High-profile Republicans leave amid House GOP disarray.

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House Republicans were taken aback by some of their colleagues’ recent high-profile retirement announcements, which included influential committee chairs and rising GOP stars.

However, given the current state of events in the House, they were not surprised.
“They have joined up to accomplish serious things. And we’re not doing significant things,” said Colorado Rep. Ken Buck, a conservative who is retiring after defying his party on numerous critical issues.

Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska, a moderate who holds a key swing seat, blamed the defection on his party’s inability to rule effectively.

“When you’re divided in your own conference, the joy of the job is harder,” Bacon was quoted as saying by CNN. “When you have folks on your own team with their knives out, it makes it less enjoyable.”
Rep. Carlos Gimenez of Florida, a supporter of deposed former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, stated that this is not how he or many of his colleagues envisaged life in the majority, saying, “I thought some of our members would be smarter.”

“A lot of us are frustrated with what’s going on, and that’s just being flat-out honest,” he was quoted as saying by CNN. “That’s silly. And it’s been shown to be dumb. Insanity is defined as “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”
As the 118th Congress has been plagued by severe dysfunction and bitter conflicts within the GOP, a number of Republicans, notably those in the so-called governing wing, are leaving. So far, 23 GOP legislators, including five committee chairs, have decided not to run for reelection or resigned early, citing personal reasons or a desire for higher office.

High-profile Republicans leave amid House GOP disarray.

Still, the caliber and timing of some of the retirements have prompted concerns, particularly those who are handing over prized committee gavels that some have worked their whole careers to obtain.

Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington is not even term-limited in her plum position, and China Select Committee Chair Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, a 39-year-old who was once regarded as the party’s future, recently announced his resignation from Congress after receiving intense criticism for voting against impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Eight Republicans are retiring from the Energy and Commerce Committee, which is a highly sought-after position.

“Those are big losses for us,” said Indiana Rep. Greg Pence, who is one of the panel members who has hung up his voting card. “It’s disturbing. Especially for institutional knowledge. So that is a big deal.

The wave of retirements is upsetting some Republicans who have chosen to stay, raising concerns about a potential brain drain as more senior members decide to go and take their wealth of institutional knowledge with them.

“You have this panic and anxiety, like, ‘OK, who’s going to step up? Is this a common occurrence that happens every few years, or is it abnormal?”, remarked Texas Representative August Pfluger. “So, yeah, I’m very worried about it.”

Others, however, claimed the turnover is quite natural, especially since the House GOP has self-imposed time limitations for chairs, which they argue allows them to bring new blood into the fold. Democrats have also had their fair share of retirements this cycle, as they have been pushed to the minority. Furthermore, the Republicans who have called it quits thus far do not come from competitive districts, implying that their seats are likely secure.

“Look, it hasn’t been pleasant, there’s no question about that,” Oklahoma veteran Rep. Tom Cole said of the last year. “But we have a lot of great young members, and I’ve looked at a lot of the recruits coming in, and I’m not too worried.”

High-profile Republicans leave amid House GOP disarray.

And Freedom Caucus Chairman Bob Good, whose outspoken demeanor is being blamed for some of the instability in the House, appeared to welcome the exits of some of his colleagues.

“Brain drain?” Why don’t you survey the country to discover whether there’s any brain drain in Congress? Congress has a 20 percent approval rating. “The majority of what we do to the country is bad,” Good told CNN. “I believe retirements are a fantastic thing… I don’t have any issues. “We probably need a few more retirements.”

McCarthy, who resigned at the end of last year, claimed that was maybe the goal of hardliners like Good and Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, who voted to remove him.

“It is awful because you consider the brain trust you are losing. I blame many of the ‘crazy eights’ led by Gaetz. “They want to make this place dysfunctional in order to wear people out,” McCarthy told reporters in the Capitol recently. “It’s extremely sad…” It makes it more difficult to get people to run in the existing environment.”

House Republicans question if it’s worth it.

This session of Congress has already seen a historic 15-ballot race for speaker, the unprecedented removal of a speaker, a rare expulsion of a member, and a number of embarrassing, failed floor votes as Republican leadership has struggled to maintain its razor-thin majority, all of which have contributed to members’ fatigue.

“If you’re the chairman of a committee and you’re attempting to accomplish difficult legislative job, you become frustrated. “It’s just a number of things piling up,” said House Science Committee Chair Frank Lucas in response to the retirements.

Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, even mentioned the impasse in his recent retirement announcement, stating, “Our country – and our Congress – is broken beyond most means of repair.”

Rep. Debbie Lesko of Arizona, who announced her retirement weeks after McCarthy was ousted as speaker, has also cited intransigence in Washington as a cause.

“You give up your family, sacrifice being without your family all the time, in exchange for thinking we’re really going to accomplish something and get something done,” Lesko was quoted as saying by CNN. “And when that doesn’t happen, you start thinking, ‘Well, is it worth it?'”

At times, Republican infighting has been so vicious that it has almost resulted in physical assaults. Republicans have recently struggled to pass fundamental procedural votes, known as rules.

High-profile Republicans leave amid House GOP disarray.

“It is very dysfunctional right now,” said Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, who co-chairs the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus. “You have tight margins and divided chambers, and you have a Rules Committee that’s been very dysfunctional.”

Rep. Steve Womack of Arkansas said, “We are fragmented. There is a lot of angst. And so, sure, I believe we’re chipping away at some of the more institutional individuals here.”

Underneath the confusion, there is rising concern about the House GOP’s chances of maintaining its majority in November, which was exacerbated by Republicans losing a special election in New York, a vital battleground, last week.

We have a three-vote majority. And, you know, some of our majority-maker seats are tougher with (former President Donald) Trump, but there are other places where it works,” said North Dakota Rep. Kelly Armstrong, who is leaving Congress to run for governor. “It’s gonna be a nail-biter, and we should all be ready for it.”

Meanwhile, Republicans are privately concerned as Trump moves closer to the GOP presidential nomination and they are pressured to follow suit.

When asked about the retirements, one Republican congressman told CNN, “Some of them say, ‘I don’t want to endorse him, I don’t want to serve under him.'” “That’s something else that is weighing in a lot of the private conversations I’m having.”

Some Republicans are concerned that repeated reshuffling will make committees less productive and risk moving power to lobbyists and outside groups who will fill the void.

“I’m in my first term, and if reelected, I’ll be among the most senior members of my delegation,” said freshman Rep. Erin Houchin from Indiana. “We have had conversations about restoring or maintaining the institutional knowledge that we know is leaving and trying to prepare for that as we are entering into a new era of the House of Representatives.”

And several of the departing Republicans, such as Financial Services Committee Chair Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, are viewed as dealmakers committed to good governance, raising concerns about who will remain in Congress and who will replace them.

“There’s absolutely concern over a loss of knowledge, a loss of seniority, and, in some cases, a loss of civility,” said Tennessee Representative Chuck Fleischmann. “We don’t know whom we’re going to get and what the new Congress is going to look like.”


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