House Commerce Committee Chairman Announces Retirement

July 7, 2008 - 7:25 PM

( - House Commerce Committee Chairman Thomas Bliley (R-VA) announced his retirement from Congress on Wednesday. Representative Bliley has served in the House since 1980.

Insiders say that, because of three-term rotation rules established when Republicans assumed control of the House in 1995, Bliley, if he stayed, would have to give up chairmanship of the House Commerce Committee, a post he's held since 1995.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, in a statement released Tuesday, expressed sadness at Bliley's decision to retire from Congress.

"I am very sorry to hear that my colleague and friend Tom Bliley has decided against returning to Congress next year. Over the years, I have been very fortunate to work closely with Chairman Bliley, and to serve on his committee. He is a man who has always conducted himself with fairness and dignity, and his presence in the chamber will be greatly missed.

"Chairman Bliley has made many lasting contributions to his district, to this legislative body, and to the nation. I wish him all the best on his retirement," Hastert said.

Bliley is the 23rd Republican who has decided against returning to the House next year. Seven Democrats also have announced their retirements. Analysts say Bliley's Virginia district, which includes Richmond and its suburbs, is solidly Republican and is expected to remain in GOP hands.

His congressional voting record in 1998, according to the Almanac of American Politics, received 100 percent approval from the American Conservative Union (ACU), 93 percent from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and 50 percent from the National Taxpayers Union (NTU).