The House of Representatives will lose one if its truly great, progressive voices at the end of this year as Rep. George Miller (D-CA) announced on Monday that he will retire from Congress and not seek reelection. With this term, Miller will have served 40 years in Congress. Besides being known as a hero to the left and held in the nearly the same regard that Ted Kennedy was when he served in the Senate, Miller has also been a very close friend and confidante to Nancy Pelosi since she first arrived in the House. When informed of Miller’s decision, Pelosi had this to say:
“Capitol Hill and California are filled with Democrats and Republicans alike who have enjoyed working with George Miller and who deeply respect him because his dedication to the issues and his excitement for the legislative process are infectious and undiluted by the years he has served or the challenges he had faced. For me, as Speaker and Democratic Leader, George’s patriotism, wisdom and guidance have been especially valued, and he has been a close friend since my first days in the House.”
In his time in Congress, Miller has championed various progressive causes. He sponsored and help get passed the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007, which raised the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour. He undoubtedly will be instrumental in his final months in trying to get the minimum wage raised once more. He was an important voice in getting the ACA passed and also helped get Pell Grants expanded by introducing the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009.
Another thing that Miller was known for was constantly traveling back to his home district in California so that he could better serve his constituents. Even when Congress was in session, Miller would make trips back home nearly every weekend so that he could meet with residents of his district and discuss what mattered to them. By all accounts, he’s logged over 5 million miles flying during his tenure in Congress. Meanwhile, during the week when he is in Washington, he rooms with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) in a townhouse that Miller has owned since the late 70s.
The Democrats figure to easily hold Miller’s seat despite him retiring. He hasn’t had to deal with a close election since his first one in 1974. Typically, he has carried his district by huge margins, sometimes as much as 70 points. California State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier has indicated that he plans on running now that Miller is retiring and will presumably be the heavy favorite right away, especially assuming that Miller gives him an endorsement. At 68, Miller still has a long live ahead of him. He has given 40 years of his life to proudly serving his constituents in the House. While the man will be sorely missed, he deserves to spend his twilight years relaxing and enjoying life. Thank you for everything, George Miller!