Rep. Chris Stewart resigns from Congress, citing wife's health concerns

 May 31, 2023

Republicans control the House of Representatives, but their majority is slim. It could dwindle further in the coming days, according to reports.

According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Utah Republican Rep. Chris Stewart is retiring from his House seat, which would drop the Republican House majority down to 221, which is only three votes more than is required to pass legislation.

Stewart represents the state's 2nd Congressional District, which covers roughly half of Utah.

The report indicated that his resignation would likely be due to an undisclosed health issue with his wife. He indicated as such in a tweet.

What's it mean?

At the current time, when House Republican leadership is desperately trying to whip support from its members for the debt limit deal struck between President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), losing a member to resignation will likely sting.

Stewart announced his retirement from Congress on Wednesday via Twitter.

Stewart's seat will have to be filled. The Daily Caller noted:

A primary and special election for Stewart’s seat can only be scheduled after he formally resigns, and must be done by Utah’s Gov. Spencer Cox within seven days. The general election, however, will occur along with all other state general elections, unless the legislature appropriates money for a separate election on a different day, per the Tribune.

The outlet also noted that more GOP candidates could enter the race to fill Stewart's potentially empty seat, as his seat is considered a safe bet for Republicans.

There was early speculation, prior to the resignation reports, that indicated Stewart might consider challenging Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT). However, the outlet noted that it's not likely to happen.

Tricky situation

Speaker McCarthy, who is already struggling to bring together the Republican side of the aisle on key legislation regarding the debt ceiling crisis, will lose possible support for now, which he can't afford.

Fox News noted:

Assuming united Democratic opposition, McCarthy can only afford to lose three Republican votes on any given legislation. Intra-party fighting between hard-line conservatives and moderates already threatened to tank a Republican border security bill this year, and current GOP disagreements on the debt ceiling deal demonstrate plenty of Republican lawmakers are willing to buck the party line.

Stewart's resignation marks the second Utah Republican to resign early from the House in the past six years.

Former U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz was the last Utah GOP lawmaker to resign, which prompted a special election.


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