House Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers is departing Congress just two years after taking the panel’s helm.
McMorris Rodgers, a Republican who has represented an eastern Washington state district since 2004, announced Thursday that she won’t seek reelection this year and will leave when her current term ends in January 2024.
“It’s been the honor and privilege of my life to represent the people of Eastern Washington in Congress. They inspire me every day,” she said in a statement.
“After much prayer and reflection, I’ve decided the time has come to serve them in new ways. I will not be running for re-election to the People’s House.”
McMorris Rodgers, 54, thanked her family and pointed to her accomplishments, including at Energy and Commerce, which has a broad jurisdiction encompassing energy, the environment, health, communications and more.
“We will spend this 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,” she said.
McMorris Rodgers became the top Republican on the panel in 2021, following the retirement of then-Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.). She became its chair last year — the first female to do so — after Republicans took the House majority. The committee has faced a wave of retirements in recent months.
Her time atop the committee has been characterized in part by opposition to President Joe Biden’s environmental policies. She has led in efforts challenging implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act, regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions and restrictions on fossil fuels.
Just this week, she lambasted Biden during a committee hearing on the administration’s pause on permitting new liquefied natural gas export terminals.
She’s also been a fierce advocate for hydropower, including fighting against proposals to remove dams in the Pacific Northwest. She is a backer of nuclear power, with a focus on encouraging new nuclear technologies and stopping the use of imported Russian uranium.
McMorris Rodgers worked her way up in House GOP leadership and became chair of the House Republican Conference in 2013, a position she held until 2019. Former President Donald Trump considered picking her to be Interior secretary in 2016 before he chose Ryan Zinke.
She’s given birth to three children while in the House, a record for in-office births. Her other legislative priorities have included cracking down on technology companies and helping people with disabilities.
Her constituency, Washington state’s 5th District, is reliably Republican, and will very likely elect another Republican to succeed her.