Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling latest GOP House retirement

Andrew Taylor and Erica Werner
Associated Press

Washington — Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a Texas conservative who has fought attempts to more strictly regulate Wall Street and the banking sector, said Tuesday that he’ll be the latest Republican House member to retire at the end of the current term of Congress.

Hensarling, who chairs the powerful Financial Services Committee, told fellow Republicans in an email that as his term as chairman comes to an end, it’s the right time to leave Congress and spend more time with his two teenage kids.

Hensarling’s decision brings the number of House GOP departures or announced retirees to more than two dozen.

A staunch conservative and longtime ally of House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Hensarling said that, “there are 14 months left in my congressional term to continue the fight for individual liberty, free enterprise, and limited constitutional government — the causes for which I remain passionate.”

“He is a true constitutional conservative who understands that free enterprise is critical to a thriving America,” Ryan said.

Hensarling, 60, has served since 2003 in a safely Republican district east of Dallas. As Financial Services chairman, he has sometimes clashed with GOP leaders like former Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

“I never intended to make it a lifetime commitment, and I have already stayed far longer than I had originally planned,” the eight-term lawmaker wrote.

As chairman of the committee, Hensarling has had mixed success. He was on the losing side of a 2015 fight over renewal of the charter of the Export-Import Bank, which helps finance exports of U.S. goods. Hensarling opposed the effort. And he has been stymied in his attempts so far this year advance legislation tightening rules governing the money-losing national flood insurance program.

He also co-chaired the failed 2011 deficit-reduction “supercommittee,” which was charged under that year’s budget and debt deal to come up with deficit savings as an alternative to automatic spending cuts. Hensarling took a hard line during committee deliberations.

Earlier, Hensarling chaired the House Republican Conference, the No. 4 post in GOP leadership. He stepped down to chair Financial Services and declined other opportunities to run for leadership posts despite encouragement from fellow conservatives.

“Without fail, he has always been able to crystalize the conservative direction forward when Congress is presented with challenges,” said Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C.