Congress

Oversight Chairman Gowdy won't seek reelection

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) / Photo: House Oversight and Government Reform Committee 

After a short stint holding the House Oversight and Government Reform gavel, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) announced plans to leave Congress.

Gowdy took over the Oversight committee when Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz retired from Congress mid-session in 2017. Gowdy was elevated over more senior members, in part because of his high-profile leadership of the House Select Committee on Benghazi and in part because other leading candidates for the post were out of favor with Republican leaders.

Gowdy said in a statement posted on Twitter that he plans on returning to legal practice in some capacity. "Whatever skills I may have are better utilized in a courtroom than in Congress, and I enjoy our justice system more than our political system," he said.

Gowdy's exit is the latest in a wave of retirements by senior House Republicans, including many committee chairs. Departing chairs include Reps. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), who heads Appropriations; Michael McCaul (R-Texas), head of the Homeland Security Committee; Ed Royce (R-Calif.), leader of the Foreign Affairs committee; Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee; and others.

Many retiring chairmen have exhausted the six-year term limit enshrined in Republican conference rules, but Gowdy was just named to head Oversight, and he could have wielded the gavel for years to come, provided Republicans held the majority.

It's not clear who could be next in line for the Oversight chair if Republicans hang on to control of the chamber in the face of expected Democratic gains in the 2018 elections.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) was considered a candidate for the post when Chaffetz retired, but his Freedom Caucus activities have not been looked upon favorably by the House Steering Committee, which selects committee leaders.  Jordan currently chairs the Oversight Subcommittee on Healthcare, Benefits and Administrative Rules.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who heads the powerful Government Operation subcommittee of the Oversight panel, is also the current chair of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus. Meadows was briefly stripped of his subcommittee chairmanship by Chaffetz in 2015 after casting a vote that irked House leadership.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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