Top GOP lawmaker announces early exit, leaving Republicans with temporary one-seat majority

Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., chairman of the House select committee on China, announced he’s leaving Congress on April 19, which will temporarily leave House Republicans with just a one-seat majority.

Gallagher revealed in February that he would not be running for a fifth term in the House, a shocking announcement for someone long considered a rising star within the Republican Party.

His early departure will mean that Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., can only afford to lose one GOP lawmaker on any vote that falls along party lines. That will likely remain the case until June, when there’s a special election to replace ex-Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio.

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Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., announced he would be leaving Congress in April, a month after announcing he wouldn’t seek re-election. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

A special election to replace ex-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is set to take place in May. McCarthy’s former seat in California’s 20th Congressional District is a safe red seat, so it’s likely going to give Johnson a GOP win.

Before that, however, is an April 30 special election to replace Rep. Brian Higgins, D-N.Y., a longtime left-wing lawmaker who departed earlier this year. That election will likely see Democrats add to their tally, which would keep the House majority at one seat.

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Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., will temporarily be left with a one-seat majority. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

Republicans keeping McCarthy’s seat and Democrats keeping Higgins’ seat would keep the majority at one, which means the June 11 special election to replace Johnson in Ohio’s 6th Congressional District is the GOP’s first chance to regain some wiggle room.

“After conversations with my family, I have made the decision to resign my position as a member of the House of Representatives for Wisconsin’s Eighth Congressional District, effective April 19, 2024,” Gallagher said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

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“I’ve worked closely with House Republican leadership on this timeline and look forward to seeing Speaker Johnson appoint a new chair to carry out the important mission of the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party. My office will continue to operate and provide constituent services to the Eighth District for the remainder of the term.”

Gallagher announced his departure from Congress just after he experienced blowback from members of his own party for not voting to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Gallagher was one of three Republicans who voted against the measure.

It also prompted a primary threat — multiple outlets reported last month that Alex Bruesewitz, an ally of former President Donald Trump, was considering a challenge to Gallagher.

A special election to replace ex-Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is due for May. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

A source close to Bruesewitz told Fox News Digital on Friday that Bruesewitz is meeting with business leaders in Wisconsin’s 8th Congressional district and is actively being recruited to run for the now open seat. The source said people in Trump’s circle, as well as current House Republicans, are pushing Bruesewitz to run.

“If I run, I will win,” the Trump ally said.

Bruesewitz is planning to announce his final decision the week of April 8, the source said.

The Washington Examiner reported last month that he’s being endorsed by Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.; Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla.; Jim Banks, R-Ind.; and Cory Mills, R-Fla.

Elizabeth Elkind is a politics reporter for Fox News Digital leading coverage of the House of Representatives. Previous digital bylines seen at Daily Mail and CBS News.

Follow on Twitter at @liz_elkind and send tips to [email protected]

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