A Wave of Resignations Rock House Republicans

The House GOP is now down to its smallest majority in decades.

What’s happening: Representative Mike Gallagher (R-WI) announced he will resign on April 19th, bringing the GOP’s majority down to just one seat.

Why it matters: Such a slim majority makes it extremely difficult for House Speaker Mike Johnson, elected last October, to pass anything. Democrats are also significantly more powerful — only one or two GOP members defecting would kill legislation or secure significant concessions.

  • The numbers: 217 members mean that GOP leadership can afford to lose only one vote on a given bill or motion. Losing two ties the House at 215-215.

Resignations galore: Gallagher’s resignation follows other high-profile resignations from Congress this session. Both Ken Buck (R-CO) and Bill Johnson (R-OH) resigned this year, while last year both former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Chris Stewart (R-UT) left their seats.

  • Santos expulsion: George Santos was expelled from Congress last year and his seat was won by a Democrat in the ensuing special election.

Why are they leaving? Rep. Stewart cited the health of his wife, and Johnson took up a position in academia. But the others simply seem frustrated with the Republican caucus. Buck said it was the worst year “in 40 or 50 years” to be in Congress due to internal “bickering and nonsense.”

What’s next: Gallagher’s seat will not be filled until November, while the May election to replace McCarthy is down to two Republicans. Buck’s and Johnson’s districts, both reliably red, will not hold elections to replace them until June. Ultimately, the House may be a toss-up in the 2024 elections.