Congress, As Only Congress Can

#dysfunction | #WhatTheyVotedFor

A reflection of the U.S. Capitol, 17 February 2012. (Detail of photo by Kevin LaMarque/Reuters)

This is what it is—

At last count, one member has stepped down for health reasons (Mississippi’s Thad Cochran), one member resigned to seek a statewide office (California’s Xavier Becerra), four members gave up their seats to serve in the Trump administration (Georgia’s Tom Price, South Carolina’s Mick Mulvaney, Kansas’ Mike Pompeo, and Montana’s Ryan Zinke), five resigned under a cloud of scandal (Arizona’s Trent Franks, Michigan’s John Conyers, Pennsylvania’s Tim Murphy, Minnesota’s Al Franken, and Texas’ Blake Farenthold), and two stepped down because they didn’t feel like being in Congress anymore (Ohio’s Pat Tiberi and Utah’s Jason Chaffetz).

A recent FiveThirtyEight analysis noted, “If that feels like a lot, that’s because it is; it’s the most people who have resigned from Congress through this point in the session in at least 117 years.”


—but does not account for three U.S. Senators and thirty-three Members of Congress who are simply not running for any office, nor nineteen leaving their House seats in search of statewide office.

Congressional dysfunction is what it is. Still, it seems significant that we might be able to consider the possibility that Congress is now too dysfunctional for Congress; to be certain, one sometimes wonders if maybe that was the point, because if we suggest it is absolutely ridiculous that Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC04) would pick up the banner of complaining about Congressional inefficacy and not having much to show for his time in the House, then it should probably stand out as significant that he is, in fact, Trey Gowdy; at some point, it seems like dysfunction is the point.


Image note: A reflection of the U.S. Capitol, 17 February 2012. (Detail of photo by Kevin LaMarque/Reuters)

Ballotpedia. “List of U.S. Congress incumbents who are not running for re-election in 2018”. 6 April 2018.

Benen, Steve. “Texas Republican resigns, increases historic resignation count”. msnbc. 9 April 2018.

Matthews, Chris. “Matthews: GOP Congressmen only criticize Trump when they retire”. Hardball. msnbc. 6 April 2018.

Rakich, Nathaniel. “We’ve Never Seen Congressional Resignations Like This Before”. FiveThirtyEight. 29 January 2018.

Treene, Alayna. “Trey Gowdy says being in Congress was largely a waste of time”. Axios. 6 April 2018.

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