The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Two more Democrats, Reps. Langevin and McNerney, announce their retirements

Pedestrians walk near the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 16.
Pedestrians walk near the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 16. (Samuel Corum/Bloomberg)

Two House Democrats said Tuesday that they will not seek reelection, bringing the number of Democratic retirements to 28.

Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) announced his retirement in an op-ed in the Providence Journal. Langevin, 57, is the first quadriplegic elected to Congress and is serving his 11th term.

“I have not come to this decision lightly, but it is time for me to chart a new course, which will allow me to stay closer to home and spend more time with my family and friends,” Langevin said in the op-ed. “And while I don’t know what’s next for me just yet, whatever I do will always be in service of Rhode Island.”

Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.) said in a tweet that he, too, is retiring.

The increasing number of House Democratic retirements is adding to concerns the party may not be able to keep its majority in the House. (Video: Mahlia Posey/The Washington Post)

“Today I am announcing that I will not seek reelection in California’s newly created 9th Congressional District,” the 70-year-old lawmaker said. “I am honored that the citizens of California’s 9th Congressional District chose me as their representative in the past five elections, and that those in California’s previous 11th Congressional District gave me the privilege of representing them for three terms.”

The eight-term lawmaker added that he looks “forward to new opportunities to continue to serve.”

Shortly after McNerney’s announcement, Rep. Josh Harder (D-Calif.), who represents the state’s 10th District, said he will run for reelection in the newly redrawn 9th District.

“Rep. Jerry McNerney has made our entire state proud throughout his career,” Harder said in a tweet. “I’m grateful to call him a mentor and a friend.”

In a statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called McNerney “a devoted champion for his Northern California community and our nation.”

“Driven by a sense of patriotic duty and inspired by his son’s military service, Congressman McNerney has brought to the House a strong commitment to our veterans,” she said.

Democrats currently hold a slim majority in the House, and the mounting retirements could put their control of the chamber in peril. Republicans pointed to the latest announcements Tuesday as a sign that even Democrats in “safe” districts believe their party’s majority is at risk.

“Nobody wants to run as a House Democrat because their majority is doomed,” Mike Berg, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a statement.

With Langevin’s retirement, the House is losing a leader who has spearheaded efforts to promote the rights of people with disabilities. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, hailed Langevin’s historic tenure in Congress.

“His belief that everyone deserves a fair opportunity to make the most of their talents has been an example not just to me and my colleagues, but our country,” Maloney said in a statement. “His work in passing the Affordable Care Act, embracing medical research, and ensuring job training programs are funded underscore what we who work with Jim every day know — when he fights, he delivers.”

Pelosi hailed Langevin’s “extraordinary courage and resilience in the face of adversity” and praised him as an “unrelenting voice on issues of national security.”

In his Providence Journal op-ed, Langevin noted that after an accident left him paralyzed nearly 40 years ago, “my dreams of becoming a police officer were crushed, and I was forced to dream new dreams, and relearn how to perform almost every daily task.”

“Yet during my hour of need, Rhode Islanders rallied behind me, and I was inspired to give back to the community that gave me so much by pursuing a career in public service,” Langevin said.

He added that he will “always cherish the moment that I became the first Congressman in a wheelchair to preside over the House of Representatives as Speaker Pro Tempore, as we marked the 20th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act.”