Shelby ending career as Alabama’s longest-serving senator

MONTGOMERY, Alabama (AP) — Senator Richard Shelby, Alabama’s longest-serving senator and a shrewd force in state and national politics for more than 40 years, has opted not to seek a seventh term. , will resign next month.

Shelby told the Associated Press that “it worked” but expressed concern about the growing political polarization in the Senate, saying he would not allow a day like the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot. said he did not expect to see them in the country. .

“We are grateful and lucky that the people of Alabama sent us six terms in the Senate and four terms in the House,” said Shelby, 88. ‘ … We tried to leave Alabama and the country for the better.

The fourth-oldest member of the Senate, Shelby is known for his cautious demeanor and ability to use his influence and knowledge to bring billions of dollars back to his home state of Alabama on projects. .

He said he would leave a more polarized Senate, like the rest of the country.

“It’s less colleague than it was when I first went to the Senate 36 years ago,” Shelby said.

Resigning senators say it’s not always possible, but it’s always worth working across political aisles because “especially when it comes to appropriations, you can’t do it yourself.” He said he was thinking

Shelby had the rare achievement of chairing four major Senate committees. intelligence; banking, housing, and urban affairs; and rules and controls.

Now Vice-Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Shelby is spending his final days in the Senate as usual — leaning in to negotiate appropriations bills.

Shelby is probably best known for directing multi-billion dollar projects at home Back in Alabama, one anti-ear tag group dubbed him the “Prince of Pigs” because the spring appropriations bill alone includes more than half a billion projects.

Funding the university, Interstate 22 connecting Memphis and Birmingham, dredging and other improvements to the Port of Mobile, and developing the FBI No. 2 campus in Huntsville are just some of the projects linked to Shelby’s legacy. .

“What I’m proud of. It didn’t give people any money, but it created the infrastructure for the growth and attraction of businesses and jobs,” said Shelby, adding that these projects are statewide. called it transformative for

An attorney and former member of the Alabama Legislature, Shelby was the first conservative Democrat elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1978. In the House, he served in the Southern Conservative caucus known as the Boll Weevil. Shelby was elected to the Senate in 1986, but turned Republican in 1994.

Shelby said the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol were a day he “never imagined” happening in the country. Shelby said he was sitting in the Senate for presidential election certification when he saw Vice President Mike Pence suddenly resign. He said seconds later, law enforcement officers flooded the chamber, one assembled a weapon by the desk and yelled at the senators to get down.

“It wasn’t a good day for America. We thought we weren’t going to see it,” Shelby said.

He refused to identify responsibility for the violence. learn from.”

he announced He retired last year. Shelby said he doesn’t want to be the one who goes beyond a competent position and stays in it.

“I’ve seen people in the Senate. I’ve seen them in business. I’ve seen them in academia. I wanted to walk when I knew I could work.”

Shelby’s successor was his former chief of staff, Katie Britt. He secured the Republican nomination after a bitterly expensive primary and easily won the November election. “I believe she can help. I know her very well.

Shelby said it’s up to others to judge how he will be remembered.

“For 44 years, I’ve done well in the House, the Senate. And we’ve all had our ups and downs, but we’ve had a lot of success over the years.”

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