One of the Last Post-Watergate Reformers Leaving Congress

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 02: House Committee on Education and the Workforce Raning Member Rep. George Miller (D-CA) talks with children from the Head Start program at the Edward C. Mazique Parent Child Center during a rally to call for an end to the partial federal government shut down and fund the comprehensive education, health and nutrition service for low-income children and their families outside the U.S. Capitol October 2, 2013 in Washington, DC. The federal government is in the second day of a partial shutdown after House Republicans and Senate Democrats refused to agree on a budget. 
National Journal
Mike Magner
Add to Briefcase
Mike Magner
Jan. 13, 2014, 5:35 p.m.

After a dilap­id­ated gar­ment fact­ory col­lapsed in Bangladesh last spring, killing more than 1,100 work­ers, only one mem­ber of Con­gress made the trip halfway around the world to find out what happened.

Demo­crat­ic Rep. George Miller, who an­nounced Monday that he will re­tire after 40 years in the House, traveled to Bangladesh just weeks after the dis­aster and re­turned to his Cali­for­nia dis­trict with strong words for U.S. com­pan­ies that do busi­ness with over­seas sweat shops.

“I met with vic­tims in the hos­pit­als who lost limbs, lost their legs, their arms, their hands,” Miller told the San Fran­cisco Chron­icle. “It was just a very, very sad event, to re­cog­nize how badly these in­di­vidu­als had been dam­aged be­cause of the care­less­ness of the in­dustry and the gov­ern­ment.”

Former Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Mich., who worked closely with Miller for years on the House Edu­ca­tion and the Work­force Com­mit­tee, was not sur­prised that Miller made the long trip. “That would fit his val­ues,” Kildee said Monday.

On labor is­sues, health care, en­vir­on­ment­al pro­tec­tion, and es­pe­cially edu­ca­tion, Miller has long been a well-in­formed and out­spoken ad­voc­ate for the dis­ad­vant­aged and down­trod­den. “The guy is bril­liant when it comes to the fed­er­al role in edu­ca­tion,” Kildee said.

Miller, 68, ac­know­ledged his top pri­or­it­ies in a state­ment Monday an­noun­cing his plans to re­tire at the end of this Con­gress.

“I’m proud of what I have been able to ac­com­plish on be­half of chil­dren, work­ing people, and the en­vir­on­ment, in my dis­trict and for our coun­try, es­pe­cially pas­sage of na­tion­al health care re­form,” he said. “I have not won every fight that I have waged. And there re­main, of course, many crit­ic­al chal­lenges wait­ing to be ad­dressed. But I have no re­grets about what I have ac­com­plished and what I have tried to ac­com­plish in the pub­lic in­terest.

“Now, I look for­ward to one last year in Con­gress fight­ing the good fight and then work­ing in new ven­ues on the is­sues that have in­spired me, and I will not seek reelec­tion this fall. What a won­der­ful ex­per­i­ence this has been.”

Now the fifth-rank­ing mem­ber of the House, Miller’s de­par­ture will mean just two oth­er mem­bers who entered Con­gress in the two elec­tions after the Wa­ter­gate scan­dal — Reps. Henry Wax­man, D-Cal­if., and Nick Ra­hall, D-W.Va. — will re­main, as­sum­ing they are reelec­ted this year.

The son of a state sen­at­or, Miller star­ted in polit­ics as an aide to Cali­for­nia Sen­ate lead­er George Mo­scone, who was later the may­or of San Fran­cisco. Miller won his first term in the House in 1974 with 56 per­cent of the vote, and his win­ning per­cent­age nev­er fell be­low that level in 19 sub­sequent elec­tions.

For many years Miller has been ranked by Na­tion­al Journ­al as one of the most lib­er­al mem­bers of Con­gress, and he is also one of the closest ad­visers to former Speak­er and cur­rent House Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi, whose dis­trict is not far from Miller’s in the San Fran­cisco area. The late colum­nist Robert Novak once wrote that Miller was Pelosi’s “con­sigliere, al­ways at her side.”

That was cer­tainly true dur­ing the di­vis­ive de­bate on health care re­form, when Miller worked all hours to en­sure that Pres­id­ent Obama’s top pri­or­ity be­came real­ity. “He would not let it die,” Kildee said.

Just last month the pro­gress­ive magazine The Na­tion named Miller “the most valu­able mem­ber of the House” for his work on the min­im­um wage, food stamps, gar­ment-work­er safety, and fair-trade policy. “The seni­or Demo­crat on the power­ful Edu­ca­tion and the Work­force Com­mit­tee, Miller has been in the House since 1975,” the magazine said. “But the Cali­for­nia con­gress­man has lost none of his fire.”

In­deed, Miller’s re­tire­ment state­ment gave no in­dic­a­tion that he would be let­ting up. “I be­lieve that we are in the midst of one of the most ex­cit­ing and crit­ic­al times for edu­ca­tion­al achieve­ment, teach­er em­power­ment, and school re­form,” he said. “This in­cludes the smart ap­plic­a­tion and use of tech­no­logy that of­fers a re­mark­able op­por­tun­ity to ad­dress and re­duce per­sist­ent prob­lems in Amer­ic­an edu­ca­tion, like im­prov­ing edu­ca­tion­al equity, strength­en­ing teach­er per­form­ance, and re­vo­lu­tion­iz­ing the teach­ing and learn­ing en­vir­on­ment in schools.

“This type of edu­ca­tion re­form and in­nov­at­ive think­ing can change the lives of mil­lions of Amer­ic­an chil­dren, strengthen our com­munit­ies, and re­vital­ize our eco­nomy,” Miller said. “Un­for­tu­nately, that’s not on this Con­gress’s agenda. But these re­forms must hap­pen, and I want to be part of them.”

What We're Following See More »
WITH LIVE BLOGGING
Trump Deposition Video Is Online
4 hours ago
STAFF PICKS

The video of Donald Trump's deposition in his case against restaurateur Jeffrey Zakarian is now live. Slate's Jim Newell and Josh Voorhees are live-blogging it while they watch.

Source:
SOUND LEVEL AFFECTED
Debate Commission Admits Issues with Trump’s Mic
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

The Commission on Presidential Debates put out a statement today that gives credence to Donald Trump's claims that he had a bad microphone on Monday night. "Regarding the first debate, there were issues regarding Donald Trump's audio that affected the sound level in the debate hall," read the statement in its entirety.

Source:
TRUMP VS. CHEFS
Trump Deposition Video to Be Released
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

"A video of Donald Trump testifying under oath about his provocative rhetoric about Mexicans and other Latinos is set to go public" as soon as today. "Trump gave the testimony in June at a law office in Washington in connection with one of two lawsuits he filed last year after prominent chefs reacted to the controversy over his remarks by pulling out of plans to open restaurants at his new D.C. hotel. D.C. Superior Court Judge Brian Holeman said in an order issued Thursday evening that fears the testimony might show up in campaign commercials were no basis to keep the public from seeing the video."

Source:
A CANDIDATE TO BE ‘PROUD’ OF
Chicago Tribune Endorses Gary Johnson
9 hours ago
THE LATEST

No matter that his recall of foreign leaders leaves something to be desired, Gary Johnson is the choice of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board. The editors argue that Donald Trump couldn't do the job of president, while hitting Hillary Clinton for "her intent to greatly increase federal spending and taxation, and serious questions about honesty and trust." Which leaves them with Johnson. "Every American who casts a vote for him is standing for principles," they write, "and can be proud of that vote. Yes, proud of a candidate in 2016."

FUNERAL FOR ISRAELI LEADER
Obama Compares Peres to ‘Giants of the 20th Century’
9 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Speaking at the funeral of former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, President Obama "compared Peres to 'other giants of the 20th century' such as Nelson Mandela and Queen Elizabeth who 'find no need to posture or traffic in what's popular in the moment.'" Among the 6,000 mourners at the service was Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Obama called Abbas's presence a sign of the "unfinished business of peace" in the region.

Source:
×