Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon Thursday morning officially announced that he would not be running for Congress in the 25th District of California in 2014. Read his prepared statement below:
22 years ago, almost to the day, I stood in our company training room. I faced about 100 family, friends, and one reporter, for my very first press conference.
The purpose was to announce my candidacy to represent the brand new 25th Congressional district of California. I had served 9 years on the William S. Hart School Board, served as the first Mayor of Santa Clarita –a newly incorporated city back then—and served four years on the City Council. But –other than volunteering- I’d never been involved in a Federal Election.
I was a true neophyte.
We worked hard. And on election night, we beat our local Assemblyman and 3 other candidates by about 700 votes. I found myself on the way to Washington, D.C. to be sworn in.
From the time I arrived here, I’ve heard people say you’ll know when it’s time to leave. I’ve heard that if you’re walking to the Capital at night, and the lights gleaming off the dome don’t give you a little shiver of excitement, it’s probably time to pack up and go home.
Well, it’s still special, every time I walk up the Hill. But other things have told me that it’s time to walk away. So I’m announcing today that I will not be a candidate for the House of Representatives in 2014. I will finish my current term, representing my friends and constituents back home. And I’ll remain throughout the year as Chairman of the Armed Services Committee.
Thank you to citizens of Santa Clarita for the great honor of representing them. They elected me 3 times to the School Board, 1 time to the City Council, 1 time to be Mayor, and 11 times to Congress.
I’ve worked hard to do right by my fellow citizens. We’ve had some great victories over 20 years. We rolled up our sleeves and fought a tough fight to stop the pristine Elsmere Canyon from becoming a landfill. That pretty Canyon almost became the largest dump in the world. Today it’s as beautiful as ever.
We rebuilt and even grew stronger after the 1994 earthquake, which devastated southern California. And my constituents were clear that they wanted more done to thank our veterans. We set up a special shop in my home office for that, and I’m proud to say that we’ve seen amazing progress helping veterans and wounded warriors find housing and employment back home.
You know when you’re HASC Chairman, you don’t just represent the people of your district. You also represent the troops. Serving our military men and women was the great highlight of my 20 years in Congress.
Their fight is my fight. Every day I do my best to faithfully do my duty to them and to our country. We are blessed with the finest military that history has ever known. Even after I’m gone, there’s still much I have to do on their behalf. The work is just beginning.
I was also blessed to lead the best Committee on the Hill. The Committee Staff are the best in the business. And I owe them all my thanks for their hard work. I was fortunate in my Ranking Member, Adam Smith, who worked tirelessly with me to maintain the bipartisan spirit that has seen this committee pass 52 straight defense bills. Believe me, that is no small task.
And the members of this Committee were the best I could have asked for as Chairman. They always put the troops and country first. I know they will carry on my priorities going into the next Congress. Those are: defense reform. We simply must be smarter about how we spend money at the Pentagon.
Second is travel. We’re back to regular order. That means travel restrictions are lifted. As Chairman, it’s time I start leading delegations again. Especially to regions that count, and regions that are strategically important. We’re going to let our allies know that Congress hasn’t forgotten about them.
One of those regions is Afghanistan. Our troops and our allies have spilled blood to ensure that country never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists. They deserve our public support. They deserve to hear that what they are doing matters. They’ll hear it from me and they’ll hear it from our members. And we will continue our rigorous oversight of Afghan security transition’s progress. We simply must get this one right. Finally is sexual assault. When I leave here, I want to know that the military has fixed this for good. It will be an ongoing effort. This Committee –members and staff– will keep their foot down on the problem, until it’s not a problem anymore.
Lincoln said “I do the very best I know how – the very best I can. And I mean to keep doing so until the end.”
As a military grandfather –with my military grandmother here with us today—I don’t plan to forget about these issues, or the troops. Patricia and I will always be among the thousands who pray for the safe return of our family members in uniform.
I’m walking away from a long, special chapter in my life. But I can’t wait to start the next one.