House Foreign Affairs chairman to retire

House Foreign Affairs chairman to retire
© Greg Nash

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed RoyceEdward (Ed) Randall RoyceThe Hill's Morning Report: Can Trump’s VA pick make it through the week? Path to Dem majority lies in well-educated districts House lawmakers renew push for war authorization MORE (R-Calif.) announced Monday he will retire at the end of the year.

Royce is now the eighth House panel chairman to opt against seeking reelection in 2018. 

He would have potentially faced a tough path to reelection given that his district has become more competitive. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonKim Kardashian West defends Kanye on Trump: 'He's a free thinker, is that not allowed?' Trump comments on Fifth Amendment resurface after Cohen filing The 'Handmaid's Tale' liberal feminists created MORE won it by about 9 points in 2016 even as Royce, who has served in the House since 1993, won reelection by 14 points.

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He also would have had to return to the House as a rank-and-file member and relinquish his Foreign Affairs gavel due to the GOP's rules limiting chairmen to three consecutive terms.

“In this final year of my Foreign Affairs Committee chairmanship, I want to focus fully on the urgent threats facing our nation, including: the brutal, corrupt and dangerous regimes in Pyongyang and Tehran, Vladimir Putin’s continued efforts to weaponize information to fracture western democracies, and growing terrorist threats in Africa and Central Asia," Royce said in a statement.

"With this in mind, and with the support of my wife Marie, I have decided not to seek reelection in November," he said.

Royce’s retirement could make it easier for Democrats to seize a top pickup opportunity in a district won by Clinton.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report adjusted its prognostication for Royce’s district from “Lean Republican” to “Lean Democratic” after his retirement announcement. 

But the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) sounded bullish on its chances for keeping the seat red.

“Orange County has no shortage of Republican talent and a highly organized ground effort with the NRCC at the forefront. We have just one message for Democrats who think they can compete for this seat: bring it on,” NRCC chairman Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversRepublicans hold on to Arizona House seat House Republicans prepare to battle for leadership slots Farenthold resigned ahead of ethics ruling against him MORE (R-Ohio) said in a statement. 

Royce is the latest House Republican in a district at the top of Democrats’ target list to opt against seeking reelection in what’s expected to be a challenging midterm cycle for the party.

Two other Republicans who represent districts carried by Clinton in 2016 are also retiring: Reps. Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenMcMorris Rodgers seeks to tamp down unrest Among record number of female candidates, three times as many are Democrats as GOP Cuba set to pass power from Castro family MORE (Fla.) and Dave ReichertDavid (Dave) George ReichertMajor GOP super PAC expands field offices to 31 districts With bills on the table, Congress must heed the call to fix our national parks 107 House Republicans express 'deep concern' about Trump tariffs MORE (Wash.).

Democrats are also eyeing the open swing seats currently held by retiring GOP Reps. Frank LoBiondoFrank Alo LoBiondoThe Hill's Morning Report: Koch Network re-evaluating midterm strategy amid frustrations with GOP Overnight Energy: Dems raise new questions about Pruitt's security | EPA rules burning wood is carbon neutral | Fourth GOP lawmaker calls for Pruitt's ouster | Court blocks delay to car efficiency fines New Jersey lawmaker is fourth House Republican to call for Pruitt to resign MORE (N.J.), Charlie DentCharles (Charlie) Wieder DentFrustrated execs clamor for action on bank nominees Republicans divided over legislation protecting Mueller With Ryan out, let’s blow up the process for selecting the next Speaker MORE (Pa.) and Dave TrottDavid Alan TrottLoss of Ryan hits hard for House Republicans Science group reserves nearly M in airtime to boost Dems in three states House GOP Appropriations chairman calls it quits MORE (Mich.).

The relatively high number of open GOP seats underscores the challenges Republicans face this year in keeping their House majority.

Royce’s decision not to seek reelection means House Republicans will have to defend at least 30 open seats this year due to retirements, resignations and lawmakers running for other office, compared to half as many for Democrats.

In the past week alone, two other GOP House committee chairmen also announced their retirements: Transportation Chairman Bill ShusterWilliam (Bill) Franklin ShusterDelta apologizes after woman says she was tied to wheelchair by staff Pelosi urges Dems to vote against trucking amendments in FAA bill Provisions in FAA bill could strip endangered species protections MORE (Pa.) and Administration Chairman Gregg HarperGregory (Gregg) Livingston HarperOvernight Health Care: Opioid distributors summoned before Congress | Judge sets trial date in massive opioid lawsuit | Senators press DOJ to stop blocking medical marijuana Opioid distributors to testify before House committee on their role in epidemic Loss of Ryan hits hard for House Republicans MORE (Miss.).

Like Royce, Shuster is in his final year as Transportation Committee chairman due to the term limit rules. The same rules led to the retirements next year of Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb HensarlingThomas (Jeb) Jeb HensarlingOvernight Finance: Wells Fargo hit with B fine | Top lawmakers want execs punished | Banks cash in on tax law | GOP chair blasts FDIC over data security House plans May vote to repeal auto-lending guidance Hensarling, Waters say Wells Fargo execs should be punished after record fine MORE (R-Texas), Science Committee Chairman Lamar SmithLamar Seeligson SmithEPA proposal will hobble good science and harm American families Pruitt signs proposed rule to erase 'secret science' from EPA Overnight Tech: Dem presses FTC for tougher rules on Facebook data | Poll: Americans want more regs on tech | DOJ reportedly looking into AT&T, Verizon collusion | Twitter bans Kaspersky ads MORE (R-Texas) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteHouse Judiciary delays markup of prison reform bill Overnight Health Care: New allegations against VA nominee | Dems worry House moving too fast on opioid bills | HHS chief back in DC | FDA reexamines safety of controversial Parkinson's drug Conservative justices signal willingness to uphold travel ban MORE (R-Va.).

House Budget Committee Chairwoman Diane BlackDiane Lynn BlackGOP lawmaker, candidate for governor cancels NFL season tickets over protests Ex-EPA heads urge Pruitt to scrap changes to truck pollution rule Protecting nurses’ conscience: a non-negotiable in the final FY 2018 spending bill MORE (R-Tenn.) is additionally relinquishing her gavel to run for Tennessee governor, while former Rep. 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) left his post as House Oversight Committee chairman last year to take a position at Fox News.

Black, Chaffetz and Harper were not in their final years as committee chairmen.

Royce’s departure means that both of the House and Senate committees overseeing foreign relations will be led by different people next year. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerPoll: Dem leads by 3 points in Tennessee Senate race GOP anxiety grows over Trump’s Iran decision Trump backs Renacci in Ohio Senate race MORE (R-Tenn.) announced last year that he would not seek reelection.

Royce co-authored legislation last year to impose sanctions on Russia, North Korea and Iran, which passed Congress with veto-proof majorities despite reservations from President TrumpDonald John TrumpFormer Watergate prosecutor: Trump taking the fifth would be political suicide Comey: I’m ‘embarrassed and ashamed’ by Republican party Comey, Anderson Cooper clash over whether memo release violated FBI rules MORE.

—Updated at 5:52 p.m.