House GOP majority shrinks to narrowest possible margin as Mike Gallagher departs Congress

 April 22, 2024

Amid growing internal strife that is threatening Speaker Mike Johnson's grip on the gavel, the House Republican majority has just receded by one more member, leaving the party with the very slimmest of advantages.

The departure of Wisconsin lawmaker Mike Gallagher, while anticipated, means that the GOP can now only afford to lose one vote if it hopes to pass any legislation on a party-line basis, as the Daily Mail reports.

Gallagher takes his leave

It was last month that Gallagher shocked the lower chamber by announcing his intention to resign his seat in Congress, as the Associated Press noted at the time.

At just 40 years of age, the Wisconsin lawmaker indicated that he planned to depart the role on April 19, and he had previously made it known that he did not plan to run for re-election.

According to Roll Call, Gallagher said upon revealing his decision, “Four terms serving Northeast Wisconsin in Congress has been the honor of a lifetime and strengthened my conviction that America is the greatest country in the history of the world.”

Referencing his desire to see a continuation of the work he prioritized while in the House, Gallagher noted, “I've worked closely with House Republican leadership on this timeline and look forward to seeking Speaker [Mike] Johnson appoint a new chair to carry out the important mission of the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party.”

Though Gallagher provided sparse details of the reasons behind his departure at the time of his announcement, he later hinted that death threats he has received played a role in his resignation, saying that while he “signed up” for “late-night swatting” and the like, his young family had not, as the Independent noted.

Strategic delay

Despite his prior target date of April 19, Gallagher ultimately delayed his resignation from the House for what many viewed as a rather controversial reason, as Wisconsin Public Radio reported.

Gallagher decided to hang around for an extra couple of days in order to deliver his vote in favor of a massive foreign aid bill that included new funds for Ukraine.

While the move surely garnered gratitude from Speaker Johnson and a host of Democrats, the New Republic characterized it as something designed to “screw over his own party,” a sentiment with which lawmakers such as Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) would surely agree as they ponder a push to remove Johnson from the speaker's chair.

Razor-thin majority remains

As the Mail noted, there are now 217 Republicans, 213 Democrats and five vacancies at present in the House.

As such, if any two GOP members cross the aisle and vote with Democrats on a piece of legislation, the outcome would be a 215-215 tie, which means automatic defeat for the measure in question.

Making matters even more precarious for Republicans is last week's announcement from Rep. Jake LaTurner (R-KS) that he does not wish to seek re-election in November.

As such, Johnson is looking at a future in which he will have no choice but to seek common ground and opportunities to collaborate with Democrats, though to the great irritation of numerous hardline conservatives in the chamber, that is not something that seems to bother him all that much anyway.

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