It's a brutal sign for the GOP that after running the House for all but four of the last 23 years in Congress that Republicans, now with complete control of the federal government, are running for the exits thanks to Trump. And there's no bigger loser in this exodus than House Speaker Paul Ryan.
A number of the speaker's closest comrades in the House have called it quits in recent weeks because they're tired of President Donald Trump's antics, depressed over the GOP's dearth of legislative accomplishments this year or have personal reasons. Whatever the causes, the departures are certain to make Ryan's job as House speaker harder, depriving him of loyal lieutenants in a conference already riven by ideological and stylistic divisions.
Rep. Pat Tiberi, a loyal ally of Ryan, is the latest departure. The Ohio Republican announced Thursday that he will resign by the end of January to take a job in the private sector. House GOP leaders had hoped the senior Ways and Means Committee member would lead the powerful tax panel in the coming years, House GOP sources told POLITICO. But Tiberi, a longtime tax reform proponent, made other plans just as tax talks are kicking off in earnest.
Tiberi will hardly be the last to leave, multiple House GOP sources say.
Lawmakers have grown increasingly frustrated with Trump’s penchant for drama and inability to focus on the legislative agenda, numerous House GOP lawmakers and staffers said. While Trump and most Republican voters blame Congress for nothing substantial getting done, GOP lawmakers are privately exasperated that they don’t have a coherent leader who can help them deliver.
That’s part of what drove Republican Rep. Dave Trott to announce he'd head back to Michigan once his current term ends. Trott stood up at a late July House Republican Conference meeting to complain that the White House was so distracted by the scandal enveloping Anthony Scaramucci at the time that Trump failed to help the Senate pass its Obamacare repeal bill.
Six weeks later, after the health care repeal collapsed in the upper chamber, Trott announced his retirement.
The legislative letdowns under Trump have weighed heavily on House Republicans, said Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent, another Republican who recently announced he won't seek reelection in 2018.
“It’s very difficult to achieve big-ticket items, not to mention just accomplish the basic items of governance — keeping the government open or not defaulting on our obligations — so that’s a source of frustration for me," said Dent, a leader of the faction of Republican moderates.
Dent added: “Congress should take a lot of the blame; but so should the president. The president doesn’t lay down his plans, his ideas, his policies, and he sure as hell didn’t try to sell it to the American people on health care — and that’s a function of leadership. Saying, ‘Send me a bill and I’ll sign it' — that’s not leadership.”
One recently departed House staffer had this to say about the challenges of legislating in the era of Trump: “The job isn't fun anymore. You get beat up in D.C. for everything Trump says or does, only to go home to get beat up for not defending Trump enough by the base. It's brutal.”
Look at these whiny, petulant kids. They have everything they wanted, Congress, the White House, a 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court, almost two-thirds of the states...and they're complaining that they can't get anything done.
So much so that they're quitting in frustration. Why? They see what's coming.
The question is can the Dems capitalize on it? That remains very much up in the air. The Dems are making the kind of candidate moves they need to be at the ground level, but they're also not making the arguments for Democrats at the top level, either.
There's no doubt that GOP voter suppression laws have played a major role in giving the GOP the level of single-party control they have now, and that's only going to get worse in 2018 and 2020, and so far Dems don't seem very interested in fighting back.
If they don't, and immediately, the GOP could still be running the country, only with the retiring crop of Republicans replaced by a new wave of mini-Trumps, interested only in the obliteration of Democrats and their voters. Just because the GOP is about to lose dozens of veteran lawmakers to retirement doesn't mean they'll all be replaced by Democrats.