Representative Mac Thornberry announced Monday that this would be his last term in office, making him the sixth House Republican from the Texas delegation. In a statement, Thornberry said he believed "it was a time for a change."
The congressman has been representing the state's 13th district near the panhandle since 1995, and was re-elected with more than 80 percent of the vote in 2018.
"With over a year to go, I will continue to represent the people of the 13th District to the best of my ability. Our nation faces many difficult challenges, and none of us can relax our efforts to meet and overcome them, whether at home or around the world," Thornberry said in a released statement.
His announcement brings the count of GOP House members not returning for another term to 19. A total of 13 have had "pure retirements," including Thornberry, while three have resigned and four have announced they'd be seeking other office in 2020. Chris Collins, an embattled congressman from Upstate New York,from the House on Monday.
By comparison, there are four House Democrats nationwide who have announced they will retire or seek another office in 2020, not counting the two Democratic members of the House who are running for president.
Retiring lawmakers have given different reasons for not seeking re-election, ranging from family commitments to chairmanship limits. Thornberry himself has reached his limit on the House Armed Services Committee, where he served two terms as chairman before Democrats won the House last year. He was the first Texan to hold the position.
Thornberry is third GOP House member from the Armed Services committee to announce retirement, joining Mike Conaway of Texas and Rob Bishop of Utah.
As the top Republican member of the committee, Thornberry has been a fierce advocate for increased military spending and helped secure a larger defense budget under President Trump. He has also criticized how the Trump administration and Democrats in the House are handling national security issues.
Thornberry votedMr. Trump's emergency declaration at the border, but said he did not support repurposing military money to build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico with CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Major Garrett for "The Takeout" podcast.
"I am not for taking away money from that effort to fund anything else," Thornberry said.
When Mr. Trump, Thornberry and Adam Smith, the Democratic chairman of the Armed Services committee, released a statement criticizing plans to remove U.S. forces from Syria.
"We are concerned that it would be a strategic error to remove U.S. forces precipitously from Syria without regard to the impact it might have on our ability to consolidate our military gains against ISIS, ensure the safety of our partners, including the Kurds and other Syrian Democratic Forces, and uphold regional stability against malign actors such as Russia and Iran," they wrote.
Democrats have sounded optimistic about flipping Texas in 2020 despite the state's Republican lean. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has been touting the "Texodus," or the string of GOP House members from Texas retiring, as a sign that the state is becoming more competitive.
Of the six retirees from Texas, Representatives Will Hurd, Kenny Marchant and Pete Olson each won by less than 5 percent in 2018. Hurd, who won re-election by just over 925 votes, said at the Texas Tribune Festival over the weekend, "Texas is a jump-ball. Texas is purple."
Texas Democratic Party Executive Director Manny Garcia said in a statement, "A quarter of the Texas House Republican Delegation has now retired— a staggering amount for the largest Republican delegation in Texas."
"Texas is the biggest battleground state. Republicans know it and Texas Democrats damn sure know it."
However, Thornberry's district has been historically Republican in presidential election years. President Barack Obama won just over 18 percent of the district in 2012, and Hillary Clinton won just 17 percent in 2016. Texas itself hasn't been won by a Democratic presidential candidate since 1976.
One of the longest-serving representatives from Texas, Thornberry previously served in the State Department during President Ronald Reagan's administration. He began his Congressional career by defeating Democrat incumbent Bill Sarpalius by 11 points in 1994.
"When I first announced that I was running for Congress on Veterans' Day 1993, I quoted the great minister, Dr. Peter Marshall, who said, 'A different world cannot be built by indifferent people,'" he said in a statement. "In January 2021, I will no longer have the honor of representing the people of the 13th District of Texas, but I will never be indifferent to the responsibility each of us has to serve and protect our beloved nation."
Correction: An earlier version of this story said Congressman Tim Ryan, an Ohio Democrat, has not yet indicated whether he will run for re-election if his presidential campaign is unsuccessful. He is running for his House seat and the presidency simultaneously.