U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) announced Monday he is retiring from Congress at the end of his 14th term ending a nearly three-decade run as a congressman Monday.
King said in a Facebook post that his primary reason for deciding to not seek re-election is the constant weekly commute to Washington D.C. where he said he spends four days a week for work. He said he will complete his term “all the way to the final bell of the final round” on Dec. 31, 2020.
“This was not an easy decision. But there is a season for everything and Rosemary and I decided that, especially since we are both in good health, it is time to have the flexibility to spend more time with our children and grandchildren,” King said.
In the coming weeks, King said he will be voting against the impeachment of President Donald Trump and will support his bid for re-election. He did the same with President Bill Clinton in 1998.
He came to this decision after discussing it with his wife Rosemary; his son Sean; and his daughter Erin, he said.
Before entering office as a representative in 1993, he served as deputy Nassau County Attorney. From 1974-1976 he served as an assistant chief deputy to the county executive.
Following the county executive’s office, King served as a member of the Hempstead Town Board from 1977 to 1981 followed by a successful run for county Comptroller in 1981, where he remained in office until he joined the house. From 2005-2006 and then from 2011-2012, he was a chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.
U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) wished King farewell in a statement. King often collaborated with Suozzi on resolutions like a recent one protecting the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland in the wake of Brexit negotiations.
“Pete King is a friend. Much like Ed Koch was, Pete can always be relied on to say exactly what he thinks,” Suozzi said.
Suozzi said he and King always tried to “work past our differences to find common ground” on issues like repealing the SALT cap, funding the cleanup of the Navy Grumman plume, helping 9/11 first responders, finding a compromise on immigration reform, and combating teen vaping.
“Whether you agree with him or not, you can’t argue that he compiled a record of accomplishment. I wish him many good days in his well-deserved retirement from serving his country,” Suozzi said.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) received jeers from his side of the aisle for his complimentary farewell to King in a tweet Monday.
“Peter King stood head and shoulders above everyone else, He’s been principled and never let others push him away from his principles. He fiercely loved America, Long Island, and his Irish heritage and left a lasting mark on all three,” Schumer said. “I will miss him in Congress & value his friendship.”
King, seen by some as a moderate congressman willing to work across the aisle for the residents in his district, did not receive complimentary farewells from all with some calling out his record over his treatment of Muslims and his strong vocal support of the Irish Republican Army.
A Slate article bidding farewell to King said that when he was “Long Island Irish Guy” Peter King he said of civilian casualties in IRA attacks, “If civilians are killed in an attack on a military installation, it is certainly regrettable, but I will not morally blame the IRA for it.”
His support of the IRA was brought into question when he rejoined the House’s Security Committee in 2011 with his priority of eyeing radicalization within American Muslim communities. A Trump supporter, King recommended after the 2016 presidential election that President-elect Trump establishes a federal Muslim surveillance program like the one attempted by the NYPD following 9/11.
According to the Slate article, when confronted with his history of supporting the IRA before 2011 radicalization hearings in the security committee, he noted that the IRA’s attacks were not on American soil.
“I understand why people who are misinformed might see a parallel,” King said.” The fact is the IRA never attacked the United States. And my loyalty is to the United States.”
Muslim congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said in a tweet Monday that King was an “Islamophobe who held McCarthyite hearings targeting American Muslims” and said that King said there were too many mosques in America. She said that King blamed Eric Garner for his own death at the hands of NYPD officers.
“Good riddance,” her tweet closed.
Representatives from the office of U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) did not immediately return requests for comment.
“Governmentally I will miss fighting for the people in my district and America,” King said. “Most importantly I want to thank the residents of the 2nd Congressional District for giving me the opportunity to represent them in Washington D.C.,” King said.
King said he will continue to live in Seaford and remain active politically.