Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., a senior member of the Financial Services Committee, said Monday that he would retire from Congress at the end of the term, raising fresh questions about who will take over as leader of the banking panel next year.

Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, chairman of the committee, said in the fall that he would leave Congress at the end of 2018, closing out his six years with the gavel. It's not yet clear who will take his place.

With Hensarling "already set to retire, there will be a race to fill his seat atop the committee and Rep. Royce was thought to be in the running," Isaac Boltansky, an analyst at Compass Point Research & Trading, wrote in a note to clients on Tuesday.

In the wake of Royce's announcement, the field will narrow to several other GOP contenders, including Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C.

Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif.
As a senior member of the Financial Services Committee, Rep. Royce was thought to be a top contender to take over the panel next year, before announcing his decision to retire. Bloomberg News

Royce, who has served in Congress since 1993, has worked on numerous bills significant to the banking industry, on everything from anti-money-laundering issues to housing finance to community banking.

Paul Merski, executive vice president of congressional relations and strategy at the Independent Community Bankers of America, noted that Royce “was always a reliable vote for the community banking sector on many, many issues, most recently in pushing for needed reforms on [Bank Secrecy Act] and money laundering rules.”

Royce has also proven to be a strong backer for credit unions, advancing many industry bills, including legislation to raise the industry's member business lending cap from 12.25 to 27.5% of total assets.

"Although we differed on issues of credit union regulation and oversight," Royce "always took time to listen to the concerns of bankers in his district," said Jeff Sigmund, a spokesman for the American Bankers Association.