Once You’re In Trump’s GOP, He Won’t Let You Leave Without A Fight

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UNITED STATES - MAY 31: Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., talks with reporters before a procedural vote on the debt limit bill in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, May 31, 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
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Embodying his mob boss cosplay to a cartoonish degree, Donald Trump over the weekend went after two of the handful of House Republicans who have opted to leave Congress early because being a member of the House Republican conference has become too annoying. (There are plenty of official reasons for these retirements and resignations, but many of the lawmakers who were once bright-eyed about legislating have also expressed exhaustion with operating in a perpetual state of near-shutdown while ostensibly in the majority.)

“Never forget our cowards and weaklings! Such a disgrace,” Trump posted on his bootleg Twitter Sunday, part of a weekend of near-constant screeds from the former president. In that post, he referenced an article about Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) who has drawn some ire from the far-right flank of his conference over his newly revealed and suspiciously timed plans to leave Congress. Gallagher said he plans to retire from Congress and leave the House before the end of his term, on April 19 — just past the deadline under Wisconsin law for when the state would have to hold a special election to fill his seat for the remainder of the term.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) was also likely a target of Trump’s weekend bullying. Buck, who has been critical of some House Republican behavior and has been a critic of the flailing Biden impeachment effort resigned last week and will be replaced in June.

The two openings combined with other vacancies in the House — like ousted-Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) early resignation and a Democrat winning the special election for booted-Rep. George Santos’ (R-NY) seat — mean that House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) will be down to a 217-to-213 majority. That means House Republicans will only be able to lose one single vote with full attendance in order to pass any legislation.

The irony in Trump’s weekend harassment of the departees lies in the fact that the former president would prefer if House Republicans just stopped legislating for the rest of the year, so he can use the claim that Washington can’t do anything — particularly on immigration — to smack President Biden on the campaign trail.

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