House Budget Chair to Step Down

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- U.S. Rep. Diane Black announced Wednesday that she is stepping down as House Budget Committee chairwoman, but will remain in Congress as she runs for governor of Tennessee.

The Republican's decision follows passage of a wide-spanning tax reform law that she and her committee helped usher through the legislative process. She said she plans to leave the budget leadership post once a successor is chosen in the new year so she can focus more on the campaign.

Black pointed to her work with President Donald Trump on budgeting and tax reform. She noted that the new law eliminates fines for people who don't carry health insurance under former President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, and urged the Senate to "muster the nerve" to follow the House on efforts to dismantle Obama's signature law.

"Great challenges compel bold choices," Black wrote in a Fox News op-ed announcing her decision Wednesday. "I have pushed Congress to make those choices and now I hope to lead my state in the same manner. There is no time to waste."

Black was named interim Budget Committee chair in January when Trump nominated Rep. Tom Price of Georgia to become Health and Human Services secretary. She was first elected to the House in 2010.

Black is among five leading Republican candidates in 2018 vying to replace term-limited Republican Gov. Bill Haslam. The others are former state Sen. Mae Beavers, state House Speaker Beth Harwell and businessmen Randy Boyd and Bill Lee.

Black announced her candidacy in August.

Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean faces state House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh in the Democratic primary.

The primary election will take place in August 2018.