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Ken Buck’s retirement creates more chaos in House GOP

Ken Buck is fed up.

The Republican lawmaker from Eastern Colorado had already announced (last November) that he would retire from Congress at the end of his term. But apparently that’s not near enough.

On Tuesday, he suddenly surprised many on Capitol Hill, especially his fellow Republicans, by speeding up his timetable. He is now retiring from Congress at the end of next week.

But why this rush? In statements and interviews, the thoughtful Buck has made it pretty clear that he’s fed up with the dysfunction that drags lawmakers into debates over team loyalty rather than solving problems.

He acknowledges that the congestion is not new, but it is getting worse.

“The nine years I’ve been in Congress was the worst year in three months,” he said in a conversation with CNN’s Dana Bash, adding that “when I talk to former members, it’s the worst year in the last 40, 50.” Years to be in Congress….

“This place has turned into this bickering and nonsense and it’s not really doing the job for the American people.”

Amen, congressman. Preach!

Forgive my excitement, but I couldn’t help but join in. By all accounts, Buck seems like a liberated man, finally free from the constraints of a political world that has increasingly turned to feuds, factionalism, and theater rather than workable solutions.

He was quick to point out that the problems were not limited to just one side. But in the age of former President Donald Trump’s MAGA movement, that has become increasingly difficult, especially for those who dare to violate the ever-changing standards of loyalty emanating from Trump himself.

Buck knows. As a member of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus, he could be seen as a member of a privileged class in the Trump era. But he is known for frequently leaving his party over headline-grabbing issues, particularly those raised by the Trump-loyal MAGA wing.

He criticized his fellow Republicans for repeating Trump’s baseless claims that the 2020 election was stolen. He dared to express skepticism about Republicans’ claims to have found evidence that President Joe Biden committed an impeachable crime. He was one of three House Republicans who voted against impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, citing a lack of evidence against him.

In other words, he allowed the absence of facts to get in the way of following what his fellow partisans thought was a good story or a good party line.

As a result, despite his many years of service, including staff work with then-Rep. There were not many tears shed in GOP circles over the early retirement of Dick Cheney, who was on the committee investigating the Iran-Contra affair. But there are concerns among House GOP leaders about how they will navigate an ever-shrinking and already narrow majority as they try to run the chamber.

Buck’s departure would leave a House in which Republicans outnumber Democrats 218-213; That means House Speaker Mike Johnson can only afford to lose two votes to pass legislation along party lines. This is increasingly forcing Johnson to turn to Democrats to pass must-pass legislation, such as the bill preventing a recent federal government shutdown.

Back home in Colorado, Buck’s departure creates a vacancy in the 4th Congressional District seat. His sudden retirement upends Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert’s plans to run for election next term in Buck’s 4th district rather than her own 3rd District. The open seat means the district must elect a representative to complete Buck’s term on June 25, while district Republican voters simultaneously vote for Buck’s successor in the primary.

The highly controversial Boebert, who has upset 3rd District voters to the point that she thought it was a better idea to run in the 4th, criticized Buck’s sudden retirement as a “swampy backroom deal” but said she would run in the 4th District primary. While continuing to serve in the 3rd Region. I understand?

If nothing else, if Buck succeeds in ending Boebert’s congressional career, it would be one last true act of service to the American people.

Yes, as Ken Buck might say, congressional politics isn’t what it used to be. But they never cease to be surprising.

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