Congressman Jeb Hensarling of Texas has become the latest Republican House member to announce his retirement.
Hensarling, who chairs the powerful Financial Services Committee, told fellow Republicans in an email Tuesday that as his term as chairman comes to an end, it's the right time to leave Congress and spend more time with his teenage kids.
Hensarling, 60, has served since 2003 in a safely Republican district east of Dallas that Democrats may now try to target. As Financial Services chairman, he has sometimes clashed with GOP leaders.
Hensarling's decision brings the number of House GOP departures or announced retirees to more than two dozen.
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A staunch conservative and longtime ally of House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Hensarling said that, "there are 14 months left in my congressional term to continue the fight for individual liberty, free enterprise, and limited constitutional government — the causes for which I remain passionate."
"He is a true constitutional conservative who understands that free enterprise is critical to a thriving America," Ryan said.
As chairman of the committee, Hensarling has had mixed success. He was on the losing side of a 2015 fight over renewal of the charter of the Export-Import Bank, which helps finance exports of U.S. goods. Hensarling opposed the effort. And he has been stymied in his attempts so far this year advance legislation tightening rules governing the money-losing national flood insurance program.
He also co-chaired the failed 2011 deficit-reduction "supercommittee," which was charged under that year's budget and debt deal to come up with deficit savings as an alternative to automatic spending cuts. Hensarling took a hard line during committee deliberations.
Earlier, Hensarling chaired the House Republican Conference, the No. 4 post in GOP leadership. He stepped down to chair Financial Services and declined other opportunities to run for leadership posts despite encouragement from fellow conservatives.
"Without fail, he has always been able to crystalize the conservative direction forward when Congress is presented with challenges," said Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C.
Hensarling's email reads:
"Today I am announcing that I will not seek reelection to the US Congress in 2018. Although service in Congress remains the greatest privilege of my life, I never intended to make it a lifetime commitment, and I have already stayed far longer than I had originally planned.
"Throughout this time, my family has graciously sacrificed for my service. As the parents of two teenagers, Melissa and I know there are only a few years left before they leave and make their own way in life. I want to be there for those years. Since my term as Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee comes to an end next year, the time seems right for my departure.
"Although I will not be running for reelection, there are 14 months left in my congressional term to continue the fight for individual liberty, free enterprise, and limited constitutional government – the causes for which I remain passionate. Much work remains at the House Financial Services Committee in the areas of housing finance reform, regulatory relief, cyber security and capital formation to name just a few. Furthermore, important work remains in the Congress as a whole – especially pro-growth tax reform. I look forward to continuing this work on behalf of the people of the 5th District of Texas and all Americans.
"I am sure we will continue communicating over the months to come, but please know how grateful I am for your help, support and friendship through the years. I could not be more appreciative of the opportunity to serve our republic and of the trust you have placed in me to advance the principles we share.
Hensarling represented the 5th district, which includes parts of Dallas, Mesquite and several East Texas counties, since 2003.