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DATE 2023-11-01

HANGOUT

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MESSAGE
DATE 2023-11-23
FROM Ruben Safir
SUBJECT Subject: [Hangout - NYLXS] Burnout in Congress
Retirements Surge in Congress in Wake of GOP House Speaker Drama
Siobhan Hughes
6–8 minutes

WASHINGTON—House lawmakers rushed to the exits just ahead of
Thanksgiving, with a surge of announced retirements from members fed up
with drama and partisanship on Capitol Hill.

A dozen lawmakers—six Democrats and six Republicans—have said in
November that they don’t plan to continue serving in Congress, the most
in any month since at least 2011, based on data compiled by news site
Ballotpedia. Just Tuesday, Republican Rep. Bill Johnson of Ohio, 69
years old, announced he would leave office early next year to lead
Youngstown State University.

The pickup in retirements comes as Republicans continue to fight a
wrenching intraparty battle over government spending, with hard-liners
successfully ousting Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) last month and
putting the heat on his successor, Mike Johnson (R., La.). This tussle
has spilled onto the House floor, paralyzing it for weeks at a time.
Moreover, many lawmakers of both parties have grown weary of the antics
of some colleagues, with name-calling and social-media smackdowns now
commonplace.

“The last few years have been among the most difficult and frustrating
times in my professional career with a chaotic House,” said Rep. Dan
Kildee (D., Mich.), 65. The six-term lawmaker, who serves as the
Democrats’ chief deputy whip, announced this month that he wouldn’t seek
re-election. “It’s hard to erase that experience from one’s mind in
making this decision.”

Earlier this year, many of the House lawmakers who announced retirements
were leaving to pursue higher office, including Democratic Reps. Adam
Schiff, Katie Porter and Barbara Lee, who are seeking a California
Senate seat. Others are running for Senate slots in Maryland, West
Virginia, Indiana, Texas and elsewhere.

That has changed in recent months. Since the ouster of McCarthy in
October and weeks spent without an elected House speaker, some lawmakers
of both parties have concluded that Congress is just not going to be a
productive place.

“This is a bad patch—but it’s the start of a bad patch, not the end of
it,” said Rep. Brian Higgins (D., N.Y.), a 64-year-old, 10-term
congressman who plans to leave in early February to lead a Buffalo
performing-arts center. “Spending more time doing considerably less is
not a way that I want to spend the next decade.”

Of lawmakers who made November announcements to retire, only one—Rep.
Abigail Spanberger (D., Va.), 44 years old, who hopes to be elected
Virginia’s governor—is quitting to seek higher office. The rest are
generally planning to serve at local organizations, retiring from public
service or haven’t decided what to do next.

By this week, the list of House lawmakers who won’t be part of the next
Congress had reached 36, based on a tally maintained by the House press
gallery, which includes resignations and planned retirements as well as
deaths. That is consistent with the average of about 35 per Congress
since 1960, based on statistics maintained by the Brookings Institution,
though more retirements could be announced before this Congress is over.

Many lawmakers trace the trend directly to the speaker fight and the
related battles over government spending, while also citing personal
reasons such as a desire to be near family rather than constantly in
Washington. Both Republicans and Democrats described a partisan
environment turbocharged by social media, with the desire to generate
online attention so powerful that serious legislative efforts were often
shortchanged.

“The environment is different than maybe when I started,” said Rep. Brad
Wenstrup (R., Ohio), a 65-year-old, six-term lawmaker who serves on the
House Intelligence Committee and two weeks ago announced that he
wouldn’t seek re-election. “There are some people that come to really
put their heads down and work and work hard and perform—and there’s
others that want to be more performers than producers.”

“There are more and more people who just simply don’t care about doing
what I think is the job of Congress,” said retiring Rep. Earl Blumenauer
(D., Ore.), a 75-year old, 15-term congressman who has dug into issues
as varied as cannabis reform, flood insurance and supporting restaurants
during the pandemic. “They’re interested in getting attention, raising
money and raising Cain,” he said.

Mike Johnson has already engendered bad feelings with some conservatives
after he was forced to pass a short-term bill with Democratic backing to
avert a shutdown, raising the prospect of more fighting next year when
the next deadlines come in January and February.

Other factors have played a role as well, including the fallout from the
most recent presidential election, which former President Donald Trump
falsely claimed was stolen. Rep. Ken Buck (R., Colo.), 64, announced on
Nov. 1 that he wouldn’t run again, saying in a video posted to social
media that “too many Republican leaders are lying to America, claiming
that the 2020 election was stolen, describing Jan. 6 as an unguided tour
of the Capitol, and asserting that the ensuing prosecutions are a
weaponization of our justice system.”

Another member, Rep. George Santos (R., N.Y.), announced he won’t run
for re-election after the release of a damning report from the House
Ethics Committee related to alleged misuse of campaign donations. He
also faces federal charges.

Others, including Rep. Kay Granger (R., Texas), 80, the chairwoman of
the House Appropriations Committee, and Anna Eshoo (D., Calif.), also
80, a close ally of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and
one of the longest-serving members in Congress, are retiring after long
careers in public service.

Most retiring lawmakers plan to stay in office until the end of the
current term, meaning the exits aren’t expected to affect the balance of
power in the Republican-controlled chamber.

One casualty of the race for the exits will be some expertise. Rep. Mike
Burgess (R., Texas), 72, an 11-term lawmaker and former physician,
counts a 2015 law changing the way Medicare pays doctors as one of his
biggest achievements. But he thinks that Congress needs to revisit the
statute, saying that reimbursements to doctors in small practices have
been squeezed so much that some are quitting. Burgess views his
colleague Wenstrup as “insightful about this stuff”—but Wenstrup is
retiring as well.

“It’s a double whammy,” Burgess said. “You are losing a little bit of
the brain trust.”

Write to Siobhan Hughes at Siobhan.hughes-at-wsj.com
--
So many immigrant groups have swept through our town
that Brooklyn, like Atlantis, reaches mythological
proportions in the mind of the world - RI Safir 1998
http://www.mrbrklyn.com

DRM is THEFT - We are the STAKEHOLDERS - RI Safir 2002
http://www.nylxs.com - Leadership Development in Free Software
http://www2.mrbrklyn.com/resources - Unpublished Archive
http://www.coinhangout.com - coins!
http://www.brooklyn-living.com

Being so tracked is for FARM ANIMALS and extermination camps,
but incompatible with living as a free human being. -RI Safir 2013

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  28. 2023-11-14 Ruben Safir <ruben-at-mrbrklyn.com> Re: [Hangout - NYLXS] Gaza and the UN
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  32. 2023-11-17 Ruben Safir <ruben-at-mrbrklyn.com> Subject: [Hangout - NYLXS] Censoring truth ....
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  41. 2023-11-23 Ruben Safir <ruben-at-mrbrklyn.com> Subject: [Hangout - NYLXS] Burnout in Congress
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  54. 2023-11-28 Ruben Safir <ruben-at-mrbrklyn.com> Re: [Hangout - NYLXS] New job at Columbia
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  56. 2023-11-27 Ruben Safir <ruben-at-mrbrklyn.com> Re: [Hangout - NYLXS] New job at Columbia
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