Updated: 5:38 p.m.
Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) will not be leaving Congress on Monday, as he announced earlier this week, but will instead stay through the upcoming House vote on a health care overhaul.
“Just two days after I announced my intentions to leave Congress, the majority party stepped up the schedule for the proposed health care bill,” Deal said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “Having been deeply involved in all health care legislation for the past decade, I knew it was important to stay and vote down this bill.”
President Barack Obama on Wednesday asked Congress to get him a health care reform bill within the next three weeks.
Deal is running for governor of Georgia. State party leaders had encouraged him resign his seat so he could dedicate himself full time to the race. But House GOP leaders urged Deal to stick around Washington a little longer after realizing that his departure would lower the threshold for passage of the health care bill from 217 to 216 votes.
Deal is still expected to leave Congress by April.
“When dealing with legislation of the size, scope, and cost of the Democrats’ health care overhaul, every Member of Congress should be listening to his constituents and representing their viewpoints. Nathan Deal is doing just that, and I join many Georgians and Americans in praising his decision,” House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said.
Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) agreed.
“Nathan Deal’s decision to remain in Congress for the upcoming health care vote is indicative of his long dedication to standing up for a common-sense approach to changing health care,” Boehner said. “I’m pleased I can count on him now, just as I have during our years of service together in the House.”
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.), who has been one of Deal’s biggest supporters for governor in the House, said Obama’s announcement this week “changed the equation.”
“So close to the finish line, [Deal] knew he had to stay and fight this out to the end,” Westmoreland said.