by Rami Ayyub, Richard Cowan
(MAINNEWS) – WASHINGTON, Democratic U.S. Representative David Cicilline, a leading voice for gay rights and a critic of Big Tech’s market power who has represented Rhode Island in Congress for over a decade, said Tuesday that he will resign from office effective June 1.
In a surprise announcement, Cicilline, a former Providence mayor, said he will become president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation, a major funder of nonprofit organizations in the state.
“The chance to lead the Rhode Island Foundation was unexpected, but it is an extraordinary opportunity to have an even more direct and meaningful impact on the lives of residents of our state,” Cicilline said in a statement.
Cicilline will remain in office until he begins work at the foundation on June 1, his office said.
Republicans have a slim majority in the House, with 222 seats. There are 212 Democrats, including Cicilline, and one vacancy that is expected to add another Democrat following voting in a special election on Tuesday.
A special election to fill Cicilline’s seat will be held sometime following his departure from Congress. It was not immediately known when that would be.
Democrats hold Rhode Island’s two U.S. Senate seats and two House seats in this “blue” state.
In November, Cicilline briefly ran for the position of assistant House Democratic leader, in a bid to raise the profile of gay issues in Congress.
He dropped out after receiving assurances from party leaders that such issues would be represented, according to a House Democratic aide. He had run against Representative James Clyburn, who has long held top party leadership jobs in the House.
First elected to the House in 2010, Cicilline has established a solidly liberal voting record, defending low-income constituents from budget cuts and accusing Facebook of failing to discourage hate speech and Russian propaganda.
Cicilline also led the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel, with the committee releasing a report in late 2020 that sharply criticized Facebook, now Meta (META.O), Alphabet’s Google (GOOGL.O), Amazon.com (AMZN.O) and Apple (AAPL.O) for abusing the power of their platforms to maintain and expand their dominance.
While little to none of the proposed antitrust legislation aimed at tech or pharmaceutical giants became law, Cicilline was one of several lawmakers who successfully pushed for more aggressive enforcement of existing law.
One of the staffers who wrote the big tech report, Lina Khan, is now head of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.
Cicilline was re-elected last November with 64% of the vote.