Report: Democrat Jim McDermott to Retire

Jim McDermott
P Photo/Charles Dharapak

WASHINGTON (AP) — Longtime Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington state will announce his retirement, a Democratic official told The Associated Press on Monday.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of a news conference McDermott scheduled later Monday in Seattle.

McDermott, 79, is in his 14th term representing Seattle. He’s been an outspoken liberal in Congress, a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee who’s focused on inequality issues while promoting liberal causes and attacking Republicans.

One of the few physicians in Congress, McDermott, a psychiatrist by training, also has focused on health care issues and implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

McDermott has drawn attention, not always positive, for sparring with Republicans. He was involved in a long-running legal battle with former Rep. John Boehner, who would go on to become speaker, after leaking an illegally recorded phone call with Boehner and other GOP leaders. McDermott wound up paying Boehner over $1 million in damages under a court order, but insisted he was defending the First Amendment.

In 2002, Republicans labeled McDermott “Baghdad Jim” for comments he made during a trip to Baghdad, saying that Bush “would mislead the American people” but that Saddam could be trusted.

He also once drew attention for leaving out the words “under God” when leading the Pledge of Allegiance in the House, but later said that was an inadvertent omission.

McDermott becomes the 31st House member to announce plans to retire or seek other office. He has been re-elected by wide margins and his seat is certain to stay in Democratic hands.