Washington, D.C. – December 5, 2023
In an unexpected turn of events, Representative Patrick McHenry, a prominent figure in the Republican Party, declared on Tuesday that he will not seek re-election in 2024. The announcement sent shockwaves through Capitol Hill, further depleting the ranks of Republican institutionalists in Congress.
McHenry, 48, who currently chairs the influential House Financial Services Committee, had served as the House speaker pro tempore for a noteworthy three weeks earlier this year. This temporary appointment came after the conservatives ousted Rep. Kevin McCarthy from the top House position.
In his official statement shared on Tuesday, McHenry expressed his intention to complete his two-year term, stating, “I believe there is a season for everything, and—for me—this season has come to an end. I look forward to what comes next for my family and me.”
The North Carolina representative, elected in 2004, embarked on his congressional career as a partisan advocate. However, over the years, he evolved into a key ally of Republican leadership, eventually securing the role of chief deputy whip under two different speakers.
Despite maintaining solidly conservative positions and voting records, McHenry earned a reputation on Capitol Hill as a pragmatist, commanding respect from both sides of the aisle. Earlier this year, he played a pivotal role during the three weeks in October when he assumed the role of House Speaker pro tempore. Democratic leaders pointed to McHenry as a trustworthy GOP lawmaker, highlighting his willingness to collaborate across party lines, particularly during the debt ceiling debate.
The impending departure of McHenry adds to the growing trend of moderate and institutionalist Republicans exiting Capitol Hill, a phenomenon that gained momentum during the Barack Obama presidency and accelerated during the era of Donald Trump. With Trump leading the GOP primary polls for a potential presidential comeback bid, this trend seems unabated.
In response to concerns about the future of the institution due to departures like his, McHenry commented, “There has been a great deal of handwringing and ink spilled about the future of this institution because some—like me—have decided to leave. Those concerns are exaggerated.”
He further emphasized, “I’ve seen a lot of change over twenty years. I truly feel this institution is on the verge of the next great turn. Evolutions are often lumpy and disjointed, but at each stage, new leaders emerge. There are many smart and capable members who remain, and others are on their way. I’m confident the House is in good hands.”
The announcement marks a significant development in the political landscape, leaving both Republicans and Democrats to contemplate the implications of McHenry’s decision on the future dynamics of Congress.