Earlier today Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), who has been Chair of the House Judiciary Committee and a strong proponent for patent reform, announced that he would be leaving Congress at the end of his current term and not standing for reelection in 2018.
In a letter to friends published on his official Congressional website, Goodlatte explained that ever two years he sits down with his wife — Maryellen — to discuss the future and decide whether to run for reelection. “When we discussed the 2018 election, the conversation ended a little differently than in past years,” Goodlatte explained. “After much contemplation and prayer, we decided it was the right time for me to step aside and let someone else serve the Sixth District. I will not seek re-election. 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 explained in the letter that although he will not seek reelection in 2018, his work in Congress is not yet complete. Goodlatte specifically mentioned his continued desire to work on immigration reform, simplifying the tax code in order to stimulate job growth, enacting criminal justice reform, repealing Obamacare, and continuing to advance the freedoms and liberties enshrined in the Constitution.
Notably, Goodlatte did not mention patent reform, copyright reform, trade or intellectual property issues. Perhaps that can be expected in an announcement made for widespread consumption, but Chairman Goodlatte has continued to over the years list patent reform among his top priorities.
While some will no doubt be surprised to learn that Goodlatte is stepping down, and others will likely associate his decision to step down to Democrat victories in Virginia and New Jersey on Tuesday evening, those who have been watching Goodlatte and his District cannot be particularly shocked by this announcement. As Goodlatte himself mentioned in his announcement letter, his time as Chairman of the prestigious Judiciary Committee is ending at the end of the 115th Congress, which had caused some speculation for months that he might take this opportunity to exit. Further, rumors on a whisper level around Washington, DC and in Virginia had been mounting in recent months given the fact that Goodlatte has slowed his campaign fundraising efforts, and because he had largely been viewed as uncharacteristically abandoning his District, choosing to send Staffers to his District for meetings and events rather than appear himself.
With Goodlatte exiting the fate of further patent reform efforts in the House will largely depend upon who ultimately is tapped to wield the Chair’s gavel. Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) can be expected to make an internal push for the gavel, but his handling of the House Oversight Committee during the Obama Administration rubbed many Republicans the wrong way, and he almost lost his reelection campaign in 2016 to retired Marine Colonel Doug Applegate, ultimately prevailing by only 1,600 votes. Notwithstanding, should Issa become the next Chair of the House Judiciary Committee patent reform would almost certainly proceed at a break-neck pace in the House.