Happy early Thanksgiving! Among other blessings, we’re grateful that lawmakers finally skipped town. They’ll return next week. In the meantime, let’s examine the wave of recent retirement announcements in the House.
The Congressional Record
- House Speaker Mike Johnson met with former President Donald Trump in Florida on Monday night during a fundraising trip to the state. Johnson—who led an amicus brief supporting a Texas lawsuit that attempted to throw out results from several states Trump lost in the 2020 election—endorsed Trump’s 2024 presidential bid last week.
- Rep. Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat who was first elected in 1992, announced her decision to retire Tuesday afternoon. Eshoo’s Silicon Valley district is safely Democratic, and her departure will spark a hotly contested campaign among Democratic candidates to claim the seat.
- Two House Republicans are requesting records from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to investigate what a Wall Street Journal investigation last week revealed to be the agency’s toxic and sexist workplace culture. “The allegations of a culture of tolerating harassment at the FDIC weakens the credibility of your agency,” Reps. Lisa McClain and Andy Biggs wrote in a letter to FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg.
- Republicans on the select committee on competition with the Chinese Communist Party are urging congressional leaders to approve $12 billion in funding to boost the United States’ presence in the Indo-Pacific region and ramp up arms production. They argue the $2 billion President Joe Biden recently requested for similar purposes isn’t nearly enough to deter a Chinese attack on self-governed, democratic Taiwan.
- House Speaker Mike Johnson said Friday he will release all non-sensitive security footage from the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Videos from the first tranche of footage sparked far-right conspiracy theories on X, formerly known as Twitter, about FBI operatives participating in the attack. Sen. Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, said he planned to ask the FBI about a man in a video whom Trump’s supporters deemed suspicious, even though that man—a Trump supporter himself—is currently serving four years in prison for his actions that day.
- Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan told Politico this week that House Republicans aim to make a decision in early 2024 about whether to impeach President Joe Biden. GOP lawmakers hope to conduct 15 witness interviews, including a deposition of Hunter Biden, for the investigation by the end of 2023.
The House’s Retention Problem
Congress isn’t a great place to be a parent.
Members contend with unpredictable voting schedules, frequent travel, nonstop campaign events, angry constituents, death threats, stressful fundraising demands, and stagnant wages. Without proxy voting or other remote participation procedures, their maternity leave options are limited. That may be why only 12 women have given birth while serving in Congress. And a nonprofit advocacy group encouraging more moms to run for office estimated earlier this year that just 7 percent of current lawmakers are mothers to minor children.
Lawmakers with a spouse back home might not have to worry as much about arranging childcare, but they still miss family dinners and day-to-day parenting tasks like picking children up from school or sports practices. So it’s no surprise that a desire to spend more time with family is among the most commonly cited reasons when members of both parties choose not to seek reelection. In some cases, that explanation may only scratch the surface of other contributing factors, like today’s incredibly dysfunctional GOP conference, redrawn district maps, and tough reelection prospects. Members also leave to campaign for higher office or as they grow too old to keep up with a fast-paced job.