The chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and a leading voice in Congress demanding greater accountability at the Veterans Affairs Department on Thursday announced he won't seek reelection.
Rep. Jeff Miller, a Republican from Florida who won a seat in Congress 15 years ago, didn't say why he plans to leave Washington, D.C., when his current term is up at the end of the year.
"Fifteen years ago when [my wife] Vicki and I were praying about running for Congress, we could have never imagined what may lie ahead," he said in a statement. "As we made our decision, we knew there would come a day when it would be time to pass the torch. That day has come."
VA Secretary Bob McDonald, whose department Miller had repeatedly criticized, said he called the lawmaker to congratulate and thank him for his years of distinguished service.
"We talked about [how] much we can accomplish through the end of this year to leave in place necessary changes that will improve the delivery of care and benefits from VA to Veterans and their families," McDonald said.
"Over the past two years, working together, I feel we have made a positive difference in the lives of millions of veterans," the secretary added. "I’m proud to be his partner in this effort and to call him a friend. I wish Jeff, his wife Vicki and their entire family all the best."
Miller won election to the congressional seat during a special 2001 election after then-Rep. Joe Scarborough, now the host of "Morning Joe" show on the cable channel MSNBC, resigned his seat. Miller has been most visible as chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. He said he specifically sought a position on that panel as well as the House Armed Services Committee after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., because "I felt I could best represent my district and make a difference for the entire nation."