Tauzin to Give Up Chairmanship, Mulls PhRMA Offer

Posted February 3, 2004 at 7:03pm

Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) will step down as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee on Feb. 16 and will not run for re-election. Tauzin told Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) in a letter hand-delivered late Tuesday that he had “concluded that I should also allow the Committee on Energy and Commerce to begin transition to new leadership.”

Tauzin also used the letter to formally declare that he was retiring from Congress, and cited health concerns as a factor in his decision. “My recent time spent at the Bethesda Naval Hospital has reminded me of how precious time and life are and how dear my family and friends are,” Tauzin wrote. He gave no date of when he would actually leave Congress.

Separately, industry sources told Roll Call that Tauzin has received an offer to become president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturing Association.

Tauzin spokesman Ken Johnson would not confirm that his boss has received an offer from the drug industry lobby.

“He has recused himself from health care matters,” Johnson said.

Johnson said Tauzin made the decision on Sunday after speaking with his family, adding Tauzin was not pressured to step down from the committee by House leaders

“Absolutely no one in the leadership — not a single person — asked him to step down as chairman. It was his decision and his alone,” Johnson said.

“Ultimately, a couple of recent health scares prompted him to reassess where he is at in life and where he wants to go next,” Johnson added.

Tauzin’s decided to step down from the committee Feb. 16 in order to allow for an “orderly transition” and to give the GOP Steering Committee time to meet to choose a successor.

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) is considered the frontrunner to replace Tauzin.