Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth announces retirement

Congressman John Yarmuth, the only Democrat in Kentucky’s Congressional delegation since 2013, announced Tuesday he’d retire after this term. His exit comes as Democrats are fighting strong headwinds to retain control of the House in 2022, and as Republican state legislators prepare to redraw the state’s Congressional lines this year.

In a video, Yarmuth explained that his age and and the desire to spend more time with his family were the main factors in his decision to retire.

“The 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,” he said. “I know the significant physical demands of the job will only become more challenging… The desire to have more control of my time in the years that I have left will be a priority.”

He will be 75 years old by the end of his term. 

Representative John Yarmuth (D-KY), Chairman of the House Budget Committee, speaks to reporters after a House Democratic Caucus meeting in the Capitol Visitor Center on June 15, 2021 in Washington, DC.  Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images

Yarmuth is the House Budget Committee chair and was integral in passing the American Rescue Plan earlier this year, which he called his “proudest moment.”

“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 puts me in a pivotal position to build an even better future for our citizens,” he said. 

“His tireless work to pass the historic American Rescue Plan – which put shots in arms, money in pockets, workers back to jobs and kids safety back to school – has helped save lives and provide desperately needed relief to families, workers and small businesses, and leaves an enduring impact in the lives of millions,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a statement.

Yarmuth is the tenth House Democrat to either announce retirement or intent to seek another office this year, compared to eight House Republicans.

His announcement comes as state Republicans weigh whether to dilute the Democratic base in Louisville and split the city into three districts. While Democratic Governor Andy Beshear can reject maps, Republicans hold a veto-proof majority in Kentucky’s House and Senate.

Since he was elected in 2006, Yarmuth has won Kentucky’s 3rd Congressional District by double digits. Two notable candidates have already announced campaigns for his now open seat: Kentucky’s state Senate Democratic Leader Morgan McGarvey and state Representative Attica Scott, who was already challenging Yarmuth from the left.