Top Pelosi loyalist announces plan to retire from Congress at end of current term

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was already facing tough odds as she seeks to maintain the majority in Congress after the 2022 midterm elections. Now, those odds may have grown even tougher, because one of her most loyal lieutenants just announced she will not be running for re-election.

Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL), formerly the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), revealed Friday that she will retire from Congress at the conclusion of the current term, Breitbart reported.

“A new voice”

In an announcement video, Rep. Bustos let it be known that she plans to step aside from Congress at the end of the current term to make way for “a new voice,” and though she declined to provide details on what her “next chapter” might entail, the 10-year veteran of the lower chamber hinted strongly that she wasn’t entirely finished with politics.

According to Politico, the congresswoman’s announcement comes on the heels of her decision to step down from leadership at the DCCC. The move came after Democrats shockingly lost around a dozen seats in the 2020 election, even as the party was predicted to gain seats and expand its House majority.

It also adds an interesting wrinkle to how the Democratic-controlled Illinois General Assembly will deal with Bustos’ district when redrawing the state’s congressional maps amid the reapportionment process.

Given that the district was trending red in recent election cycles, the current thought is that the district could be absorbed into other Democrat strongholds, while Republican-heavy areas are combined with other red districts, a situation that could force multiple Republicans to fight against each other for a vacant seat.

Targeted by NRCC

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), for its part, celebrated Rep. Bustos’ impending departure with a simple one-sentence statement: “Cheri Bustos made the right decision to retire rather than face defeat in 2022.”

The congresswoman was one of the more prominent among more than two dozen Democratic House incumbents targeted by the NRCC in an “exit list” of members expected to either retire or run for a different or higher office ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

“House Democrats are running for the exits because they know they’re in for a bruising election cycle which will cost them their jobs and their House majority,” NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer (R-MN) said of the list. “They’d rather move on than have to spend another election defending their socialist agenda that will strip Americans of their private health insurance, defund the police, open our borders and raise taxes.”

Bustos now joins two other House Democrats on that list who have already announced their plans to retire from Congress at the end of the current term, Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-NM) and Filemon Vela (D-TX), and more retirement announcements are likely to come over the next year.

Looking forward

As noted, the situation was already looking rather grim for Speaker Pelosi and her historically slim majority in the House as they look to the 2022 midterms.

Now, with the impending loss of one of Pelosi’s top loyalists in the lower chamber, and with Republicans mounting a concerted effort to regain control, it could be Pelosi who’s the next to announce that she’s throwing in the towel for good.

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