The Broken (and Shrinking Fast) House GOP


The Republican-ruled U.S. House of Representatives has become a broken home, with a promising GOP lawmaker leaving and the latest House Speaker on the ropes. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisconsin, announced he will quit Congress on April 19, reducing the GOP to a one-vote majority. A fellow Republican, Colorado Rep. Ken Buck, was clearing out his office after casting his last vote.

As the House passed a $1.2 trillion appropriations bill — on the strength of Democratic votes — far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Georgia, was on the U.S. Capitol steps announcing a motion to vacate the Speaker’s office. A majority of House Republicans had just voted against a spending bill described by Speaker Mike Johnson as “the best achievable outcome in a divided government.”

These moves could affect our state delegation. If Democrats flip the House in November, Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., will again chair the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Rick Larsen will likely chair the House Transportation Committee, and Rep. Suzan DelBene will reap the benefits of chairing the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Fox News loves to run Democrats-in-Disarray headlines. Now House Republicans have formed a circular firing squad, with mounting casualties. The most divisive members of their caucus are favored guests of such Fox hosts as Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham.
MAGA extremists last fall purged House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, himself a strident partisan, for daring to do a deal preventing a government shutdown. McCarthy quit Congress. A special election for his California seat is slated later this spring.

Rep. Buck bailed out in disgust at colleagues’ maladroit effort to impeach President Biden. Ditto Gallagher, one of three Republicans to vote against impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. The result leaves Republicans with 217 seats in the 435/member House.

The House has begun a two-week Easter break, so the earliest Greene can bring up her motion is April 8. She was coy on timing Friday, telling reporters: “It’s more a warning than a pink slip. We need a new Speaker.” Greene, a limelight-seeker, added: “The clock has started. It’s time for our conference to pick a new leader.” The ability to govern is the acid test of politics, but acid rain is falling on the “people’s house.” MAGA extremists do not know how to govern and seemingly do not want to govern.

Years ago in California, Ronald Reagan instituted a commandment in his party; “Thou shalt not speak ill of any Republican.” Well, that was then. In today’s House, even the crazies are at each other’s throats. Greene was a McCarthy booster, having sold her support for good committee assignments. She took out after Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, who brought the motion against the Speaker. In turn, on Friday, Gaetz was backing Johnson and laying into Greene.

If Johnson survives a vote to vacate the Speaker’s office, he will need support from the chamber’s 213 Democrats, soon to be 214 after a safely Democratic seat is filled by a special election in New York’s Long Island. It gets worse for the GOP: with Gallagher and Buck leaving, four formerly Republican seats are currently or soon vacant.

Having spent years securing coveted positions in the House, prominent figures are soon to leave. House Appropriations Committee Chair Kay Granger, R-Texas, is quitting her committee post and not seeking reelection. Spokane Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is hanging it up. So is Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-North Carolina, chair of the House Financial Services Committee.

Gallagher, 39, is already a four-term veteran, rising Republican star, and chair of the House Select Committee on Communist China. He had just steered passage of legislation to force TikTok to sever its ties to China. He said little about leaving early, only that he’s doing so “after conversations with my family.” Under Wisconsin law, his vacant seat will not be filled until the November election.

Once known for bloody leadership wars, House Democrats voted with near-unity under Speaker Nancy Pelosi and — with a thin majority — succeeded in passing major legislation such as the American Rescue Act and the Inflation Reduction Act in the first two years of the Biden Administration. The unity has continued under Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-New York, picked unanimously as Pelosi’s successor as Democratic leader.

By contrast, on Friday, 100 House Republicans supported the big appropriations bill while 109 opposed it. One “No” vote came from Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who chairs a major committee and was once a top GOP official in the House.

Joel Connelly
Joel Connelly
I worked for Seattle Post-Intelligencer from 1973 until it ceased print publication in 2009, and from 2009 to 6/30/2020. During that time, I wrote about 9 presidential races, 11 Canadian and British Columbia elections‎, four doomed WPPSS nuclear plants, six Washington wilderness battles, creation of two national Monuments (Hanford Reach and San Juan Islands), a 104 million acre Alaska Lands Act, plus the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area.


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