Feb 1, 2018

The GOP's crisis of quitting

Rep. Trey Gowdy leaving the Capitol in 2015. Photo: Al Drago / CQ Roll Call

With increasing expectations of a Democratic wave in November's midterm elections, the Republican Party is facing a record number of retirements in the House of Representatives — and it’s only February 1. In perhaps the biggest tell, eight GOP committee chairs have announced their retirements from politics.

Why it matters: There is no surer sign of GOP fear of the midterm outcome — and no surer example of how even the most powerful jobs feel like a drag in this era of dysfunctional governance — than people in power racing for the exits. 

Worth noting: The majority of the retiring committee chairs have been term-limited out of their positions. GOP rules limit House chairmen to six years, a Newt Gingrich-era relic of a rule designed to increase the power of the Speaker of the House that was carried over by John Boehner in 2010 before the GOP's midterm wave later that year.

  • But there's no telling if the term-limited chairs might have chosen to stay in the House had they been able to keep their powerful positions.
  • One more thing: Research indicates that the term limits rule limits the effectiveness of committee chairs and could make Congress function more poorly, per The Washington Post.

The chairmen heading for the exits:

  • Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ), Appropriations Committee, assumed position in January 2017
  • Bob Goodlatte (VA), Judiciary Committee, term-limited
  • Trey Gowdy (SC), Oversight Committee, assumed position in June 2017
  • Gregg Harper (MS), Administration Committee, assumed position in January 2017
  • Jeb Hensarling (TX), Financial Services Committee, term-limited
  • Ed Royce (CA), Foreign Affairs Committee, term-limited
  • Bill Shuster (PA), Transportation Committee, term-limited
  • Lamar Smith (TX), Science, Space, and Technology Committee, term-limited

A bonus exit: Rep. Diane Black left her position as chair of the Budget Committee earlier this month — which she assumed in January 2017 — to focus on her run for Tennessee governor this fall.

Go deeper

Trump signs $2 trillion relief bill as U.S. coronavirus case count tops 100,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

President Trump signed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package on Friday, as infections in the U.S. topped 100,000 and more cities experience spikes of the novel coronavirus.

The big picture: The U.S. has the most COVID-19 cases in the world, exceeding China and Italy, per data from Johns Hopkins. A second wave of American cities, including Boston, Detroit, New Orleans and Philadelphia, are reporting influxes of cases.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 8 hours ago - Health

Coronavirus updates: Italy records deadliest day with nearly 1,000 dead

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

Italy on Friday reported 969 COVID-19 deaths over a 24-hour period, marking the deadliest single-day for the country since the global outbreak began, according to data from the Health Ministry.

The big picture: The U.S. now leads the world in confirmed coronavirus cases, as the number of global cases nears 600,000. Governments around the world are trying to curb the medical and financial fallout of COVID-19, as infections surge across Europe and the U.S.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 8 hours ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 595,800 — Total deaths: 27,324 — Total recoveries: 131,006.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 103,942 — Total deaths: 1,689 — Total recoveries: 870.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump signed the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill to provide businesses and U.S. workers economic relief.
  4. State updates: Nearly 92% of cities do not have adequate medical supplies — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month.
  5. World updates: Italy reported 969 coronavirus deaths on Friday, the country's deadliest day.
  6. Business latest: President Trump authorized the use of the Defense Production Act to direct General Motors to build ventilators for those affected by COVID-19. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro has been appointed to enforce the act.
  7. 🏰 1 Disney thing: Both Disney World and Disneyland theme parks in the U.S. are closed until further notice.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancing.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.