Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers Of Washington announced on Thursday that she would not be seeking reelection to the 119th Congress.
McMorris Rodgers has represented Washington’s 5th Congressional District since 2005 and is the chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has among the broadest jurisdictions of any committee. Her announcement will mean that she retires after 20 years in Congress, as well as open a coveted slot for a Republican to lead her committee.
“The best is yet to come,” wrote McMorris Rodgers in a long statement posted on Twitter, now known as X, where she thanked various individuals for her career. She did not specify the reason for her departure, though stated that “[a]fter much prayer and reflection…the time has come to serve [the people] in new ways.”
McMorris Rodgers previously served in the House Republican leadership as the Conference Chair for six years, from 2013 to 2019, during which time the party held three consecutive House majorities. In that role, she also delivered the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address in 2014.
Due to the rules of the Republican Conference, which limits committee leaders to six years of service, McMorris Rodgers would have been eligible to serve as the chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee for four more years. Her decision to retire was met with surprise from some quarters of the Capitol building, given that committee chairmanships are highly prized and most members usually finish their terms in such offices before they retire.
“Truly wild stuff. [McMorris Rodgers] only got the gavel at the start of this congress, so she had four more years under House GOP term limits to be the top Republican on one of the most powerful committees on Capitol Hill,” wrote one congressional journalist on Twitter.
McMorris Rodgers joins 19 House Republicans, many of them high-ranking, who are not seeking re-election to the body. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Patrick McHenry, who previously served as the acting speaker pro tempore of the House following the removal of Kevin McCarthy from the position, is one such member, as is House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Kay Granger.
The House Republican Conference has been beset by several controversies since Oct. 3, when McCarthy was removed on a motion to vacate the chair by Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, joined by seven from his party and backed by all Democrats, following which it took the conference three weeks to elect a speaker of the House. Most recently, the conference’s resolutions to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and to send military aid to Israel were defeated on Tuesday.
Washington’s 5th Congressional District covers the entire eastern portion of the state and includes the town of Spokane. It has a Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) score of R+8.
McMorris Rodgers’ departure means that another Republican will be elevated to hold the party’s top position in the 119th Congress on the 52-member Energy and Commerce committee. The decision will be made by the House GOP Steering Committee, which makes committee assignments.
“Sad to see Cathy McMorris Rodgers leave Congress,” wrote Republican Rep. Lisa McClain of Michigan on Twitter.
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