Major Republican House Panel chairman just announced early retirement

Another one bites the dust. The seventh House GOP panel chairman to do so since the beginning of last year has announced his retirement.

Rep. Gregg Harper of Mississippi is the chairman of the House Administration committee and has only served in the House since 2009.

He has declined to seek reelection this year, meaning his retirement will cap a robust 10-year term on Capitol Hill.

Harper issued a statement on Twitter.

“The opportunity to serve the people of the 3rd District, our state, and our country is something that my wife, Sidney, and I will never forget. We have been contemplating for almost two years when it would be our time not to run again, and after spending time over Christmas and New Year’s with my family, we made the very difficult decision to say that 10 years will be long enough. I never intended for this to be a career, and it will soon be time for another conservative citizen legislator to represent us,” he said.

The House rules state that committee chairmen are limited to three consecutive two-year terms in those positions, but that doesn’t affect Harper. He only chaired the Administrative committee for a year.

A host of other GOP committee chairmen have announced their retirement in connection with the term limit rule.

Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) all announced retirements in the last year citing that reason.

But Jason Chaffetz of Utah stepped down as chair of the House Oversight Committee early, and Diane Black of Tennessee announced her plan to step away from the House Budget Committee after only a year.

It’s hard to tell what the real reason for this spate of early retirements is. The term limits rule is convenient for those to which it applies, but it looks like a wave of Republican frustration is starting to crest. Looks like they’re all throwing their hands up in despair at the same time.

With Harper leaving, it brings the total number of open Republican seats for this coming 2018 midterm season to 29. There are 16 retirements, 2 resignations, and 10 people leaving to run for other office. The Democrats, on the other hand have only 15 open seats to defend. Just one is the result of a resignation – John Conyers of Michigan.

Harper’s announcement leaves the GOP more vulnerable than ever, with the stench of Trump spreading to the rest of the party.