GOP House Majority In Grave Danger After Unexpected Exit

OPINION:  This article contains commentary which may reflect the author’s opinion

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), who declared his retirement earlier this year, has issued an update indicating that, rather than serving out his term, he will be leaving office in the upcoming weeks. The narrow Republican majority in the House, which has been eroding because of early retirements and the removal of Representative George Santos (R-NY), will once again be reduced by Gallagher’s untimely departure.

“After conversations with my family, I have made the decision to resign my position as a member of the House of Representatives for Wisconsin’s Eighth Congressional District, effective April 19, 2024,” Gallagher, who currently chairs the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, announced in a press release Friday.

“I’ve worked closely with House Republican leadership on this timeline and look forward to seeing Speaker Johnson appoint a new chair to carry out the important mission of the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party. My office will continue to operate and provide constituent services to the Eighth District for the remainder of the term,” the statement continued.

In response to strong criticism for voting against a motion to remove Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas from office, Gallagher declared his resignation in February. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), who cast the final vote after returning from a medical leave of absence, later supported the measure.

With the departure of the congressman from Wisconsin, there will be 217 Republicans and 213 Democrats in the chamber. This implies that Republicans could only afford one defector or absentee member in order to pass legislation, even if they vote along party lines.

Rep. George Santos (R-NY) was unusually removed from Congress, which reduced the already slim margin by one member. Santos has not been found guilty of any crimes, but he was removed due to accusations of corruption following a months-long campaign spearheaded by fellow Republicans in his home state.

Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY), a former congressman who returned to Washington after winning a special election earlier
this year, ultimately won the seat.

Before Gallagher’s statement, some Republicans had also declared early exits in addition to Santos’s expulsion. In contrast to Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), who resigned from office effective Wednesday, former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy chose to leave his position at the end of the year rather than serve out his full term.

Earlier this year, Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) similarly declared his early resignation to take a job offer from Youngstown State University.

The House will have a small majority in the interim as they must wait for special elections to fill the seats, despite the fact that all three districts have a strong Republican leaning. Johnson’s special election is scheduled for June, and McCarthy’s seat will be filled in May.

While Rep. Gallagher’s seat will remain unfilled until November, Buck’s seat will also be filled before the conclusion of the term.

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