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NY’s Kathleen Rice Becomes 30th House Dem to Retire

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Retiring Rep. Kathleen Rice, a Democrat, opposed Nancy Pelosi's return as Speaker after 2018 elections. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)
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WASHINGTON — Rep. Kathleen Rice said Tuesday she will not seek reelection this fall, making the New Yorker the 30th Democrat to announce they’re leaving the House before November elections when Republicans are making a strong push to win the majority.

Rice, who revealed her plans on her 57th birthday, did not specify why she was leaving in a two-paragraph statement. She has represented the district in Long Island’s Nassau County, just outside of New York City, for four terms.

“I have always believed that holding political office is neither destiny nor a right,” she said. “As elected officials, we must give all we have and then know when it is time to allow others to serve.”

13 House Republicans not Seeking Re-election

So far just 13 Republicans have said they’re not seeking re-election to the House. The 30 Democratic House retirees are the most since the 1992 elections, when 41 of them stepped away.

GOP hopes for capturing the majority have been buoyed by President Joe Biden’s poor poll ratings and public concern over inflation and the pandemic. The imbalance of Democratic retirements compared with departing Republicans will only help the GOP.

Rice did not say what she will do next, referring only to “the next chapter of my own personal and professional story.”

Rice was a prosecutor before coming to Congress in 2015.

She Opposed Making Pelosi the Speaker

When the late Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., was accused of sexual harassment in 2017, Rice was one of the first of his colleagues to say he should resign, which he eventually did.

She gained attention after the 2018 elections, when Democrats won House control, but she was among 15 moderates from her party who opposed making Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaker.

The opponents of Pelosi, who has led House Democrats since 2003, said it was time for new, younger leaders and said GOP attacks on Pelosi for being too liberal made it harder for Democrats to win moderate districts. Pelosi was was elected speaker anyway.

Rice and two other moderate Democrats helped block wide-ranging restrictions on prescription drug prices, a top party priority, from being added last fall to a major social and environmental bill. Democrats settled for more modest curbs, but the entire measure has stalled in the Senate.

Rice and Biden both carried her district in the 2020 elections with 56% of the vote.

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