House Ways and Means Committee Chair To Retire
Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) on Monday announced that he will not seek re-election in November, when term limits established by House Republicans will end his tenure as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Lochhead, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/7). Thomas will have served as chair of the committee, which oversees legislation related to Medicare and other issues, for six years and will have served in Congress for 28 years (Simon/Malcolm, Los Angeles Times, 3/7).
At a press briefing in California, Thomas said that he plans to move forward with significant legislation on health care and other issues until his retirement (Wall Street Journal, 3/7). Thomas "has been a dominant force on tax and health care policy during the current Bush administration," CQ Today reports (Ota, CQ Today, 3/6).
According to the New York Times, "Nowhere was his legislative power more apparent than on the 2003 overhaul of Medicare," which "offered the nation's retirees and disabled a long-promised prescription drug benefit and created a sweeping new role for private health plans in the government insurance program" (Toner, New York Times, 3/7).
Thomas "played a key role" in the passage of the Medicare law, USA Today reports (Kiely/Wolf, USA Today, 3/7).
According to the Los Angeles Times, Thomas' retirement will leave President Bush "without a valuable political strategist in his efforts to make tax cuts permanent and enact further changes to Medicare" (Los Angeles Times, 3/7).
Bush said, "As chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, he helped pass legislation that has brought about strong job creation and economic growth, improved health care for people of all ages, and ensured that America continues to benefit from free and fair trade" (Watts, Dow Jones, 3/6).