- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Taking shots at the Senate, the press, the country’s mood and former President George W. Bush, Rep. David R. Obey said he will retire from the House at the end of this term, ending a four-decade congressional career that oversaw record spending and historic expansion of government aid.

Mr. Obey, Wisconsin Democrat and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said he is certain he would have won re-election, but said after years of battles he feels “used up” and is ready to let someone else take up the liberal banner he’s championed.

“The wear and tear, believe you me, is beginning to take its toll,” the congressman told a room packed with reporters, staffers and several of his Democratic colleagues. “Frankly, I don’t know what I will do next. All I do know is that there has to be more to life than explaining the ridiculous, accountability-destroying rules of the United States Senate to confused, angry and frustrated constituents.”

The combative lawmaker said he would have retired nearly a decade ago but he was so infuriated by the arrogance Mr. Bush showed at a meeting at the White House in 2001 that he vowed to outlast the president.

He said now that health care has passed, he’s accomplished all of the big issues he’s likely to get done during his time in Congress.

He also blasted the Republican who was likely to be his opponent in November, Sean Duffy, a former MTV reality-show star. Mr. Obey said Mr. Duffy is a worse version of Mr. Bush.

“I won 25 elections. Does anybody really think I don’t know how to win another one?” Mr. Obey said.

In a statement, Mr. Duffy said they “have major differences on the issues” but said Mr. Obey has “served honorably” and has earned respect for his decades in Congress.

Rep. Jerry Lewis of California, the ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee, said while he has often fought Mr. Obey, the congressman “has proven to be a leader of historic proportions.”

Earlier this year Rep. John P. Murtha, the No. 2 Democrat on the committee, passed away at 76, and Mr. Obey said he’s aware he’s nearing that age.

Mr. Obey said he expects Rep. Norm Dicks, Washington Democrat, to succeed him as the top Democrat on the panel, though that decision is up to the whole Democratic caucus.