House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced Friday that the reason so many Republicans have announced they are retiring from Congress is that they know the GOP probably will be in the minority in 2020 and that “most likely” a Democrat will be in the White House.
“I think it’s an indication that Republicans know that they’ll probably be serving in the minority in the next Congress and most likely with a Democrat in the White House,” Pelosi told C-Span’s Steve Scully. “So I think it’s time to spend more time with their families.”
The Hill notes, however, that most of the retirements have been in GOP strongholds that will likely elect another Republican rather than flipping the seat to a Democrat in 2020. A record 34 Republicans retired before the 2018 midterms, however, which may have helped the Democrats gain a majority.
The record number of Republican retirements in 2018 probably had more to do with committee chairmanship terms being up than with a potential change in leadership. In 2020, however, the uncertainty about a Trump re-election, coupled with many Republican committee chairs being forced to play second fiddle to Democrats for the first time in years has probably driven the retirement wave.
Legislative tensions high
Many in Congress have noted the atmosphere of acrimony in recent years, and some in the GOP may just be tired of all the tension. It’s definitely gotten more difficult to get anything done in today’s Congress, and some long-time members may not want to deal with it anymore.
“The most likely outcome is a status quo election for the House. And that certainly influences people’s decision [to retire], whether they think they can regain the majority or not,” former Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) said. Curbelo was one of two dozen Republicans who was unseated during the 2018 midterms.
“For sure, some of those members who retired, [remaining in the minority] was a factor in their thinking.” And who can blame them? Since the Democrats took over the House in 2019, they have unilaterally passed legislation on gun control and immigration that has no hope of being passed in the Senate or signed by President Donald Trump.
And now, Democrats seem poised to pass Articles of Impeachment against Trump despite lacking support in the Senate for a conviction. Indeed, Democrats do not even know on what grounds they will impeach Trump, only that they want to do it.
What Republican wants to stick around for that, knowing they can’t do anything to stop the train wreck because they don’t have the votes to do so?
Of course, Pelosi has no idea whether Trump will be re-elected. She has to project confidence in her party even though its current field of presidential candidates doesn’t look especially promising.
But she knows as well as anyone that it’s not going to be easy to beat Trump, who is filling stadiums and then some for his rallies while Democrat candidates struggle to fill high school gymnasiums.
No matter what the rigged polls say, she may very well be stuck with Trump for the next five-plus years with nothing but a House majority to check his power.