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House GOP Majority Shrinks as More Republicans Call It Quits

The strife and division seen in the 118th Congress might pale in comparison to the coming chaos.

by | Mar 24, 2024 | Articles, Good Reads, Opinion, Politics

Yet another House Republican has called it quits. After the divisive funding vote and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-GA) motion to oust Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) on Friday, March 22, Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin announced that he’ll be leaving office on April 19. He had already planned not to run for re-election, but his early withdrawal now guarantees the GOP majority in the House shrinks by yet one more for the remainder of this year.

Another Blow to the GOP Majority

The House expelled New York’s George Santos late last year, and he has since been replaced with a Democrat. Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California left shortly after being removed as speaker of the house. While his replacement will be one of two Republicans, the vacancy won’t be filled until after the May runoff. Bill Johnson of Ohio retired in January, Ken Buck of Colorado left office Friday, March 22, and, of course, now Gallagher is headed home on April 19.

Always a tight majority, Republicans’ lead over Democrats sits at just 218 to 213 – which will fall to 217 to 213 once Gallagher leaves. What’s worse, two of those remaining – American Samoa At-Large Delegate Amata Coleman Radewagen and Puerto Rico At-Large Resident Commissioner Jennifer Gonzalez – are non-voting members. Soon, House Republicans will only be able to lose a single vote on anything unless the typically unified Democrats break ranks. Conversely, Democrats won’t have nearly as many Republicans to convince to have their way.

With Greene’s motion to vacate the chair inevitably leading to a vote to oust Mike Johnson from the speakership, such a tight majority could go very poorly for House Republicans. If enough Democrats stand behind Johnson, he’ll retain his position – though likely not much in the way of political capital within his own party or credibility in the eyes of MAGA voters. Should he lose the gavel, however, the GOP stands to lose more than just law-making potential while they bicker over who will be the next speaker. With such a slim majority, it’s possible the next speaker of the House won’t be a Republican at all – assuming Democrats can put forth a moderate enough candidate of their own and convince a frustrated lawmaker or two to cross the aisle.

Those Who Have Gone and Those Who Soon Will

Aside from these five whose seats either remain vacant or have been filled by a Democrat, there are many more who won’t seek re-election – and not having an incumbent in the race often lowers the party’s chance of keeping the seat.

New banner Liberty Nation Analysis 1Rep. Jerry Carl (R-AL) was defeated in the Super Tuesday primary by fellow Republican lawmaker Barry Moore after the Supreme Court forced Alabama to redraw congressional districts, combining much of Moore’s Second District into Carl’s First. While this seat is retained by the party, it puts another in play. Furthermore, while both congressmen are Republicans, Moore is a member of the anti-establishment Freedom Caucus, where Carl was more closely aligned with the business wing of the party. Unless the knot of hard-line conservatives can take control of the entire party, a win for the Freedom Caucus here may be a loss for the GOP at large.

Montana Republican Matt Rosendale had planned to run for the Senate, only to cancel his campaign amid death threats and strain on his family life. A week later, he announced he wouldn’t be running for re-election in the House, either. Joining Rosendale in retirement at the end of this term are Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, Indiana’s Greg Pence and Larry Bucshon, Doug Lamborn of Colorado, Missouri’s Blaine Luetkemeyer, Drew Ferguson of Georgia, North Carolina’s Patrick McHenry, Ohio’s Brad Wenstrup, Michael Burgess and Kay Granger of Texas, and Arizona’s Debbie Lesko.

Then there’s Jim Banks (R-IN), Alex Mooney (R-WV), and John Curtis (R-UT) who are giving up the House to run for the Senate. North Dakota’s Kelly Armstrong is running for governor, and North Carolina’s Dan Bishop hopes to be the next attorney general.

Conservative lawmakers are in a pickle this year, to be sure. But if Republicans don’t see the thus-far-elusive red wave they’ve been hoping for in November, 2025 may bring a new Democrat majority for the House.

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