Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby announced Monday he would retire from the U.S. Senate in a move that has been anticipated for several months.
Shelby, 86, issued a statement confirming his plans not to run again in 2022. He will serve the remainder of his term.
“Today I announce that I will not seek a seventh term in the United States Senate in 2022,” Shelby said in the statement. “For everything, there is a season.”
Shelby’s retirement is a blow for Alabama, given his seniority in the Senate and his ability to funnel millions of dollars to the state for various projects over the years – most recently an FBI campus at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville expected to top $1 billion. He was also widely credited for the Air Force decision to designate Huntsville as the “preferred site” for U.S. Space Command headquarters.
Shelby served as the chair of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee — the committee that shapes federal spending — until Democrats won control of the Senate last month. Shelby is now vice chair of appropriations and the senior Republican on the committee.
“I am grateful to the people of Alabama who have put their trust in me for more than forty years,” Shelby said in the statement. “I have been fortunate to serve in the U.S. Senate longer than any other Alabamian. During my time in the Senate, I have been given great opportunity, having chaired four committees: Appropriations, Rules, Banking, and Intelligence. In these positions of leadership, I have strived to influence legislation that will have a lasting impact – creating the conditions for growth and opportunity.
“Serving in the U.S. Senate has been the opportunity of a lifetime. I have done my best to address challenges and find ways to improve the day-to-day lives of all Americans. I have also focused on the economic challenges of Alabamians, increasing access to education and promoting facilities to improve the quality of schools. I have worked to enhance Alabama’s role in space exploration and the security of our nation. Further, I have supported the utilization of Alabama’s greatest resources, including its unparalleled river system and the Port of Mobile.”
U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, the dean of Alabama’s delegation in the House, described Shelby’s retirement as a “huge loss to Alabama.”
“Senator Shelby’s retirement will be a huge loss to Alabama and to our nation,” Aderholt said in a statement. “His work and influence has been felt in every corner of our state. Alabama’s economic strength owes a lot to his leadership. I look forward to continuing to work with him the next two years on our respective Appropriations Committees to continue to serve and deliver for the people of Alabama.”
Gov. Kay Ivey echoed Aderholt’s comments.
“Few people have had a more consequential impact on our state than Sen. Richard Shelby,” the governor said in a statement. “During his 42 years of service in Washington — and even before than during his time in the Alabama Legislature — Sen. Shelby was always influenced by the guiding principle of doing what was best for Alabama. His legacy will be felt for generations to come.”
The Associated Press reported Friday, citing unidentified sources, that Shelby was telling friends he would not run again in 2022.
“Although I plan to retire, I am not leaving today,” Shelby’s statement said. “I have two good years remaining to continue my work in Washington. I have the vision and the energy to give it my all.
“Thank you again for the honor you have given me – the honor to serve the people of Alabama in Congress for the last 42 years. I look forward to what is to come for our great state and our great nation.”
Shelby is a Birmingham native served four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives before being elected to the Senate in 1986. A highlight of his tenure has been his work in deepening and widening the Port of Mobile, a project his statement said Monday he believes “will have a monumental and long-term impact on Alabama’s economy.”
Shelby also highlighted his work in building up the U.S. military.
“He has worked to ensure that our nation’s warfighters are equipped with the tools they need to protect and defend the country,” Shelby’s announcement said.
Shelby has previously served as chair of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee and is the longest-serving member on the committee in history. He introduced legislation in 2003 and 2005 to reform government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and led efforts to tailor financial regulations following the Dodd-Frank Act and in 2015 introduced a reform bill to roll back regulations on “Main Street banks and businesses,” which became the framework for a reform bill signed into law in 2018.
Shelby lives in Tuscaloosa with his wife, Annette.
“My service in the U.S. Senate would not have been possible without those who have encouraged me over the years,” Shelby said in the announcement. “I am particularly grateful for the support of my wife, Annette, and my entire family. Additionally, my staff, whose determination and loyalty have been unwavering, has been absolutely necessary in achieving my goals.”
Updated today, Feb. 8, 2021 at 11:36 a.m. with additional information throughout.