The balance of power in Congress is neck-and-neck. The smallest change threatens to set off a firestorm.
And Congress went up in flames thanks to this shocking resignation.
The Senate of the United States is barely in the Democrat majority, with 51 left-leaning senators and 49 Republicans.
The House fairs a little better, with 222 Republicans and 213 Democrats.
But even with a slim majority in the House, Republicans can’t afford to lose any votes thank to RINO Republicans who vote with the Left.
Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, announced Wednesday that he will resign from Congress whenever an orderly transition is established.
Stewart, a six-term politician, announced his intention to resign from the House on Wednesday owing to his wife’s sickness. His departure would free a Republican position on the House Appropriations and Intelligence committees, reducing the GOP control to just four seats.
“It has been one of the great honors of my life to serve the good people of Utah in Congress. My wife and I have made so many dear friends and memories throughout our journey. I can say with pride that I have been an effective leader for my beloved home state, and I’m honored to have played an important role in guiding our nation through some troubled times,” Stewart said.
“But my wife’s health concerns have made it necessary that I retire from Congress after an orderly transition can be secured.”
In the event of a vacancy in the House, Utah law requires the governor to call a special election. When Stewart formally resigns, Republican Gov. Spencer Cox will have seven days to schedule a primary and special election.
Unless the state government appropriates funds to organize a separate election, the dates must be the same as the municipal primary and general elections scheduled for this year.
To fill the seat, a Republican candidate is widely preferred. Stewart serves Utah’s 2nd Congressional District, which runs from the Salt Lake City metro region to St. George and is firmly Republican.
Stewart comfortably defeated Democratic candidate Nick Mitchell in the 2022 midterm election, securing re-election with a landslide 63.4% vote share.
However, until there is a special election, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., will have much less leeway in whipping votes. McCarthy can only afford to lose three Republican votes on any given bill if Democrats unite in opposition.
Intra-party squabbles between hard-line conservatives and moderates have already threatened to derail a Republican border security plan this year, and current GOP conflicts over the debt ceiling show that plenty of Republican lawmakers are willing to go against the party line.
Stewart’s departure would also change Utah politics, as he was generally expected to run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, or the governorship. Because of his wife’s illness, such plans would be put on hold, opening up opportunities for other ambitious Republicans.
Stewart, a U.S. Air Force veteran and author, was first elected in 2012 and worked on a biography about her kidnapping with Utah’s Elizabeth Smart. During former President Donald Trump’s administration, Stewart was mentioned as a possible choice for director of national intelligence. The health of Stewart’s wife is unknown.
Stewart’s resignation was initially reported by the Salt Lake Tribune. His departure would be the second in the last six years for a Utah representative to retire early. Former U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz resigned from his position as chairman of the House Oversight Committee in 2017, forcing a special election.
“My family and I have been very blessed by this experience,” Stewart said. “Thank you to all those who have supported and sacrificed to help us. The fight goes on . God bless all of you, and God bless our nation.”
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