House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) at a March 2016 hearing. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a Texas Republican who led conservative opposition to the Troubled Asset Relief Program and has been among Congress’s fiercest foes of federal regulations, said Tuesday he will retire after his term ends.
Hensarling is set to leave the House as his term as chairman of the Financial Services Committee expires. In his six years in that post, he has pushed numerous conservative bills to pull back the federal role in overseeing the financial sector, including a bill that passed the House earlier this year repealing major parts of the Dodd-Frank law passed after the financial crisis of 2008.
“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,” he said in a statement. Noting the loss of his committee gavel, he said that “the time seems right for my departure.”
Hensarling has seen several of his legislative priorities frustrated by the Senate or by the wishes of more-moderate Republicans. The Dodd-Frank repeal bill, known as the Financial Choice Act, has not gotten Senate consideration. He has been unable to unravel the powers of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency he has strongly opposed. And a bill he supported this year to reconfigure the National Flood Insurance Program was placed on the back burner after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.
Hensarling is known more generally as an outspoken conservative. He is a former chairman of the House Republican Conference and the Republican Study Committee, and he has been a frequent subject of conservative members’ whisper campaigns for higher leadership posts — including majority leader and House speaker.
Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), the current chairman of the Republican Study Committee, said in a statement that much of that conservative group’s “modern legacy can be attributed to Chairman Hensarling’s grit and wisdom” while he served in the role from 2007 to 2009. “It is not often that we get champions in Congress for limited government and fiscal discipline like Jeb,” he said. “He will be missed.”
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House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), a close friend of Hensarling’s, hailed him as “a true constitutional conservative who understands that free enterprise is critical to a thriving America.”
“I am going to miss him and this institution will miss him, but knowing Jeb, I’m positive he has a great chapter ahead,” Ryan said.
Hensarling said he will use the remainder of his term to “continue the fight for individual liberty, free enterprise, and limited constitutional government” and to lead his committee “in the areas of housing finance reform, regulatory relief, cyber security and capital formation to name just a few.”
Texas’s 5th Congressional District is solidly Republican, comprising the eastern outskirts of Dallas as well as rural areas southeast of the city. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates the seat as having a 16-point GOP lean; President Trump won the district by 28 points last year.
Hensarling is the 12th sitting House Republican to announce plans to forgo seeking reelection.