Tis the season for congressmen to decide whether or not they will run for reelection next year and the usual number of them are deciding not to. Add to those ranks the powerful chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Jeb Hensarling. Citing the end of his term as Chairman and the desire to spend more time with his teenage children, Hensarling announced that he would not seek another term in 2018. (Associated Press)
Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a Texas conservative who has fought attempts to more strictly regulate Wall Street and the banking sector, said Tuesday that he’ll be the latest Republican House member to retire at the end of the current term of Congress.
Hensarling, who chairs the powerful Financial Services Committee, told fellow Republicans in an email that as his term as chairman comes to an end, it’s the right time to leave Congress and spend more time with his two teenage kids.
Hensarling’s decision brings the number of House GOP departures or announced retirees to more than two dozen.
We tend to jump into reading the tea leaves when an announcement like this one comes out, but it’s hard to see any reason for this particular retirement beyond the ones stated by the congressman. There may have been some minor friction with the White House over Hensarling’s eagerness to regulate Wall Street, but beyond that, he didn’t seem to have too many problems with President Trump. He’s gotten along well enough with “the establishment” and is a long-time ally of Speaker Ryan, but he never seemed to show up in many of the “drain the swamp” conversations. It’s also worth noting that he was an opponent of the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
It’s not as if Hensarling was being forced out or was in any apparent peril next year. There’s been absolutely zero serious talk of a primary challenge to him that I’ve heard. As far as the general election goes, Texas’ 5th District is about as red as they come and he was a very popular representative. The Democrats frequently haven’t even put a candidate on the ballot there over the past decade and even when they did, Hensarling won with vote totals ranging from 65% to close to 80%.
In short, there was absolutely no obvious reason for him to leave other than an earnest desire to return to his home and family life. And at 60 years old the guy has obviously earned a break if he wants one. The problem with the couple of dozen Republicans retiring next year, even in safe districts, is that it opens up a primary battle and drains resources which could probably have been better used elsewhere. In the more marginal races (not including this one) it might even open the door to some Democratic takeaways. Hensarling’s departure will also kick off a hopefully minor tussle over who gets to take over the chair on his committee.
It’s a shame to see him go. Hensarling has been a committed budget hawk who was always a strong voice arguing for fiscal restraint, spending cuts and tax reform. Here’s wishing him the best and a happy retirement.