House Foreign Affairs chairman to retire

House Foreign Affairs chairman to retire
© Greg Nash

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed RoyceEdward (Ed) Randall RoyceFormer GOP chairman Royce joins lobbying shop Lawmakers propose banning shark fin trade Bottom Line 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 ClintonForget the spin: Five unrefuted Mueller Report revelations Former senators launching effort to help Dems win rural votes Biden's announcement was a general election message, says political analyst 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 StiversCongress can open financial institutions to legal cannabis industry with SAFE Banking Act Democrats ask GOP to join pledge not to use 'stolen information' in 2020 campaigns Russia's election interference is a problem for the GOP 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-LehtinenK Street boom extends under Trump, House Dems Bottom Line The women in white and the trails they blaze MORE (Fla.) and Dave ReichertDavid (Dave) George ReichertYoder, Messer land on K Street Ex-GOP lawmaker from Washington joins lobbying firm Outgoing GOP rep says law enforcement, not Congress should conduct investigations MORE (Wash.).

Democrats are also eyeing the open swing seats currently held by retiring GOP Reps. Frank LoBiondoFrank Alo LoBiondoThe 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority LoBiondo launches consulting firm Live coverage: House elects new Speaker as Dems take charge MORE (N.J.), Charlie DentCharles (Charlie) Wieder DentThe Hill's Morning Report - Government is funded, but for how long? Ex-GOP lawmaker says his party is having a 'Monty Python' moment on shutdown Former GOP lawmaker: Republicans know shutdown is ‘a fight they cannot win’ MORE (Pa.) and Dave TrottDavid Alan TrottMeet the lawmakers putting politics aside to save our climate Michigan New Members 2019 Democrats flip Michigan seat in race between two political newcomers 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 ShusterK Street boom extends under Trump, House Dems Ex-GOP congressman heads to investment bank Former GOP chairman Royce joins lobbying shop 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 HensarlingMaxine Waters is the Wall Street sheriff the people deserve Ex-GOP congressman heads to investment bank The next two years of federal housing policy could be positive under Mark Calabria MORE (R-Texas), Science Committee Chairman Lamar SmithLamar Seeligson SmithK Street boom extends under Trump, House Dems Ex-GOP congressman heads to investment bank Former GOP chairman Royce joins lobbying shop MORE (R-Texas) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteTop Republican releases full transcript of Bruce Ohr interview It’s time for Congress to pass an anti-cruelty statute DOJ opinion will help protect kids from dangers of online gambling MORE (R-Va.).

House Budget Committee Chairwoman Diane BlackDiane Lynn BlackLamar Alexander's exit marks end of an era in evolving Tennessee Juan Williams: The GOP's worsening problem with women How to reform the federal electric vehicle tax credit MORE (R-Tenn.) is additionally relinquishing her gavel to run for Tennessee governor, while former Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzLawmakers contemplate a tough political sell: Raising their pay Top Utah paper knocks Chaffetz as he mulls run for governor: ‘His political career should be over’ Boehner working on memoir: report 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 CorkerEx-GOP Sen. Corker: Trump primary would be 'good thing for our country' Pollster says Trump unlikely to face 'significant' primary challenge GOP gets used to saying 'no' to Trump 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 TrumpForget the spin: Five unrefuted Mueller Report revelations Lara Trump: Merkel admitting migrants 'one of the worst things that ever happened to Germany' Financial satisfaction hits record high: survey MORE.

—Updated at 5:52 p.m.