House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Chairman Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.) said Nov. 6 that he will not run for office again in 2020, ending a 35-year career in public office and opening up the chairmanship to new candidates should Democrats hold the majority after next year’s elections.
“For my entire career I have worked to build support for our domestic steel industry and organized labor, secure investments in transformational projects and improve our quality of place to benefit the only place I have ever called home,” Visclosky, 70, said in a Wednesday statement. He entered the House in 1985 and took over control of the defense appropriations subcommittee gavel in January following the House switch from a Republican majority to Democratic. He also sits on the House Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee.
The Indiana lawmaker did not provide a reason for his decision to leave Congress. Shortly after his announcement, Thomas McDermott, the Democratic mayor of Hammond, Indiana, announced his campaign to run for Visclosky’s House seat.
Visclosky had already received nearly $198,000 in campaign funds toward his 2020 re-election, according to data compiled by the bipartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Over a dozen defense contractors were among his top 20 donors, with four contributing more than $10,000: General Dynamics [GD], BAE Systems, Boeing [BA] and L3 Technologies – which in June officially closed on its merger with Harris Corp. to form L3Harris Technologies [LHX].
Over the course of his congressional career, Visclosky received nearly $1.7 million in campaign contributions from the defense industry. Lockheed Martin [LMT], General Dynamics and General Atomics are among his top 10 career-wide contributors, donating nearly $159,000, nearly $132,000 and over $126,000, respectively.
His Republican counterpart, HAC-D Ranking Member Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), called Visclosky’s dedication to U.S. military personnel “second to none” and that “Pete’s expertise in national security issues will be sorely missed.”
“While we come from different sides of the aisle, we never had a problem finding common ground – a lost art in Congress lately,” Calvert said in a Wednesday statement. “I would personally like to thank Pete for nearly three decades of friendship and for his tireless service to our country.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) praised Visclosky in a Wednesday statement, saying, “As chair of the powerful Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Congressman Visclosky has worked tirelessly to ensure our military has the resources it needs to keep America safe, honoring the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform and the aspirations of our children.”
The chairman’s announcement, along with HAC Chair Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.)’s own retirement announcement less than one month ago, is sure to shake up House defense appropriations.
Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) is second in line in terms of seniority to lead the defense subcommittee, but has not yet announced whether she will run for the seat.
“I’m grateful to have worked alongside Chairman Visclosky for many years as a fellow appropriator, and I look forward to continuing to work with him for the remainder of the 116th Congress,” she said in a Wednesday statement. “I wish him and his family the very best in the years to come.”
McCollum’s communications director Amanda Yanchury said in a Wednesday email to Defense Daily that McCollum “is currently on international travel in Malawi with the Forest Service International program and is unable to provide further comment at this time.”
Two other subcommittee chairs have already publicly announced their intent to go after Lowey’s gavel: Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), who leads the labor, health and human services and education subcommittee, announced she would seek the chairmanship Oct. 11, and Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), leader of the energy and water subcommittee, first told Spectrum News 1 she would run Oct. 18.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.), who chairs the military construction and veterans affairs subcommittee, is also mulling a run for the HAC chairmanship, the Miami Herald reported Oct. 30.