A ‘beacon’ goes out
U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, R-15th, announced in a news release last week he is not seeking re-election in 2018. He has served nearly 27 years in state and federal legislatures.
The seven-term congressman said he has done his best in his many senior responsibilities to make a meaningful, positive impact on the Republican party to instill stability, certainty and predictability in Washington.
“I’ve fought to fulfill the basic functions of government, like keeping the lights on and preventing default,” he said. “That has not been easy given the disruptive outside influences that profit from increased polarization and ideological rigidity that leads to dysfunction, disorder and chaos.”
Dent serves as a senior House Appropriations Committee member, co-chairs several caucuses and is past chair of the House Ethics Committee. Additionally, he is co-chair of the moderate Tuesday Group, a 50-strong Republican caucus dedicated to responsible governance, which has recently been at odds with the party’s more aggressively conservative members.
Dent said he and his family have been discussing his future since the 2013 government shutdown, and despite contributions to major legislative accomplishments in budget agreements that prioritize our federal commitments, pro-growth trade and tax policy, initiatives to advance medical innovation and research and major infrastructure investments, he has exceeded the public career he envisioned for himself by several years.
“I promise to continue my role, both inside and soon outside of government, of giving voice to the sensible center and working to solve problems for the American people through smart policy — the product of negotiation, cooperation and, inevitably, compromise,” Dent said.
To his constituents, Dent said, “I want to thank the people of Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Berks, Dauphin and Lebanon counties for giving me this tremendous opportunity to serve and their steadfast support and confidence in me all these years.”
The leaders of several institutions released statements of encouragement and thanks following Dent’s announcement.
National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers reacted to Dent’s announcement in a statement: “From reforming the broken VA to ensuring every child has access to a high-quality education, Congressman Dent has championed conservative values since taking office in 2005.
“While his leadership in Congress will be sorely missed,” Stivers continued, “I wish him the very best in the next chapter of his life.”
Pennsylvania State Education Association President Dolores McCracken said, “Congressman Dent has been a voice of reason in the nation’s capital. And that’s because he has always put what’s important to his constituents, Pennsylvanians and all Americans first – and partisan politics second.
“In a political world where a severe shortage of compromise has damaged our national political discourse, Congressman Dent has been a beacon. He has set an example for our students, and I commend him for everything that he has done during his 12 years in office.
“But he’s not done yet. Congressman Dent has 16 months left in his term, and I’m absolutely certain that he’ll use that time to fight against shortsighted policies that will take our country backward. From investing in public education to protecting dreamers who are seeking to better their lives through our schools, there is important work before Congress. I look forward to fighting those fights side by side with Charlie Dent,” McCracken continued.
“As an educator, and as someone who represents 181,000 Pennsylvania educators, I know how important it is to set a good example for our young people. Congressman Dent has certainly done that during his career, and he will keep doing it until his last moment in office.”