Dozens of Members to Leave Congress This Year, Several Point to Dysfunction

WASHINGTON, D.C. — If you think Congress is dysfunctional, you’re not alone. 

The 118th Congress is one of the most unproductive in decades, leading many lawmakers, especially in the House, headed for the doors. At the conclusion of the 118th Congress later this year, nearly 50 House members will have called it quits. 

As to why they’re leaving, responses vary from retirement to running for a different office. However, an overall theme surrounding many of the departures is a shared frustration with the recent dysfunction in Congress. 

The 118th Congress has been riddled with an unprecedented ouster of a Speaker of the House, a historic 15-ballot race for a new Speaker, spending disagreements, and even the rare expulsion of a member. Needless to say, division and gridlock have become common. 

Now, dozens of House Democrats and House Republicans, including powerful and experienced committee chairs, are calling it quits. Experts say younger, more partisan candidates, are part of the reason some moderate and more seasoned members are heading for the doors. 

“A lot of these, really idiosyncratic, individualistic members of Congress who are younger really rode the wave of being anti-establishment. And now they’re forcing out people who are part of the establishment,” said Dr. Todd Belt, Professor and Director of the Political Management Master’s Program at George Washington University. 

Belt predicts efficiency will become less common in Congress as moderate and experienced members dwindle.

“These are people who have a lot of experience on how to get things done. I see that as making Congress even less efficient in the long run,” said Belt. 

Among the many reasons lawmakers are leaving the halls of Congress, Belt says there’s a concerning one that stands out. 

“There has been a tremendous uptick on threats on members of Congress and their families ever since the January 6 insurrection. And a lot of people just don’t want to have to deal with that,” said Belt. 

Only 39 bills and resolutions have become law at this point in the 118th Congress—the lowest since 1973.  

Seven U.S. Senators are also leaving office. Some are retiring, others are running for a different position.