(Reuters) – U.S. Republican Representative Buck McKeon of California, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said on Thursday he would not seek a 12th term this year.
Due to term limits on committee chairmanships, McKeon could not have led the armed services panel in the next Congress. He said at a news conference that his biggest motivation in retiring was that he did not want stay on the committee in a role that could be seen as second guessing his successor.
McKeon, 75, who campaigned strongly against military spending cuts, became chairman of the armed services committee in 2011 after Republicans reclaimed a majority in the House.
His district covers parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties and is home to Edwards Air Force Base, other military facilities and several major defense contractors.
"I'm not leaving the fight," McKeon said. "I will continue to speak for funding for our military, for the training that they need to give them the best chance to carry out their missions and return home safely."
McKeon's retirement is expected to set up a competitive race in California's 25th congressional district.
Before being elected to the House in 1992, McKeon was a member of the Santa Clarita, California, school board and city council.
Three Democratic House members – Jim Moran of Virginia, Bill Owens of New York and George Miller of California – have announced this week that they will not run for re-election.
(Writing and reporting by Bill Trott; Editing by Rosalind Russell)