Politics

36 House GOP Reps. Vacating Seats

Committee term limits are part of the reason for the exodus. What does that say about the broader need?

Jordan Candler · Jan. 9, 2018

It will be extremely interesting to see how this November’s elections play out. To date, 36 Republican representatives have either resigned or announced they are retiring or seeking another office, according to the House Press Gallery’s Casualty List. This is more than twice the number of departing Democrats. Republicans currently have a 46-seat lead in the House (239 Republicans versus 193 Democrats), meaning Democrats will need to flip two dozen seats to regain the majority.

How likely is that to happen? It depends. As long as the Republican casualty list grows, the outlook could brighten for Democrats. Republicans will likely retain control of most of these seats because of the states they’re in, but other seats are less definitive. For example, California Rep. Ed Royce just published a statement in which he announced this will be his “final year of my Foreign Affairs Committee chairmanship,” and by extension his congressional career.

As Hot Air’s Allahpundit explains, Royce’s seat isn’t nearly as safe from Democrats: “Royce was probably the party’s only chance of holding the seat, and even that was no sure thing. Without him, CA-39 likely turns blue.”

This is a quagmire, both strategically and ethically. On the one hand, Republicans need to retain as many seats as possible. But Royce has been on Capitol Hill for a quarter-century. As Allahpundit explains, he cannot remain chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee because of committee term limits enacted by the Republican Party. This is the likely reason for his vacating. Which is ironic — in one sense he’s hanging up the cleats because of committee chair term limits. Yet he has been a lawmaker in the House for 25 years. Terms limits did end up ending his career in the House, but not in the way you’d expect.

Moreover, Allahpundit continues, “Royce is the seventh committee chairman in the House to announce his resignation this year; faced with the prospect of running an uphill race in November and winning, only to return to the House as a backbencher instead of his committee’s head honcho, he decided to pack it in.” In other words, the inevitable reality of his (and others) going back to an second-tier status prompted his retirement. Some voters who support term limits also support doing anything and everything to retain the majority — including electing someone time and time again. No one is saying the solution is an easy one, but they might not be able to have it both ways.

And while it’s proving exceptionally difficult for Congress to adopt term limits for everyone, these cases show that they do work. After all, most were committee chairs only because of the power that came with it.


Update: Darrell Issa (R-CA) announced he too will not seek re-election. Stay tuned as the exits get even more crowded.

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