The chair of the main House committee overseeing the federal workplace, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has announced he won’t seek reelection in 2018.
After taking over as chairman January 2015, Chaffetz pressed the Obama administration on issues including the breaches of OPM data revealed in that year, and controversies at the IRS, Secret Service, EPA and other agencies. During that time he sometimes clashed with the committee’s Democratic side, in particular over investigations into politically charged issues such as the attack on the U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya; Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server; and the administration’s responsiveness to his investigations.
However, overall he has set a less combative tone than did his predecessor, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.–for example by working with Democrats to craft a postal reform plan that recently passed the committee with bipartisan support.
Chaffetz said in announcing his decision that “Since late 2003 I have been fully engaged with politics as a campaign manager, a chief of staff, a candidate and as a Member of Congress. I have long advocated public service should be for a limited time and not a lifetime or full career. Many of you have heard me advocate, “Get in, serve, and get out.” After more than 1,500 nights away from my home, it is time. I may run again for public office, but not in 2018.”
Chaffetz said he continues to have the confidence of House leadership to remain chair of the committee through next year. He has laid out an agenda for the first two years of the Trump administration focusing on continued oversight of agencies; support for whistleblowers; open government; limited rule-making; scrutiny of the union role in the federal workplace; and addressing poor performance and misconduct by employees.
On benefits, he has raised the prospect of ending the defined benefit retirement annuity for those newly hired after an unspecified future date, potentially coupled with larger government contributions toward their TSP accounts. But meanwhile he has been open to increasing pay in high-demand occupations such as cybersecurity. No firm progress on either of those ideas has been made so far in the present Congress.