Watts Denies CBS Report that He's Leaving Congress

July 7, 2008 - 8:25 PM

(CNSNews.com) - Congressman JC Watts (R-OK) Wednesday denied a CBS news report that he is "calling it quits from Congress." Watts' office called the report "erroneous."

CBS anchor Bryant Gumbel reported on Wednesday morning's The Early Show that Watts, "the forth highest-ranking Republican in the House, privately informed the House Speaker yesterday that he will step down at the end of his term which ends in January."

The program aired a similar report later in the broadcast, again stating that "CBS News has learned that Oklahoma Congressman J.C. Watts is calling it quits."

Watts' office issued a statement denying the report, but stopped short of saying whether he will seek reelection to another term, an announcement Watts has traditionally made after the New Year.

"Any news reports that I am resigning the Congress or leaving my post as Chairman of the House Republican Conference are false," Watts said. "I intend to finish my two-year term as Conference Chairman."

"As I do every two years, I will announce my plans after the first of the year as to whether I will seek reelection as representative of the 4th Congressional District in Oklahoma."

A spokesman for House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) could not immediately be reached for comment.

A source in Watts' office called the report "false" and told CNSNews.com that staff members first heard of the issue Wednesday morning.

Watts used the opportunity to reiterate the GOP's agenda as it returns for the second session in January.

"I have a full agenda that includes protecting the Social Security Trust Fund, providing tax relief to hard working Americans, and helping to ensure that our strong economy touches every community across America," Watts said. "I expect to work with my colleagues at the Leadership table and in the Congress to complete this vital agenda."