Congress

Rep. Patrick McHenry, who served as temporary speaker, will not seek re-election

Sahil Kapur
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US Representative Patrick McHenry (R-NC) speaks to members of the media outside the office of US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on October 3, 2023. 
Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., announced Tuesday that he won't seek re-election in 2024, a shocking move to many of his colleagues that will further thin the ranks of Republican institutionalists in Congress.

He plans to finish out his two-year term, he said in a statement, writing on X: "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."

McHenry, 48, became the chair of the powerful House Financial Services Committee at the beginning of the year. He gained national attention during his three-week stint in October as House Speaker pro tempore after Republicans ousted Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., from the position.

Elected in 2004, McHenry began his congressional career as a partisan rabble-rouser. Over time, he transformed into an ally of Republican leadership and secured the position of chief deputy whip under two speakers.

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Despite his solidly conservative positions and voting record, McHenry is seen on Capitol Hill as a pragmatist and widely respected in both parties. He sought to be a voice of reason earlier this year in urging Republicans not to force a default on the debt. During the speaker battle, McHenry was cited by Democratic leaders as the sort of GOP lawmaker who they trust enough to work with. But he emphatically rejected overtures to consider the position.

McHenry's impending departure is the latest move in a yearslong exodus among moderate and institutionalist Republicans from Capitol Hill, a trend that took hold in the Barack Obama presidency and accelerated in the era of Donald Trump. With Trump leading the GOP primary polls for his presidential comeback bid, that trend shows no sign of slowing down.

"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," McHenry said in his statement Tuesday. "Those concerns are exaggerated."

"The Republican said I've seen a lot of change over twenty years," he continued. "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."