Patrick McHenry becomes 37th lawmaker to retire this year

December 7, 2023

House Republican Patrick McHenry is retiring, joining a growing exodus of lawmakers from Capitol Hill. 

McHenry, 48, briefly took over as House Speaker after the ouster of his ally Kevin McCarthy (CA), who also announced he is leaving in 2024.

This makes McHenry the 37th member of Congress to announce his retirement this year.

Republican joins exodus...

McHenry's North Carolina seat is safely red, so his retirement is unlikely to shift the balance of power.

"This is not a decision I come to lightly, but I believe there is a season for everything and—for me—this season has come to an end," McHenry said in a statement.

Although McHenry did not say why he is leaving, he said the press reports of dysfunction in Washington are "exaggerated." The House is in "good hands," he said.

"There has been a great deal of handwringing and ink spilled about the future of this institution because some—like me—have decided to leave. Those concerns are exaggerated," he said.

"I’ve seen a lot of change over twenty years. I truly feel this institution is on the verge of the next great turn," he added. "Whether its 1974, 1994, or 2010, we’ve seen the House evolve over time. Evolutions are often lumpy and disjointed but at each stage, new leaders emerge."

Retirements shape 2024

The liberal media have cited political drama in the GOP as the primary reason for the wave of retirements from the House and Senate.

The party's right-wing faction has forced close brushes with a government shutdown, and McCarthy's ouster earlier this year paralyzed the House during an extended leadership squabble.

Political divisions have also brought a new level of animosity to the Capitol. Democrats have fumed over Republican threats to impeach Joe Biden; Republicans accuse Biden of corrupt profiteering, weaponizing government to attack conservatives and failing to secure the southern border.

Republicans are fighting to keep a narrow House majority in 2024. Most of the House Republicans retiring this year are from safely red districts, with one notable exception: the expulsion of fraudster George Santos has opened up a competitive race in suburban Long Island, New York.

Seven senators have retired, including Democrat Joe Manchin of ruby-red West Virginia, putting Democrats in a squeeze as they fight to defend their narrow Senate majority.

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