- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 29, 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. David Dreier, the powerful chairman of the House Rules Committee, announced on the House floor Wednesday that he will not seek another term. He becomes the latest lawmaker to decide to retire because of redistricting that complicated his re-election plans.

Mr. Dreier’s retirement would end a three-decade-long career representing his Los Angeles County district that began in 1980, the year Ronald Reagan entered the White House.

Mr. Dreier, now 59, was a 28-year-old administrator at Claremont McKenna College when he first entered the House.

A strong advocate of free-market economics, Mr. Dreier called himself a “proud institutionalist” and said Congress is as great as it has ever been.

Redistricting in California has made races tough for several incumbents, and Mr. Dreier’s decision was not unexpected. Three other longtime Republican lawmakers — Reps. Jerry Lewis, Wally Herger and Elton Gallegly — have announced plans to retire.

A total of 21 Democrats and 16 Republicans in the House have announced they would retire or seek another office.

Mr. Dreier said he had considered leaving three years ago but chose to return to focus on cutting spending, getting free-trade bills passed and enhancing national security.

He urged his fellow lawmakers to work to find ways to build bipartisan consensus.

“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,” Mr. Dreier said. “Others may take a different view. These differences demand a passionate debate, but that debate must ultimately arrive at consensus.”

Mr. Dreier took over as head of the Rules Committee, which determines how bills will be handled on the House floor, in 1999, and over the next several years he was a top adviser to then-Speaker Dennis Hastert. He lost his chairmanship when the Democrats won control of the House in 2006, but he returned to the position when Republicans regained the majority in 2010.

He has been one of the GOP’s leading advocates of free-trade agreements.

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