woman” after he retires.

Democratic committee chairmen do not have term limits, so if his party held onto its majority in the lower chamber next year, Yarmuth would have been able to remain in his post. 

His coming departure from Congress was welcome news for the National Republican Congressional Committee, which released a statement less than an hour after Yarmuth’s announcement on Tuesday afternoon. 

“Smart Democrats know their days in the majority are numbered, so they are retiring or seeking other offices,” spokesman Mike Berg said.

Just minutes after Yarmuth made his announcement, Morgan McGarvey, Kentucky's state Senate Democratic leader, announced on Twitter that he is running for the seat. 

--Scott Wong contributed to this report, which was updated at 2:55 p.m.