U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-1st) in January announced that he will not be seeking re-election for a 16th term. Rush will finish out his current term in the U.S. Congress — where he has served continuously since 1993 — and continue working as a preacher, an activist, and a community organizer.
“After nearly three decades in Congress, I have been reassigned,” Rush said. “Let me make it clear that I am not retiring, I am returning. I’m returning home, returning to my church, returning to my family and grandchildren — but my calling to a life of service is stronger than ever. I am expanding my tent beyond the guardrails of Congress, and I can see clearly that the next step for my continued service stems from my transformational embrace by the Holy Spirit. I’m returning to my passion — that is, to share the special power of love that transforms hearts and minds.
“My faith tells me that there’s a reason I’m still here,” Rush continued. “By all rights, I should have been murdered on Dec. 5, 1969, the day after the police assassinated Fred Hampton. They came for me the next day, shot down my door, but — by the grace of God — my family and I were not home. Decades later, my life was spared again in my fight against cancer. I am not leaving the battlefield. I am going to be an activist as long as I’m here in the land of the living, and I will be making my voice heard in the public realm — from the pulpit, in the community, and in the halls of power.
“I am proud of my legacy in Congress,” Rush added. “I come from the Black experience, but I have a deep-seated love for all of humanity. As a former leader of the Black Panther Party, I was involved in the organizing of the original Rainbow Coalition. I have a long history of organizing on behalf of and serving people in need, regardless of race or other affiliations. I am eager to continue working tirelessly for justice and equality over my next 12 months in Congress and beyond.
“I love the voters of the 1st Congressional District, and I am immensely grateful to them for sending me to work on their behalf for nearly 30 years,” Rush concluded. “I look forward to working hand in hand with my colleagues who remain in Congress and with the next representative of the 1st Congressional District.”
Rush received a master’s degree in Theology from the McCormick Theological Seminary in 1998 and was ordained the same year. He is currently a pastor at the Beloved Community Church of God in Christ in Woodlawn. The dean of the Illinois Congressional delegation in the House of Representatives, Rush has maintained his seat in the 1st Congressional District through challenges and remaps of the historically majority-Black district, where voters have elected Black representatives since 1929, and Democrats since 1935. Rush famously defeated a challenge in his 2000 primary from a community organizer backed by many party leaders — this race was the only electoral contest ever lost by future U.S. President Barack Obama.
Rush is a 13-year survivor of a rare form of salivary gland cancer. In 2008, Rush underwent an intensive surgical procedure to remove a cancerous tumor, which severely damaged his vocal cords and impacted his ability to project his voice.
Throughout his nearly three decades in Congress, Rush has focused his work on social justice and economic equity for Black Americans. He currently serves as the chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy — a post he has held since 2019 — where he fights for the inclusion of minorities in the energy sector, environmental justice, and policies to combat climate change. Previously, Rush served as chair on the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection from 2007 to 2011.
Top highlights from Rep. Rush’s legislative career include:
Civil Rights and Justice
- Secured the passage of the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act in 2019 to increase public access to Civil Rights Cold Case records and to facilitate the solving of these heinous crimes to bring closure to families.
- Offered and secured passage of a FY2020 amendment to increase funding by $2 million for the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program to help clear rape kit backlogs in light of the disturbing number of missing Black women and girls in Chicago and around the country.
- Authored and continuing to fight for passage of the Emmett Till Antilynching Act to designate lynching as a federal hate crime, which passed the House of Representatives in 2020.
- Authored and secured passage of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 to reform and strengthen the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and empower CPSC to stop dangerous products from harming American consumers, and kids in particular.
Energy, Climate, and Environment
- Authored and secured the inclusion of the Enhancing State Energy Security Planning and Emergency Preparedness Act in 2021 as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to enhance the security of America’s energy grid by providing Federal financial assistance to states to implement, review, and revise state energy security plans.
- Advocated for and helped secure $288 million for clean and safe drinking water in Illinois, including $107 million for removing lead from pipes in Illinois in 2021 as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
- Authored and secured passage of a bill authorizing $15 million to replace old drinking water fountains in schools that contained lead.
- Was instrumental in passing the Energy Act of 2020, which included tens of billions of dollars of new energy research and development, some of which will be done at Illinois’ national labs.
- Authored the Blue Collar to Green Collar Jobs Development Act, legislation to increase the number of Americans of color with access to high-paying energy jobs, which passed the House of Representatives as part of the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act and the Moving Forward Act in 2020.
- Called for a Federal investigation of water issues in Crestwood in 2011 that subsequently exposed an illegal scheme by the then-Mayor to profit off the use of contaminated water that resulted in numerous individuals across Crestwood becoming sick with cancer and other diseases.
Health and Nutrition
- Authored and secured passage of the Melanie Blocker Stokes Mom’s Opportunity to Access Health, Education, Research, and Support for Postpartum Depression (MOTHERS) Act in 2010 as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to provide Federal funding for support services and education for new mothers and their families, as well as funding research into the causes, diagnoses, and treatments for postpartum depression.
- Secured provisions in the 21st Century Cures Act in 2016 to increase the inclusion of underrepresented communities in clinical trials and to ensure that it remains a priority that our future biomedical workforce includes those from traditionally underrepresented communities.
- Secured a provision in the Support for Patients and Communities Act in 2018 to expand substance abuse treatment coverage to individuals suffering from cocaine use disorder.
- Codified the phrase “food deserts” in the 2008 Farm Bill and has tirelessly fought to address the inequity and health hazards posed by lack of access to affordable, healthy foods.
- Fought for the creation of a Level 1 adult trauma center at the University of Chicago, which came to fruition in 2015, meaning that residents of the South Side no longer have to travel to Advocate Christ Medical Center or Northwestern Memorial Hospital to receive urgent and lifesaving care.
- Over the course of his Congressional career, brought over $32 billion for roads and bridges to Illinois and billions for public transportation including:
- $20 million in Federal funding in 2012 to modernize the 95th Street Station as part of the 95th Street Terminal Improvement Project.
- $1.07 billion in Federal grant funding in 2017 for the Red and Purple Modernization Project to expand capacity on one of the busiest corridors of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) system.
- $1.48 million in Federal funding in 2018 to help expand the Red Line southward from 95th Street to 130th Street.
For more information, see https://rush.house.gov/.