Rep. Gregg Harper, chairman of the House Administration Committee, won't run for reelection, he announced Thursday.
Harper, 61, has been in Congress since 2009 representing Jackson, Miss., and the surrounding area. In a statement, the five-term congressman said he has been thinking about when he would step down for nearly two years and made the final decision over the holiday break.
“After spending time over Christmas and New Year’s with my family, we made the very difficult decision to say that 10 years will be long enough,” Harper said.
“I never intended for this to be a career, and it will soon be time for another conservative citizen legislator to represent us. I will work hard over the final 12 months of my term this year, but I will not seek re-election for a sixth term.”
Harper had been floated as a potential replacement for Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), amid speculation that he will soon retire. Harper didn't say what he plans to do after he leaves Capitol Hill beyond spending more time in Mississippi with his family and working "on policy issues that matter."
Harper overwhelmingly won his reelection in 2016 and the district is heavily favored toward Republicans.
Harper has led the House Administration Committee since January 2017, a panel that has been thrust into the spotlight as Congress grapples with sexual harassment scandals that have rocked the institution in recent months.
Harper’s committee is the primary House panel tasked with overseeing sexual harassment and reporting policies in the lower chamber, which most lawmakers agree are in dire need of updating since they were first enacted in the mid-1990s.
The committee is expected to focus heavily in the coming months on advancing legislation that would make the reporting process more friendly to victims and less secretive.
Pennsylvania Rep. Bob Brady, the top Democrat on the House Administration Committee, had nothing but praise for Harper in a statement, calling him a “true gentleman.”
“He has sought bipartisanship where it has been possible, he has managed the House in a truly professional manner and he has always focused on the people of Mississippi’s Third District,” Brady said. “His polite, but results focused, approach has made this institution a better place.”
Harper’s impending exit makes him the seventh Republican committee chairman to announce plans to retire or leave Congress early. House Transportation Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) announced his retirement earlier this week.
House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling and House Science Chairman Lamar Smith, both from Texas, and House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte from Virginia will also step down after this term.
Rep. Diane Black announced in late December she was stepping down as House Budget chairman to focus on her run for governor of Tennessee. And former Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), then chairman of the House Oversight Committee, abruptly retired last summer.