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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

Capitol review panel recommends more police, mobile fencing

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

A panel appointed by Congress to review security measures at the Capitol is recommending several changes, including mobile fencing and a bigger Capitol police force, to safeguard the area after a riotous mob breached the building on Jan 6.

Why it matters: Law enforcement officials have warned there could be new plots to attack the area and target lawmakers, including during a speech President Biden is expected to give to a joint session of Congress.

Financial fallout from the Texas deep freeze

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Texas has thawed out after an Arctic freeze last month threw the state into a power crisis. But the financial turmoil from power grid shock is just starting to take shape.

Why it matters: In total, electricity companies are billions of dollars short on the post-storm payments they now owe to the state's grid operator. There's no clear path for how they will pay — something being watched closely across the country as extreme weather events become more common.

U.S. Chamber decides against political ban for Capitol insurrection

A pedestrian passes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters as it undergoes renovation. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce revealed Friday it won't withhold political donations from lawmakers who simply voted against certifying the presidential election results and instead decide on a case-by-case basis.

Why it matters: The Chamber is the marquee entity representing businesses and their interests in Washington. Its memo, obtained exclusively by Axios, could set the tone for businesses debating how to handle their candidate and PAC spending following the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.