This Nov. 23, 2010 file photo shows Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va. speaking in Arlington, Va. Veteran Democratic Moran is retiring from Congress. The 68-year Moran, a former mayor of Alexandria, Va., who was first elected in 1990, has been a staunch supporter of federal civilian employees who have a heavy presence in his district.
Congressman Jim Moran (D-Va.) says he will not seek re-election this fall. Moran has served in the House of Representatives since 1991. He's been a leader in budget appropriations, and today made it clear that the recent focus on austerity has made it difficult to advance his priorities in the budgeting process.
Congressman Moran joined WAMU's Elliott Francis to talk about his decision to call it a day.
"I want to go out with my head first rather than my feet first."
- Rep. Jim Moran
Why did you decide this is the right time to leave office?
"I've always wanted to leave on a high note, so from a personal standpoint, I don't have any opposition in the Democratic primary and the Republicans in the general election. That's the first time in 35 years that that's been the case. Everything is working well, but from a professional standpoint, the appropriations bill we passed today is as good as it's going to get. The numbers are going to stay the same for the next 2 to 3 years."
"Frankly, I've probably got another 12 to 15 productive years ahead of me and the question is: 'Is this the most conducive environment to being as productive and purposeful as I'd like to be?' I'm afraid the conclusion is the same as some of colleagues that others like George Miller have reached: it just isn't. We're going to be fighting a rearguard action trying to maintain the programs that we have in place. There's very little opportunity for any new funding, let alone bold new initiatives, and so I think the things I care about — the environment, education, a lot of foreign policy issues — I can probably have more of an impact outside of the institution than within it."
To what extent did the environment of fierce partisanship influence your decision?
"It's not as fun as it used to be in the 1990s, even in the Gingrich so-called revolution. We fought and we knew it was not going to be the norm. We have a new norm now, it's a kind of an anti-government attitude on the part of one side and on the part of us Democrats, the best we can do is try and maintain where we are. So basically, we're treading water and I don't think that we're going to be able to advance the cause very much. I believe in government and the partisanship has reached a stalemate. But in terms of wanting to commit yourself for the next several years. I don't see that it's going to be worth it. I want to go out with my head first rather than my feet first."
What do you plan to do next? Any chance we'll see you on K Street lobbying?
"I don't know what I'm going to do. If there was a way to help the environment, to address climate change or things like that, that might be attractive. I'd like to see some of these peace and democracy initiatives advance. And I'd like to do something with early childhood education and education in general. There's such a vast income disparity in this country and I really think we have to address it. But again, I don't see the Congress necessarily meeting those challenges, so maybe I'll do something in that area outside the Congress. We'll see, it's inappropriate to be marketing yourself while you're still serving your constituents, but I really don't know what I'm going to be doing.
Do you have someone in mind to run for your seat?
"There are a whole bunch of people, as you can imagine. It's a very well-informed, engaged constituency. I'd be willing to bet there will be a dozen people and most of them will be close friends of mine. So I won't be able to take a position in the primary, but I'll certainly share my values and vision, such as it is, with them and I trust that we're going to get somebody who is certainly capable of reflecting those values and vision. We're going to be well-served. It's not my seat, I don't have proprietary control. It's the people of Northern Virginia and they'll be well-served I'm sure with whoever takes my place."Virginia Congressman Jim Moran Announces Retirement From Congress