House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte Will Not Seek Re-Election

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. listens to the testimony of Attorney General Eric Holder, during the committee's hearing on the oversight of the Justice Department, Tuesday, April 8, 2014, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, will not seek re-election in 2018, he announced Thursday, ending a 13-term run representing Virginia’s solid-red Sixth Congressional District.

Goodlatte made his decision known via Twitter, thanking his constituents, and in a longer statement posted on his website:

“With my time as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee ending in December 2018, this is a natural stepping-off point and an opportunity to begin a new chapter of my career and spend more time with my family, particularly my granddaughters,” Goodlatte wrote, adding:

While I’m not running for re-election, my work in the 115th Congress is far from done. There is much that I hope we can accomplish in the next year, including: bolstering enforcement of our immigration laws and reforming the legal immigration system, simplifying the tax code in order to stimulate job growth and benefit families in the Sixth District, enacting criminal justice reform, repealing Obamacare, advancing protections of the freedoms and liberties enshrined in our Constitution, and, of course, continuing first-class constituent service for the citizens of the Sixth District. I look forward to working with the House Leadership, the Senate, and President Trump in bringing real conservative change to our country.

A reliable conservative vote and a former immigration lawyer, Goodlatte took the reins at the powerful Judiciary Committee in 2013. Immigration and Border Security, being one of the Judiciary Committee’s subcommittees, had been the most prominent issue dealt with there at the time. He has been a consistent border security hawk and ally of President Donald Trump’s immigration agenda.

In perhaps his most important move as chairman, Goodlatte made known that 2013’s so-called “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill would have a tough time in his committee, contributing to the political pressure that prevented the bill from passing the Senate and thereby stopping the “path to citizenship” that would potentially have added tens of millions of Democratic voters to the rolls.

Goodlatte later warned against the Obama administration’s encouragement of the so-called “unaccompanied minor” surge in these pages, working in the House to oppose President Barack Obama’s continual attempts at executive amnesty.

Despite this admirably pro-American immigration record, Goodlatte, at times, has expressed some willingness to consider cheap-labor “guest worker” programs and entertained the notion of a “comprehensive” immigration bargain.

Other major issues during Goodlatte’s tenure as judiciary chairman included human trafficking legislation, government wiretapping authorization, and efforts to combat so-called “overcriminalization” from administrative regulation.

With Goodlatte’s departure, the stakes are raised for 2018’s GOP primary in his district. With a Cook Partisan Voting Index of R+13, VA-6 is a prime target for solid conservatives looking to carry on Goodlatte’s legacy.


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