Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth announced on Tuesday that he will not be seeking reelection after serving thirteen years in Congress and becoming one of the most powerful liberals in Washington DC.
Yarmuth’s announcement is a blow for Democrats who hold a slim majority in the chamber and must now field a new candidate for his US House seat.
Yarmuth, the lone Democrat to represent Kentucky, also serves as the chair of the House Budget Committee, which is helping to steer President Joe Biden’s social safety net agenda through snags that have come up in negotiations.
“Truth be told, I never expected to be in Congress this long. I always said I couldn’t imagine being here longer than 10 years” Yarmuth said in a video posted on Twitter. “After every election, I was asked how long I intended to serve, and I never had an answer. Today, I do. This term will be my last.”
The seat is safely blue, but if the GOP-controlled Kentucky legislature decides to slice up the area, which includes Louisville, into other districts in redistricting it would become much harder for a Democrat to win a seat in the Bluegrass State.
Yarmuth is the 11th House Democrat this cycle to announce plans to leave Congress at the end of their term, compared to nine Republicans. Of those 11 Democrats, four are running for governor or a US Senate seat.
Although Yarmuth said he was in good health, he felt that the job would only become more challenging, as he will be 75 by the time his term ends, and he expressed a desire to spend more time with his grandson.
Yarmuth outlined the work that lies ahead before his retirement, pointing to his role as Budget chairman as integral to helping Democrats create consensus behind the scenes to deliver on their domestic agenda before the midterms.
Reflecting on his career, Yarmuth called the passage of the American Rescue Plan, which provided historic emergency assistance as the result of the coronavirus pandemic “my proudest moment.”
Yarmuth outlined how difficult it will be for him to walk away from the work he does in Congress, but ultimately concluded affirmed this was the right decision for him.
“I know that on my first day as a private citizen, I will regret this decision, and I will be miserable about having left the most gratifying all of my professional life” Yarmuth said. “But I also know that every day thereafter, I will find other ways to help my fellow citizens, and I will be more confident that the decision I announced today is the right one.”
This story and headline have been updated with additional developments Tuesday.
CNN’s Ethan Cohen contributed to this report.