Mike Johnson Hoped for an 'End of the Exits.' Now, Another

Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin to resign April 19, leaving House GOP down to a one-vote margin
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 23, 2024 11:30 AM CDT
With This Early House Exit, GOP Has One Vote to Spare
Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., leads a hearing at the Capitol in Washington on Feb. 28, 2023.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Earlier this month, when Colorado GOP Rep. Ken Buck announced he was stepping down early from his seat in the US House of Representatives, Speaker Mike Johnson insisted there were no further resignations planned. "I think, I hope and believe that that's the end of the exits for now," he said at the time, per the New York Times. Now, a wrench in those plans, with an announcement from yet another Republican congressman that his time on Capitol Hill is ending prematurely, further narrowing the GOP's already slim margin in the House.

  • The congressman: Rep. Mike Gallagher, 40, of Wisconsin had previously announced he wouldn't seek reelection, but on Friday he said he was expediting that departure, noting he was resigning on April 19. "I've worked closely with House Republican leadership on this timeline," Gallagher, who's in his fourth term, said in a statement, per the AP. Unlike Buck, who cited "bickering and nonsense" among his reasons for leaving Congress, Gallagher didn't offer an explanation, noting only that he'd made his decision "after conversations with my family," per the Times.
  • Repercussions: Once Gallagher scoots, that means there will be 217 Republicans in the House and 213 Democrats—meaning the GOP can't have more than one defection from the party line during a vote. That also means there's "almost no cushion to deal with the inevitable absences caused by illness, travel delays, weddings, funerals, and unforeseen events," per the Times.
  • Timing: That part is interesting, as Politico notes that if Gallagher had said his last day would be before April 9, a special election would've been triggered to fill his seat. As it stands, his seat in a solidly red district will now remain empty until the elections in November.
  • GOP reaction: Losing Gallagher obviously isn't an ideal situation, but Republicans commenting publicly say they're soldiering on. "It's tough, but it's tough with a five-seat majority, it's tough with a two-seat majority, one is going to be the same," House Majority Leader Steve Scalise said Friday, per Politico. "We all have to work together. We're all going to have to unite if we're going get some things done."
(More House of Representatives stories.)

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