Dreier to End House Career, Vacate Top 'Gatekeeper' Post
Byline: Sean Lengell, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
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, free-trade 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. …