Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), a top ally to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and a veteran of four decades in Congress, announced Monday that he will not seek re-election.
"I'll miss my daily collaboration with Leader Pelosi and so many colleagues whom I respect and admire," Miller said in a statement.
Miller, 68, currently serves as the top Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee and ranks as the fifth most senior member of the House.
"For me, as Speaker and Democratic Leader, George's patriotism, wisdom and guidance have been especially valued, and he has been a close friend since my first days in the House," Pelosi said in a statement.
Miller served as chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor from 2007-2010 and also as co-chair of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. During his tenure in Congress, he has focused on legislation related to health and education policy — including the passage of the education reform bill known as "No Child Left Behind" in 2002 — and on labor issues.
“Because of his tireless efforts, our air and water are cleaner, our workers’ rights are better protected, more young people can afford to go to college, and more working families can make ends meet,” said President Obama in a statement.
The announcement caught fellow lawmakers by surprise.
Democrat Brad Sherman of Sherman Oaks told KPCC, "The man is 68," or as those on the Hill call him: "Mid-career."
First elected in 1974, Miller was one of the "Watergate babies" swept into Congress after the resignation of Richard Nixon.
Fellow Democrat Sam Farr of Santa Cruz told KPCC that Miller was "one of the most productive members of Congress” and a workman. "He just loves laboring in getting legislation made into law."
Democrat Grace Napolitano of El Monte said Miller was her mentor on water issues and the environmental and water communities are going to "lose a great champion."
President Obama also credited Miller with being “an indispensable partner in developing and passing the Affordable Care Act.”
Members of the GOP also praised Miller.
Riverside Republican Ken Calvert called him "a man of his word." Calvert said he disagreed with Miller on "just about on everything, but once he gives his word, by golly, it's good."
To date, Miller is the fourth House Democrat and the 13th House member to announce his retirement at the end of the 113th Congress.
As for Miller's future -- Congressman Farr told KPCC he suspects his friend has fallen in love with a boat he's refurbishing, and is looking forward to long afternoons out on the San Francisco Bay.