Representative Spencer Bachus, the dean of Alabamaâs congressional delegation, will not seek re-election in 2014.
Mr. Bachus was the top Republican on the House Financial Services Committee, a post he held for six years until 2012, including a stint as the panelâs chairman in the 112th Congress. He came under fire from conservatives for helping Democrats craft the bank bailout in 2008, then he led House Republicans as they pushed back against the Obama administrationâs efforts to overhaul financial regulations after the 2008 financial crisis.
In a statement on Monday, Mr. Bachus, 65, said that his choice to leave was a family decision.
âIt has been the greatest privilege imaginable to serve as the representative of the people of Alabama in the United States House of Representatives,â he said. âIt is an honor that I never dreamed could have been possible for me and the words âthank youâ are far from adequate. But as Ecclesiastes 3 says, to everything there is a season, and I feel in my heart that now is the time for me to announce this decision and allow others to have the opportunity to serve.â
Though Mr. Bachus has stuck to a right-of-center agenda of small government and limited regulations in Congress, he also supported a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants as part of a broader effort to overhaul the matrix of immigration laws. Alabama has one of the strictest immigration laws in the country; some lawmakers there have argued that it would force undocumented immigrants in the state to âdeport themselves.â
Before he retires in December 2014, Mr. Bachus said he would like to see the government implement a âspending reduction plan that will put the federal government on a sensible and sustainable financial path going forward.â
Mr. Bachus was elected to his 11th term in 2012 with 71 percent of the vote, his smallest margin of victory since 1996, and the first time he had faced a Democratic challenger since 1998. A native of Birmingham, Mr. Bachus is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of Alabama law school. He served in the Alabama National Guard and owned a sawmill before entering Congress. Currently, he is the chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law, and the chairman emeritus of the Financial Services panel.
Shortly after Mr. Bachus became the ranking Republican on the Financial Services Committee, his inheritance of the chairmanship was endangered in 2008, when he worked with Democrats in crafting the governmentâs $700 Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP, known as the bank bailout. John A. Boehner of Ohio, then the minority leader, blocked Mr. Bachus from speaking for the G.O.P. during deliberations and replaced him with Roy Blount of Missouri to lead the Republican side of talks. The legislation passed, although Mr. Bachus called his vote for the bill against the will of his constituents a ânear-death experience.â After Republicans took control of the House in 2010, Mr. Bachusâs status as a prolific fundraiser for Republicans â” and support from the incoming majority leader, Eric Cantor of Virginia â” helped him to overcome a challenge for the committee gavel.
While he was chairman of the financial services panel, Mr. Bachus faced an ethics investigation after a â60 Minutesâ report alleged that he used insider information to make stock trades. Mr. Bachus bet on a market collapse in 2008, after receiving a briefing from Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. and other Bush administration officials. He denied wrongdoing and the Office of Congressional Ethics dropped its investigation in May 2012.
His decision to step down leaves an open seat in Alabamaâs Sixth Congressional District, which is rated one of the most conservative congressional districts in the country by the Cook Political Report. The district includes the predominantly white middle-class suburbs of Birmingham.