Longtime Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner to Retire From Congress

September 5, 2019 Updated: September 5, 2019

Wisconsin Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner has announced he will not be seeking reelection when his term comes to an end in Jan. 2021, after a four-decade-long stint in the House of Representatives.

The 76-year-old, who represents southeastern Wisconsin, made the announcement on Wednesday, Sept. 4, saying he will complete the rest of his 21st term in Congress.

By the time he retires, Sensenbrenner will become the longest-serving congressman for Wisconsin with 42 years of service. He previously served in the Wisconsin Legislature for a decade.

Sensenbrenner said in a statement on the Mark Belling Show on WISN-AM, that by Jan. 2021 “it will be that time.”

“When I began my public service in 1968, I said I would know when it was time to step back.”

“I think I am leaving this district, our Republican Party, and most important, our country, in a better place than when I began my service,” he said.

Speaking to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in a separate interview, Sensenbrenner said he believes the “time has come to basically turn over the page in the 5th District.”

The veteran GOP lawmaker told the outlet that he wants to leave on his own terms and that he is not retiring because he is worried about a reelection challenge. His decision to retire is also unrelated to his serving in the minority, he added.

“There is nobody running against me. Nobody can say they’ve pushed me out. I am doing this on my terms,” Sensenbrenner said.

U.S.-Rep.-Jim-Sensenbrenner
U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) (C) and ranking member Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) (L) on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 3, 2019. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The 76-year-old told the news outlet that he would rather choose to retire “on a high note” than wait for redistricting in 2022.

“This is just me feeling the time would be coming in the next few years, and I think this is the best time for me personally, and for both the Republican Party and for me politically,” he explained.

Sensenbrenner is known for his role in President Bill Clinton’s impeachment and passing the anti-terrorism Patriot Act after 9/11 during his six-year stint as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

He was described by former House Speaker Paul Ryan, a fellow Wisconsin Republican who retired after 2018, as “a statesman, a person of remarkable character, and his presence and wisdom will be sorely missed in Congress.”

“He has provided an amazing example for generations of Wisconsin Republican legislators to follow and showed us how to be effective advocates and representatives,” Ryan said in a statement.

The news of Sensenbrenner’s retirement follows another Republican U.S. Representative who announced on Sept. 4 he wouldn’t be running for reelection.

Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas) said he will be leaving after his current term in Jan. 21, and described his time in Congress as “an honor and one of the greatest privileges of my life.”

U.S.-Rep.-Bill-Flores
U.S. Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX) at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Oct. 4, 2011. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Flores said that the decision to retire was primarily about his family.

“Following the end of my current term in January 2021, I look forward to spending much more time with my family and our grandchildren. I also intend to resume business activities in the private sector and to stay politically active on a federal, state, and local level. Lastly, with a little luck, I will have time to do a little more flying and skiing than I have been able to do during the last 10 years, and to introduce our grandchildren to those activities!” Flores said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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