House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzIngraham’s ratings spike a wake-up for advertisers Boehner to campaign for House GOP candidates Americans want to protect public lands, Congress should listen MORE (R-Utah) is expected to announce Thursday that he will leave Congress by the end of June, according to a Politico report.

Chaffetz caught Washington by surprise last month when he announced his retirement despite being in only his third year as chairman of the powerful House Oversight Committee.

Under the House GOP’s rules limiting chairmen to three two-year terms, Chaffetz could have kept the Oversight gavel through 2020. 

An early departure by Chaffetz would trigger a special election to replace him. Utah lawmakers are struggling to reach a consensus for how and when to schedule a special election.

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Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanScalise released from hospital after planned surgery GOP sold Americans a bill of goods with tax reform law Impeaching Rosenstein? Some Republicans are talking about it MORE (R-Wis.) said Thursday morning that he hadn't heard from Chaffetz about an early departure. A Chaffetz spokeswoman didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

Chaffetz said in his unexpected announcement last month that he wanted to return to the private sector, although he didn’t rule out a potential run for office in the future.

Washingtonian reported last week that Chaffetz has been telling fellow House Republicans that he will join Fox News, possibly as soon as July. 

Chaffetz’s departure will set off a race among Republicans to replace him atop the influential panel.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who’s third in seniority on the Oversight Committee, could run again for the chairmanship after losing to Chaffetz in 2014. But he and several other of the longest-serving members of the committee are all members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, which has repeatedly clashed with GOP leaders.

Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who chairs an Oversight subcommittee, pitched Jordan as the next chairman to The Hill on Thursday.

"Jim Jordan probably has meritoriously served and would deserve it based on merit," Meadows said.

Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), another member of the Oversight Committee in the Freedom Caucus, also made his preference clear. "My top choice would be Jim Jordan," he said. 

But Jordan and other Freedom Caucus members could face difficulty convincing the House Steering Committee, which determines committee assignments; the panel is heavily controlled by GOP leaders and their allies.

One member of the Steering Committee pitched Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyComey memo fallout is mostly fizzle Top Pruitt aide requested backdate to resignation letter: report Trump claims vindication after release of Comey memos MORE (R-S.C.) as the next Oversight Committee chairman, even though he's eighth in seniority.

Gowdy has proved himself to GOP leaders after chairing the committee that investigated the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, which helped uncover Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGeorge HW Bush wears 'book socks' to Barbara Bush's funeral to honor her passion for literacy Obamas, Clintons to attend funeral of Barbara Bush Hillary Clinton to fundraise in DC for public charter high school MORE's use of a private email server while secretary of State.

The next Oversight chairman will inherit part of the politically charged investigation into Russia's interference in the U.S. presidential election.

On Tuesday, Chaffetz asked the FBI for documents regarding ousted Director James Comey's communications with President Trump. He's also asking Comey to appear before his committee next week, following The New York Times’s bombshell report that Trump pressured him to drop an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

— This story was updated at 11:49 a.m. Scott Wong contributed.