Slim Republican House Majority Shrinks Further as Lawmaker Quits

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(Bloomberg) -- Four-term Republican Congressman Mike Gallagher said he will quit Congress, leaving House Speaker Mike Johnson able to lose only one lawmaker on any party-line vote starting April 19.

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Gallagher’s announcement Friday further weakens Johnson’s hold over the slender, fractious House Republican majority.

Gallagher, chairman of a high-profile select committee on China, previously said he wouldn’t run for reelection but his early resignation wasn’t expected. He is the second Republican in recent weeks to decide to leave early, following Colorado Representative Ken Buck, whose resignation took effect Friday.

Gallagher, who represents a Wisconsin district, said in a statement he had informed party leaders of his decision and “looks forward to seeing Speaker Johnson appoint a new chair to carry out the important mission” of the China committee. He didn’t give a reason for leaving Congress early.

Gallagher issued his statement shortly after Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia took the first steps toward ousting Johnson.

Once Gallagher departs, House Republicans’ majority will shrink to 217-213, with five vacancies. Because a tie vote fails, Johnson would only be able to sustain one Republican defection on a party-line vote.

Two special elections will have immediate influence on the House’s balance of power after Gallagher’s exit.

Polls show a Democrat in strong position to win an April 30 special election in western New York to fill a House vacancy previously held by retired Democrat Brian Higgins. And Tuesday’s special election in California to fill former Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s seat ended without anyone getting more than 50% support — meaning that seat will remain vacant until a May 21 run-off race.

Johnson’s thin majority already is forcing him to frequently turn to Democrats to help pass important legislation.

Gallagher’s departure also leaves uncertain the future of the China committee.

He led a bipartisan group of lawmakers that introduced legislation to force TikTok’s Chinese parent company to sell it or face a ban in the US. The measure passed the House but still requires Senate approval.

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