WASHINGTON – Louisiana Rep. Jim McCrery, senior Republican on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, told associates Friday he intends to retire rather than seek re-election in 2008.
McCrery, 58, joins 17 other Republicans who are headed into voluntary retirement as the party struggles to adjust to its return to minority status in the 2006 elections.
Officials disclosed McCrery's decision on condition of anonymity, not wanting to pre-empt a formal statement.
A statement prepared for release said that McCrery reached his decision out of disappointment that Republicans no longer controlled the House as well as a desire to spend more time with his children.
McCrery had been well-positioned to take over as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in January if the GOP had held control in last year's elections.
"The chairmanship would have allowed me to play a leading role in addressing some of the biggest long-term problems facing our country," the statement said.
He said he had sought to work harmoniously with Rep. Charles Rangel, the New York Democrat who chairs the panel, and that the two have had some success in drafting bipartisan trade legislation.
"But on tax reform, Medicare and health care reform, and Social Security Reform, our best efforts have come to naught," the statement said.
"So, given that disappointment and my desire to more fully enjoy the last few years my boys will be at home, I will not seek re-election to the Congress in 2008."
McCrery has been a consistent supporter of President Bush's tax cuts. He also played a behind-the-scenes role in trying to find a bipartisan plan to shore up the Social Security system after Bush's original plan ran into a stone wall of opposition from Democrats.