Dreier to end House ca­reer, va­cate top ‘gate­keeper’ post

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY SEAN LENGELL

Rep. David Dreier, the chair­man of the pow­er­ful House Rules Com­mit­tee, said Wed­nes­day that he won’t seek re-elec­tion this year, end­ing a more than three-decade con­gres­sional ca­reer and set­ting up a po­ten­tial scram­ble for his panel’s chair­man­ship.

The Rules Com­mit­tee post, while not well known be­yond Capi­tol Hill, is con­sid­ered a cru­cial slot in the House hi­er­ar­chy and one that is closely linked to the party’s lead­er­ship. Of­ten called the cham­ber’s “gate­keeper,” the com­mit­tee sets the rules for de­bate on bills on the floor and — a ma­jor source of its clout — de­cides which amend­ments pro­posed by mem­bers can be con­sid­ered by the full House.

The Cal­i­for­nia Re­pub­li­can, whose re-elec­tion prospects were complicated be­cause of re­dis­trict­ing, said he con­tem­plated re­tir­ing three years ago but de­cided against it be­cause he wanted to stay in Congress to push for spend­ing cuts, free­trade agree­ments and na­tional se­cu­rity en­hance­ments.

“This work is far from over, and I in­tend to spend this year work­ing to­ward greater bi­par­ti­san progress,” he said. “Our econ­omy and our job mar­ket re­main in peril, and the ef­fort to rein in the deficit has only just be­gun.”

Mr. Dreier, 59, con­sid­ered a mod­er­ate in the House GOP cau­cus, said he took the un­usual step to an­nounce his re­tire­ment on the House floor be­cause he was a “proud in­sti­tu­tion­al­ist.” He said he thinks the House is “as great as it has ever been.”

House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Re­pub­li­can, called Mr. Dreier “a great pa­triot and ded­i­cated public ser­vant whose re­tire­ment will be a loss for the peo­ple’s House.”

“I per­son­ally have long con­sid­ered David to be a good friend and trusted coun­selor,” Mr. Boehner said. “I know these sen­ti­ments are shared by mem­bers on both sides of the aisle, who re­spect David’s in­tel­lect and sense of fair­ness.”

Mr. Dreier was first elected to the House from the Los An­ge­les area in 1980 at age 28. He served as chair­man of the Rules Com­mit­tee from 1999 un­til 2007, when he was forced from the post af­ter Democrats gained con­trol of the House. He re­claimed the po­si­tion in 2011 af­ter Repub­li­cans re­took the cham­ber.

Rep. Pete Ses­sions of Texas is the sec­ond-rank­ing Re­pub­li­can on the Rules Com­mit­tee and in line to suc­ceed Mr. Dreier. In a state­ment is­sued un­der his role as chair­man of the Na­tional Re­pub­li­can Con­gres­sional Com­mit­tee, Mr. Ses­sions said Mr. Dreier has a “friend and a men­tor, and I will greatly miss his lead­er­ship and pres­ence in Congress.”

But there is spec­u­la­tion on Capi­tol Hill that Re­pub­li­can lead­ers could tap some­one else as the party’s top rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the panel. Reps. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina and Rob Bishop of Utah have been men­tioned, though Mrs. Foxx said Wed­nes­day that she won’t lobby for the chair­man­ship and that it’s up to Mr. Boehner to de­cide. When asked whether she would ac­cept the post if of­fered to her, she said such a sce­nario “is not likely to hap­pen.”

“I am re­ally to­tally neu­tral on this,” she said. “I just think that we should ap­pre­ci­ate David Dreier and hope that who­ever be­comes the chair does as good a job.”

Rep. Louise Mcin­tosh Slaugh­ter, a New York Demo­crat who served as chair­woman for four years but re­lin­quished the post to Mr. Dreier in 2011, likely would be her party’s choice to re­take the po­si­tion should Democrats win back con­trol of the House in the Novem­ber elec­tions.

Be­cause of re­dis­trict­ing — which has sig­nif­i­cantly al­tered the con­gres­sional map in Cal­i­for­nia — Mr. Dreier faced the pre­car­i­ous prospect of run­ning for re­elec­tion in a more Demo­cratic dis­trict or fac­ing off against an in­cum­bent in a neigh­bor­ing dis­trict.

The process has been blamed as a ma­jor in­flu­ence af­fect­ing re­tire­ment de­ci­sions of other Cal­i­for­nia in­cum­bents, in­clud­ing long­time GOP Reps. Jerry Lewis, Wally Herger and El­ton Gal­legly.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Rep. Pete Ses­sions, as the sec­ond-rank­ing Re­pub­li­can on the House Rules Com­mit­tee, is in line to suc­ceed re­tir­ing Rep. David Dreier as chair­man.

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