House Financial Services Chairman and former speaker pro tempore Patrick T. McHenry said Tuesday he would not seek reelection next year, though he will finish out his term.
The North Carolina Republican, who was the acting House speaker for about three weeks in October while his party searched for the next speaker before landing on Mike Johnson of Louisiana, cited his family and long-tenure in the House in his decision to leave Congress at the end of this, his 10th term.
“There has been a great deal of handwringing and ink spilled about the future of this institution because some — like me — have decided to leave. Those concerns are exaggerated. I’ve seen a lot of change over twenty years. I truly feel this institution is on the verge of the next great turn,” McHenry said in a statement. “Evolutions are often lumpy and disjointed but at each stage, new leaders emerge.”
Nearly two decades in Congress mellowed McHenry, 48, from a bomb-throwing backbencher to a respected dealmaker and leading voice on financial policy. But this year saw McHenry, a close ally of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., increasingly drawn into the Republican party in-fighting. He had sought to avoid that party turmoil by foregoing a run for a House leadership position and instead favoring the Financial Services chairmanship.
McHenry became the top Republican on the panel in 2019, and took the chairman’s post at the start of the 118th Congress. Under the Republican conference rules, he would have needed special permission to continue as chairman or ranking member of the committee in 2025.
McHenry’s 10th District lost some reliably Republican voters in a new map drawn by the North Carolina legislature in October, but his seat remained rated Solid Republican by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. In the redrawn district, Donald Trump’s 2020 margin over Joe Biden would have dropped from 39.5 points in 2022 to 16 points next year, according to Daily Kos Elections.
McHenry had been raising money for reelection, taking in $535,000 during the third quarter of this year and finishing the period on Sept. 30 with $3.2 million in his campaign account.
McHenry is the 16th House member to announce an intention to retire after this term, while another 16 are running for other offices and two have said they will resign early next year.
McHenry’s retirement opens the top Republican spot on the committee, which is seen as a prime fundraising position for lawmakers. The panel’s subcommittee chairs are likely to have an edge in the race to replace McHenry.
“Chairman McHenry has been a phenomenal chair. He has done a great job of developing a top-tier bench on the dais,” said Rep. Zach Nunn, a freshman Republican from Iowa on the panel. “I would be happy to see any one of the subcommittee chairmen or women be in that position.”
Reps. Andy Barr of Kentucky, Warren Davidson of Ohio, French Hill of Arkansas, Bill Huizenga of Michigan, Blaine Luetkemeyer and Ann Wagner of Missouri lead the panel’s six subcommittees.
Luetkemeyer, a former banker who chairs the Subcommittee on National Security, Illicit Finance, and International Financial Institutions, said he would consider seeking the chairmanship.
“Now that he has decided to leave, well, we certainly will be interested in throwing our hat in the ring to see if we can be the next chair,” Luetkemeyer said.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, a Democrat and fellow Missourian on the committee, said he’d like to see Luetkemeyer become the next top Republican on the panel. Whether that’s as chairman or ranking member would depend on the outcome of the election next November.
“He’s tough and very conservative, but … he’s a good guy,” Cleaver said. “The only person I know that would be better would be Maxine Waters.” Waters, D-Calif., the current ranking member, is a former panel chairwoman.
Huizenga, who chairs the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, said he’s not ruling out a bid for the chairmanship.
“I’m going to keep all my options open on that and [I’m] interested, but I think we’ve got some business we got to take care of which is getting the majority back, making sure we maintain the majority,” Huizenga said, adding that he’s helped raise money for other members on the committee.
“We’re going to keep doing that kind of stuff because I want to make sure that Monica De La Cruz is coming back, people like that,” he said referring to the freshman Republican from Texas. “I mean those are very important voices that we have in the majority.”
Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, who sits on the panel, said Hill, who chairs the Subcommittee on Digital Assets, Financial Technology and Inclusion, is the likely frontrunner, but didn’t rule out his own run for gavel. Hill’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment.
“I didn’t say I’m not going to try, but all I’m saying is I think French Hill has really positioned himself for this,” Sessions said. “French is a banker, and I think has great desire to do this.”
Davidson, who chairs the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance, said it’s too soon to say who should come next.
“We all probably have ways to handicap that race, but it’s just a good time to say thanks to Patrick McHenry, and hopefully, we’ll finish strong,” Davidson said. “He’s got a lot of good things in the pipeline. We’ve got half of the 118th Congress still left.”
Barr’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Herb Jackson contributed to this report.