Last week I was at two events that, in very different ways, encapsulated significant aspects of my life. The first was in Washington, where I was invited to testify before the House Intelligence Committee, along with four other retired members of Congress — two Republicans, Frank LoBiondo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and two Democrats, Jane Harman and Jim Langevin, who had also served on the committee. Except for a few fleeting hours in February, this was my first time back in Washington since late December 2020, just days before my retirement.
The chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Republican Mike Turner, and the ranking member, Democrat Jim Himes, wanted our perspective on what the committee’s current focus should be, and on the need to restore bipartisanship, which has been sorely lacking over the past six years. In my testimony, I stressed the necessity of not losing sight of the continuing threat of Islamist terrorism. None of us wants to experience another 9/11, and the terrorists are in many ways as lethal as they were on Sept. 10, 2001.
I also joined my former colleagues in strongly urging bipartisanship. The committee is a vital component of our national security, and should not be politicized.
Besides testifying, I met with Long Island Representatives Andrew Garbarino, Anthony D’Esposito and Nick LaLota and joined Speaker Kevin McCarthy at a meeting in his office with elected officials from Northern Ireland. I also ran into various congressmen, Capitol Police officers and reporters I knew from my days on the Hill. And I went to my old haunt, the Dubliner, to have dinner with staff members from my office and the Homeland Security Committee.
Being back in the halls of Congress with current and former members brought back 28 years of memories encompassing victories, tough losses and challenges as well as meetings with presidents and world leaders. While I made the decision to retire from Congress and turn the page, I never regret even a day that I was fortunate to be there. Those were almost three decades of unparalleled moments that I had never imagined I would experience.
Peter King is a former congressman, and a former chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security.