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 Dreiers years of service on the panel.
"Pete Sessions has been there a long time," Bishop said Tuesday. "Doc Hastings was there a long time and is coming at the end of his cycle over at the committee at which he is, so you've got all sorts of options that are out there."
Sessions, who is chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, has served on Rules for 14 years and is widely considered to have leadership ambitions. After steering the GOP to a landslide win in 2010, Sessions mulled a run against Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) to be Whip but was ultimately dissuaded by Boehner.
In a statement, Sessions said, "It is an honor to serve as Vice Chairman of the Rules Committee under Chairman Dreier — a stalwart defender of Republican principles — and I would consider it a privilege to build upon my 14 years of service on the committee by continuing his legacy of tireless leadership and consummate professionalism."
Hastings was more demure in a statement, praising Dreier as "a skilled leader with a deep, reverent commitment to the institution of the House. I learned a great deal from Chairman Dreier during our service in the House and on the Rules Committee. I will miss him as a colleague and a friend."
The Washington lawmaker served on the Rules Committee from 1997 to 2007, leaving to take the helm of the Natural Resources panel that he now chairs.
A Democratic aide noted that because the party's leader picks the Rules chairman, rarely is there a contentious contest for the top spot, and the only reason for speculation this time around is because Hastings was ahead of Sessions on the panel before he vacated his seat.
"Usually people fall in line," the aide pointed out.
Dreier's retirement decision this year was spurred along when the California Citizens Redistricting Commission carved up his district, leaving him with no clear constituency to represent. The 16-term lawmaker put up dismal fundraising numbers in the fourth quarter of 2011, hauling in just more than $10,000, making his retirement announcement just a matter of time.
The dapper lawmaker's longtime Democratic counterpart on the Rules Committee, Rep. Louise Slaughter, is facing her own redistricting woes as New Yorkers work through their latest iteration of a district map. While she appears to be safe, one Democratic aide cautioned that "she's not out of the woods" until the Empire State's map is finalized. Slaughter has maintained that she is running for re-election this year.
Dreier and Slaughter have had a contentious relationship at times, trading barbs in committee and on the floor over the years. Dreier's polished style is the opposite of Slaughter's brass approach, but on Wednesday, the New Yorker noted her relationship with Dreier as a special one.
"Mr. Dreier and I share the common bond of having led this important and historic committee through some of the House's most important debates," she said.