Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), chairwoman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, will not seek reelection and will leave Congress at the end of this term after nearly 20 years.
In a statement Thursday, McMorris Rodgers said she will look for “new ways” to serve the people of Eastern Washington.
“It’s been the honor and privilege of my life to represent the people of Eastern Washington in Congress. They inspire me every day,” McMorris Rodgers said. “They are part of the strength and soul of America — the greatest experiment in self-governance the world has ever known.”
McMorris Rodgers, 54, became the first woman to lead the Energy and Commerce Committee in 2023 after Republicans took back the House. Before that, she served as the panel’s ranking Republican for two years. McMorris Rodgers’s leadership of the panel had not yet reached its term limit so, had she chosen to run for reelection, she could’ve continued leading the influential House committee.
In her statement, McMorris Rodgers said she will spend the rest of the year “honoring the Committee’s rich history — plowing the hard ground necessary to legislate on solutions to make people’s lives better and ensure America wins the future.”
McMorris Rodgers was also the second woman ever to become GOP conference chair, making her, for years, one of the most powerful women in the House. She served in that role from 2013 to 2019 and, before that, served as vice chair of the conference.
As the top Republican on the Energy and Commerce panel, McMorris Rodgers has spent the past year leading efforts to limit the Biden administration’s pause on natural gas export approvals.
With her announcement, McMorris Rodgers joins a growing list of Republican committee chairs who have chosen not to run for reelection ahead of what probably will be a contentious effort by Republicans to hold on to the House. Financial Services Committee Chairman Patrick T. McHenry (R-N.C.) and Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-Tex.) both announced last year that they will not return to the House in 2025.
McMorris Rodgers is also the eighth Republican member of the Energy and Commerce Committee to decide not to seek reelection this year.
In her statement, McMorris Rodgers thanked her husband, Brian, and their three children for their support during her years in Congress. When she gave birth to her first son, Cole, in April 2007, McMorris Rodgers became the first member of Congress in more than a decade to give birth while in office.
McMorris Rodgers has said that Cole, who was born with Down syndrome, inspired her fight for people living with disabilities. She was one of the main proponents of 2014’s ABLE Act, which lets people living with disabilities open tax-deferred savings accounts.
The Washington congresswoman has represented the state’s 5th district since 2005. The district, which includes Spokane, the state’s second-largest city, has largely supported Republicans in recent years, last electing a Democrat, then-speaker Thomas Foley, to the House in 1992. In 2020, former president Donald Trump received 53 percent of the vote in the district.
While more moderate than many of her House colleagues, McMorris Rodgers has supported the former president, including his 2017 decision to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement. At the time, McMorris Rodgers — who was then the ranking Republican on the Energy panel — said that while “we all want to protect our environment and ensure we leave a better community for the next generation,” the Paris agreement was created “without the approval of the American people.”
In 2021, after Trump lost the 2020 election, McMorris Rodgers told the Spokesman-Review that she planned to object to the results of the election in the House. That, however, changed after the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. At the time, McMorris Rodgers said the attack on the Capitol by a mob of the former president’s supporters was “unlawful and unacceptable” and that she would uphold the electoral college results.