Representative David Dreier (R., Calif.) has just announced that he will retire at the end of this term. As chairman of the all-powerful Rules Committee and a member of the Republican old guard, Dreier’s departure will undoubtedly represent a big loss of institutional memory for House Republicans.
Here, a transcript of Dreier’s floor speech announcing the decision:
“Mr. Speaker, I have chosen to leave Congress at the end of this term. I take the unusual step of announcing this from the floor of Congress for two reasons. First, this is where my fellow Californians sent me to represent them. Second, I am a proud institutionalist, and I believe that this institution is as great as it has ever been.
“My decision has been a deliberative one. Three years ago I contemplated leaving at the end of the previous Congress, but I ultimately chose to seek reelection for the sake of pursuing four key objectives: (1) to reverse the very dangerous 82% increase in non-defense discretionary spending that we had in the previous two Congresses; (2) to finally pass the job-creating free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea; (3) to enhance our national security by working to strengthen the legislatures of new and reemerging democracies across the globe through the bipartisan House Democracy Partnership; and (4) to ensure, through the Rules Committee, that both Democrats and Republicans have the opportunity to offer their solutions by proposing amendments on the House floor.
“Mr. Speaker, I have been honored to play a part in the effort to accomplish these four goals. Acting in a bipartisan way, we have fundamentally altered the federal spending process, focusing on fiscal discipline rather than profligacy. We not only passed all three pending free trade agreements. We did so with the largest bipartisan support of any trade measure in years. The 17 partner countries of the House Democracy Partnership are making important strides, and the advent of the Arab Spring has brought about the greatest opportunity in more than a generation for democracy throughout the Arab world. Finally, both Democrats and Republicans can offer their ideas on the House floor.
“This work is far from over, and I intend to spend this year working toward greater bipartisan progress. Our economy and our job market remain in peril, and the effort to rein in the deficit has only just begun. Having cleared out the backlog of trade agreements, we must embark on a renewed trade liberalization agenda to revitalize the worldwide marketplace. The endeavor to ensure that American workers and entrepreneurs are able to grow our economy and increase our standard of living is an ongoing one. It is an endeavor that I look forward to pursuing as vigorously outside of Congress as I have here.
“I have always believed that Republicans and Democrats alike serve the American people best when we find ways to build bipartisan consensus. The framers of our constitution envisioned Congress as a forum for a great clash of ideas. We all have different, sometimes radically different, views of how to build a better and stronger America. I have always believed that our efforts must be rooted in our pursuit of a free economy, personal freedom, limited government, and a strong national defense. Others may take a different view. These differences demand a passionate debate, but that debate must ultimately arrive at consensus.
“As I prepare to follow the Madisonian directive that Members of Congress should one day leave office to live under the laws they passed, there are many whom I would like to thank. Family and friends, volunteers and supporters, and of course the voters who first gave me my party’s nomination in 1978 when I was 25 and lived in the Phillips Hall dormitory at my alma mater, Claremont McKenna College.
“I would also like to thank the dedicated public servants in my offices in California and Washington, who have so ably worked in behalf of the people I’ve been privileged to represent.”