At least four House GOP committee chairs reveal plans to retire at end of term, including three announcements in one week

 February 17, 2024

Though not yet at record level, there has nonetheless been an inordinately high number of members of Congress from both parties who have announced plans to retire at the end of the current term rather than seek re-election to serve another two years in the legislative body.

That includes an apparent "exodus" of House Republican leadership, with the announced retirements of three prominent committee chairs within one week, according to the Associated Press.

Those retirements were deemed "particularly noteworthy" given none of the retiring members were at risk of losing their leadership positions, and only one appeared to face the prospect of a primary challenge.

McMorris Rodgers stepping down

The rapid-fire retirement announcements of the three House GOP chairs within a week began on Feb. 8, when the Washington State Standard reported that Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) revealed that she would not run for re-election after spending two decades in Congress.

First elected in 2004, McMorris Rodgers eventually rose to the leadership ranks and served as House Republican Conference chair from 2012 to 2018, then in 2023 took over as chair of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee.

"It’s been the honor and privilege of my life to represent the people of Eastern Washington in Congress," the congresswoman said in a statement. "After much prayer and reflection, I’ve decided the time has come to serve them in new ways."

Gallagher and Green are out

Just two days later, on Feb. 10, Fox News reported that Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), who chaired the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, announced that he would not seek re-election for the seat he first won in the 2016 election.

He stated that "the Framers intended citizens to serve in Congress for a season and then return to their private lives," and added, "Electoral politics was never supposed to be a career and, trust me, Congress is no place to grow old. And so, with a heavy heart, I have decided not to run for re-election."

The AP noted that Gallagher's announcement came just days after he had voted against the impeachment of Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas, which sparked fury among his colleagues and constituents and set the stage for a likely primary challenge that will now be avoided.

Interestingly enough, Axios reported just four days later, on Feb. 14, that Rep. Mark Green (R-TN), chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, and the member most responsible for shepherding the Mayorkas impeachment measure to passage, also announced that he planned to retire instead of seek re-election to another term.

Though he was proud of what he had accomplished during his tenure in Congress, he also expressed his "frustration" with how "broken" and dysfunctional the legislative body had become over the years.

Granger called it quits last year

Those back-to-back-to-back retirement announcements followed several months after the late October announcement from Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), chair of the hugely influential House Appropriations Committee, would not run for re-election for the seat she'd held since 1997, according to The Texas Tribune.

The AP surmised that while some of the House GOP leadership retirements were driven by discouragement with how Congress operates these days, it could also be at least in part due to an aversion of those members to serve as the minority party once again, should the Republicans fail to retain their majority party status following the 2024 elections.

Thus far, according to the House Press Gallery's "Casualty List," a total of 44 members have announced retirement plans, including 21 Republicans and 23 Democrats, in addition to another seven members who resigned early, were expelled, or died in office, though some of those seven have already been replaced in special elections.

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