House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), the first woman to hold that position, will not seek reelection. She will leave Congress at the end of this term after nearly 20 years of service in the House, reported The Washington Post.
Rodgers said she will look for “new ways” to serve the people of Eastern Washington in a statement late Thursday. The lawmaker said she will spend the rest of the year “honoring the Committee’s rich history — plowing the hard ground necessary to legislate on solutions to make people’s lives better and ensure America wins the future.”
Rodgers became the first woman to lead the Energy and Commerce Committee in 2023, after Republicans took back the House. Before that, she served as the panel’s ranking Republican for two years. Under House GOP conference rules for committee leadership, Rodgers could have served another two years as the top Republican on the committee, Roll Call reported.
Rodgers was also the second woman ever to become GOP conference chair, making her, for years, one of the most powerful women in the House. She served in that role from 2013 to 2019 and, before that, served as vice chair of the conference, according to The Washington Post.
Rodgers is the third Republican committee chair to choose not to run for reelection ahead of what experts predict will likely be a contentious effort by the party to hold onto the House, notes CNN. Financial Services Committee Chair Patrick T. McHenry (R-NC) and Appropriations Committee Chair Kay Granger (R-TX) both announced last year that they will not return to the House in 2025.
The Energy and Commerce Committee is losing several Republicans to retirement, according to Politico. The list includes Michael Burgess of Texas, the second most senior Republican on the Committee, Larry Bucshon of Indiana, Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, John Curtis of Utah, Greg Pence of Indiana, and Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota. Bill Johnson of Ohio resigned last month to become president of Youngstown State University, notes CBS.
On the Democratic side of the committee, Anna Eshoo of California and John Sarbanes of Maryland are leaving, Inside Towers reported.
Rodgers did not say what she intends to do next, but left the door open for another act, saying “the best is yet to come.”
Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) said Rodgers’ departure would be “an incredible loss for Congress. It’s no secret that getting things done around here is hard work, but Cathy and I have been able to get important legislation passed.”
Brett Guthrie (R-KY), chair of the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Health, is running to succeed McMorris Rodgers as chair of the full committee, his spokesperson told Axios.
By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief