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No Rush to Succeed Dreier as Rules Chairman

Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo
House Rules Chairman David Dreier announced his impending retirement Wednesday, leaving a vacuum on the panel. Rather than lobby for the open spot — which will be filled by a Member picked by Speaker John Boehner — legislators took time to praise Dreier’s years of service on the panel.

Rep. David Dreier's retirement announcement Wednesday set off a race for his coveted Rules Committee chairmanship, but don't expect Members to wrestle for it anytime soon.

Who replaces the long-serving California Republican, his Conference's leader on Rules since 1999, is a decision solely up to Speaker John Boehner. Congressional observers caution that overt lobbying for the position is considered a no-no and that Dreier still wields the gavel through the end of the year.

"I cannot see lobbying for that position as either practical or worthwhile," Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), a member of the panel, said Tuesday, just hours before Dreier announced his retirement on the House floor. "Positioning yourself for this is probably counterproductive."

Instead, Members reserved Wednesday for praising Dreier's years of service and work on the Rules Committee and trade agreements. Speaking on the House floor, a venue he has dominated during contentious and complicated debates, Dreier said the kind of spirited debates he often led are good for the chamber.

"The framers of our Constitution envisioned Congress as a forum for a great clash of ideas," he said. "We all have different, sometimes radically different, views of how to build a better and stronger America. I have always believed that our efforts must be rooted in our pursuit of a free economy, personal freedom, limited government and a strong national defense. Others may take a different view. These differences demand a passionate debate, but that debate must ultimately arrive at consensus."

In a statement, Boehner noted that Dreier "has played a key role in cutting wasteful spending, passing job-creating free trade agreements, strengthening our national defense, and making the House more open to the American people."

"I personally have long considered David to be a good friend and trusted counselor," the Ohio Republican added. "I know these sentiments are shared by members on both sides of the aisle, who respect David's intellect and sense of fairness."

Indeed, the Rules chairman is a close consigliere to the Speaker, whose next selection will no doubt be carefully considered. The two apparent frontrunners are Rep. Pete Sessions (Texas), the second-ranking Republican on the Rules Committee, and Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), a previous member of the panel who is often seen wielding the gavel in the presiding officer's chair during significant floor debates.

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