House Foreign Affairs chairman to retire

House Foreign Affairs chairman to retire
© Greg Nash

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed RoyceEdward (Ed) Randall RoyceMystery surrounds elusive sanctions on Russia Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers struggle to understand Facebook's Libra project | EU hits Amazon with antitrust probe | New cybersecurity concerns over census | Robocall, election security bills head to House floor | Privacy questions over FaceApp House panel advances bill to protect elections from foreign interference 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 ClintonUkrainian official denies Trump pressured president The Memo: 'Whistleblower' furor gains steam Missing piece to the Ukraine puzzle: State Department's overture to Rudy Giuliani 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 StiversBill requiring carbon monoxide detectors in public housing passes House The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Republicans offer support for Steve King challenger 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-LehtinenRepublican Salazar seeks rematch with Shalala in key Miami House district Latina leaders: 'It's a women's world more than anything' Ex-GOP Rep. Roskam joins lobbying firm MORE (Fla.) and Dave ReichertDavid (Dave) George ReichertLymphedema Treatment Act would provide a commonsense solution to a fixable problem Yoder, Messer land on K Street Ex-GOP lawmaker from Washington joins lobbying firm MORE (Wash.).

Democrats are also eyeing the open swing seats currently held by retiring GOP Reps. Frank LoBiondoFrank Alo LoBiondoRepublicans plot comeback in New Jersey K Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority MORE (N.J.), Charlie DentCharles (Charlie) Wieder DentThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller testimony gives Trump a boost as Dems ponder next steps The Hill's 12:30 Report: Muller testimony dominates Washington Lawmakers, press hit the courts for charity tennis event MORE (Pa.) and Dave TrottDavid Alan TrottPro-Trump Republican immigrant to challenge Dem lawmaker who flipped Michigan seat Meet the lawmakers putting politics aside to save our climate Michigan New Members 2019 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 ShusterEx-GOP Rep. Roskam joins lobbying firm Anti-corruption group hits Congress for ignoring K Street, Capitol Hill 'revolving door' Republicans spend more than million at Trump properties MORE (Pa.) and Administration Chairman Gregg HarperGregory (Gregg) Livingston HarperCongress sends bill overhauling sexual harassment policy to Trump's desk Dems cry foul in undecided N.C. race Mississippi New Members 2019 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 HensarlingHas Congress lost the ability or the will to pass a unanimous bipartisan small business bill? Maxine Waters is the Wall Street sheriff the people deserve Ex-GOP congressman heads to investment bank MORE (R-Texas), Science Committee Chairman Lamar SmithLamar Seeligson SmithDemocratic staffer says Wendy Davis will run for Congress Ex-GOP Rep. Roskam joins lobbying firm Anti-corruption group hits Congress for ignoring K Street, Capitol Hill 'revolving door' MORE (R-Texas) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteUSCIS chief Cuccinelli blames Paul Ryan for immigration inaction Immigrant advocacy groups shouldn't be opposing Trump's raids Top Republican releases full transcript of Bruce Ohr interview MORE (R-Va.).

House Budget Committee Chairwoman Diane BlackDiane Lynn BlackBottom line Overnight Health Care: Anti-abortion Democrats take heat from party | More states sue Purdue over opioid epidemic | 1 in 4 in poll say high costs led them to skip medical care Lamar Alexander's exit marks end of an era in evolving Tennessee MORE (R-Tenn.) is additionally relinquishing her gavel to run for Tennessee governor, while former Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzHouse Oversight panel demands DeVos turn over personal email records The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - Trump attack on progressive Dems draws sharp rebuke GOP senators decline to criticize Acosta after new Epstein charges 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 CorkerTrump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid Meet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia Trump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' 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 TrumpAlaska Republican Party cancels 2020 primary Ukrainian official denies Trump pressured president Trump goes after New York Times, Washington Post: 'They have gone totally CRAZY!!!!' MORE.

—Updated at 5:52 p.m.