HELP Chairman Harkin Won't Run Again in 2014

Announcing Jan. 26 he has decided not to seek a sixth term in the U.S. Senate, the Iowa senator said he'll focus on education and health care during his final two years in Congress.

U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, D-IA, chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, announced Jan. 26 in Cumming, Iowa, that he will not seek re-election when his current term ends in 2014. A statement posted on his Senate website said he'll focus during these final two years in Congress on education and on continued implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

"I have been thinking hard about the decision whether to run for a sixth term in the United States Senate for a number of months -- even more these last few weeks. I've reached a decision, and what I've decided really boils down to two things," he said, according to the statement. "First, I'm going to fulfill a promise that I made to my wife Ruth, and that I also made to myself. It's a promise that we're going to do certain things together -- and that we're going to live together in a way we've often talked about -- before it gets too late. That's a decision I believe many Iowans can relate to, either because of their own circumstances or perhaps those of their parents. I have the privilege to be able to make this decision on my own terms, which not everyone can, and I'm deeply grateful to the people of Iowa that I do have that opportunity. I've been extremely fortunate. I was born here in Cumming in modest circumstances. My father was a coal miner with just an eighth grade education. My mother arrived to this country as an immigrant with virtually no earthly possessions. This state and this country have allowed me to enjoy a life and career beyond anything I imagined as a boy or young man.

"Second, I'm 73 years old right now. At the end of this term, I'll be 75. When the current Congress is over, I will have served in the United States House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate for a total of 40 years. After 40 years, I just feel it's somebody else's turn. I can't put into words what an honor it is to serve Iowa. And I don't by any means plan to retire completely from public life at the end of this Congress. But I am going to make way for someone new in this Senate seat. I think that is right not just for me, but for Iowa, as well."

He listed these as priorities during the next two years:

  • Moving forward with bills to ensure all Americans can obtain a quality education beginning in early childhood, continuing through elementary and high school, and culminating with higher education.
  • Working to significantly increase the employment of individuals with disabilities to fulfill the promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Advancing his proposal of a new type of pension plan, the USA Retirement Fund, to provide Americans with a secure source of retirement income for life.
  • Ensuring the successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Harkin has a significant voice in all of these as the HELP chairman and also the chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that funds health, education, and labor.

The White House posted a statement from the president following Harkin's announcement: "By the time Senator Harkin finishes his fifth term, he will have represented the people of Iowa in the United States Congress for an incredible 40 years. He has served in the U.S. Senate longer than any Democrat in Iowa's history. During his tenure, he has fought passionately to improve quality of life for Americans with disabilities and their families, to reform our education system and ensure that every American has access to affordable health care. Senator Harkin will be missed, and Michelle and I join Iowans in thanking him for his long-standing service and wish him and his wife, Ruth, all the best in the future."

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