Hensarling Rules Out Bid for U.S. House Leadership Post

U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas, who did not immediately rule out a bid for U.S. House speaker after John Boehner announced he was leaving, will not run for a leadership position.

U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas.
U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas, is not running for U.S. House speaker or any other House leadership position. 

Hensarling did not immediately rule out a run for speaker on Friday, hours after Boehner announced he would leave Congress. But House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is the likely successor to the gavel. 

"After prayerful consideration, Chairman Hensarling is not a candidate for a leadership position," a spokeswoman said in an emailed statement on Monday. "He will support Chairman [Tom] Price for Majority Leader." Price, R-Ga., chairs the House Committee on the Budget.

Hensarling's name immediately surfaced as a contender to lead the GOP conference. He is a strong fundraiser, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and a strong proponent of the free market values espoused by his political mentor, former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas. 

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But at age 58, Hensarling gave no sense of urgency over the course of the Boehner retirement fallout, while McCarthy spent the weekend consolidating his support.

Many Capitol Hill and Texas political observers believe Hensarling is patiently waiting for the right time to make a play as a national leader. In the meantime, Hensarling  is exercising his power as a committee chairman, leading the effort to end the U.S. Export-Import Bank. 

The Hensarling announcement leaves U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, as the only Texan postured to make a leadership bid. On Friday, a run for House majority leader was a possibility, but that is no longer a serious consideration. Instead, the focus is on Sessions as a possible House majority whip, the third-ranking position in the Republican conference and the lead vote-counter on the House floor.