Jan 8, 2024 - Politics & Policy

House GOP faces sudden flood of retirements after holiday break

Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer and Larry Bucshon. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images.

In an election cycle marked by an unusually high number of congressional retirements, House Republicans are facing a burst of new retirement announcements as they return from the holiday recess.

Why it matters: Members have complained that the chaos of last year and the overarching decline in legislative productivity makes Congress a less fruitful place to work, especially for less publicity-hungry lawmakers.

  • Some have also lamented the increasingly partisan, aggressive and event violent nature of contemporary national political life.

Driving the news: Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.) became the latest to announce his retirement, saying in a statement on Monday that "it became clear to me over the Christmas holiday ... that the time has come to bring my season in public service to a conclusion."

  • That follows announcements from Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.). All three are senior members of their respective committees who have been in Congress more than a decade.
  • Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah) also announced that he's jumping into the race for retiring Sen. Mitt Romney's (R-Utah) seat after initially passing on a run.
  • And Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) announced that his resignation to become president of Youngstown State University will take effect on Jan. 21, more than a month and a half earlier than expected.

Zoom in: All five of those members are considered institutionalists, but they represent safely Republican seats that may very well elevate more ideologically extreme members in their place.

  • The concern among many of the members opting to remain in Congress is that these retirements could serve to exacerbate congressional gridlock and partisanship.

What we're hearing: One House Republican, speaking on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly about internal conference dynamics, cited two factors that likely led to the sudden rush of retirements.

  1. A long recess reminding members of the comforts of home and family life, away from the often back-biting atmosphere of Washington, D.C.
  2. The desire to wait until close to their state's federal candidacy filing deadlines in order to "orchestrate succession" for their seat.

By the numbers: House Republicans and Democrats each have around a dozen members retiring or resigning by the end of the year.

  • That includes very senior members such as Financial Services Committee Chair Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), Appropriations Committee Chair Kay Granger (R-Texas) and Democratic Steering and Policy Committee co-chair Dan Kildee (D-Mich.).
  • Another dozen Democrats and four Republicans are running for higher office – mostly Senate seats.

What we're watching: The vast majority of states have deadlines between now and mid-July, meaning most members still have plenty of time to deliberate on their next steps.

  • The House Republican who spoke to Axios predicted more retirement announcements are likely on the way.

Editor's note: This article has been corrected to note that Rep. Luetkemeyer represents Missouri, not Michigan.

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