US Rep. McKeon Leaving Congress as Exodus Continues

WASHINGTON—Joining an exodus from Congress by both Democrats and Republicans, veteran Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon tearfully announced Thursday that he’s retiring after 21 years, stepping down as House Armed Services Committee chairman.

“I’m leaving this job in a year, but I will not leave the fight,” McKeon told reporters at a Capitol Hill news conference, with his wife, Patricia, and current and former aides in attendance. McKeon pledged to continue working for men and women in the military.

The California Republican, who has led the panel for three years, is term-limited as chairman and McKeon said that was a factor in his decision to step down. He endorsed Rep. Mac Thornberry of Texas, the panel’s vice chairman, to succeed him if the GOP maintains control of the House in November’s elections.

The 75-year-old McKeon said he didn’t want to be a second-guessing presence next year.

McKeon spoke proudly of his committee’s bipartisan work and its ability to pass a sweeping defense authorization bill last year, the 52nd straight time. With a granddaughter in the Army, he spoke of the panel’s work to combat sexual assault in the ranks. A close confidante of House Speaker John Boehner, McKeon said the House leader had eased budget restrictions on congressional travel and panel members would be traveling to Afghanistan and visiting U.S. allies.

McKeon said he still gets a thrill when he sees the lights of the U.S. Capitol, but there were other feelings that signaled it was time to leave.

“For me, it’s time to walk away,” he said.

The soft-spoken McKeon campaigned for Republican candidates in 2010 and, thanks to the GOP wave that year, took over the chairmanship of the committee that oversees military policy, war operations and authorizes budgets for the Pentagon. During his time in charge, McKeon has fought congressional efforts to slash spending as defense hawks increasingly were outnumbered, even in the Republican Party.

The end of two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and increasing deficits served as the impetus for budget reductions.

McKeon has represented a California district north of Los Angeles that counts a number of defense contractors and the famed Skunk Works, the Lockheed Martin operation dedicated to creating new technology.

McKeon’s decision to retire after 11 terms was expected and Republican candidates had already taken steps to seek the seat.

In a statement, Boehner, R-Ohio, praised McKeon as “a tireless advocate for our military and Department of Defense civilian personnel, as well as their families. No one has worked harder to provide them the resources they need to successfully complete the missions their nation has asked them to perform.”

Rep. Adam Smith of Washington state, the committee’s top Democrat, hailed McKeon’s unwavering commitment to the troops and his efforts to work with Democrats in a bitterly divided Congress.

“Buck set a tone on this committee that the rest of Congress should seek to emulate,” Smith said. “As political tension continued to rise in Congress, Buck stayed committed to bipartisanship.”

Both the House and Senate Armed Services committees will have new leadership next year. McKeon’s Armed Services counterpart in the Senate, Democrat Carl Levin of Michigan, also plans to retire after this year.

Category: US Politics

  • Richard M

    Of course they’re retiring. In the same sense that a bus driver who has crashed the bus into a ravine, killing half of the passengers, walks away from the crash scene and announces that he is retired.

    The Beltway Cabal of gangsters deserve to be imprisoned, not rewarded with lifetime golden parachutes.

  • Gin1234

    20 years and 75 years old. Seems that it is time to give someone else a try, although if he truly was bipartisan, then we don’t need another partisan to replace him, except if it is a democrat. :)

    • AskandTell

      McKeon would privatize anything that wasn’t nailed to the floor. He fought for the military industrial complex like they were his children.

  • Rockyj3

    It appears he’s an old school Republican, I wonder how he really feels about these Ayn Rand loving Tea Baggers in congress? Perhaps that’s the main reason why he’s FINALLY retiring. .

    • rg9rts

      Reagan would be too left for those clowns

    • AskandTell

      I believe it was retirement or face charges for accepting bribes from Countryside which came out in a report from Darrell Issa. McKeon is believed to have a huge gambling problem and is millions of dollars in debt.

      • Rockyj3

        OMG what a douche bag! What’s really sad & scary about ALL this is that it seems we’ve lost. Between Obama being really a corporate Democrat that doesn’t really care about our environment because he’s ready to sell us out re: TPP, & it appears he will approve Keystone & he’s pro police state & surveillance & data collection of all American citizens W/O warrant!

  • rg9rts

    Calbag is in action as we speak

  • AskandTell

    Buck McKeon has the distinction of being a Republican that Darrell Issa named in one of his investigations. He was accused of taking bribes from Countrywide. The only reason he was saved was through his friendship with Boehner. None of the other Republicans accused ran for reelection.

    As a member of CREW’s most corrupt Congressmen, I’m sure he’s getting out now before he follows the same fate of Duke Cunningham. As Lee Fang in The Nation wrote, “almost all of McKeon’s significant legislative accomplishments involve the transfer of huge amounts of taxpayer money to quasi-private entities that are then liberated from government oversight.”

  • Canukistani

    You can always count on these guys to scuttle away just before the law closes in.