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Mike Gallagher
Rep. Mike Gallagher’s resignation will leave House Speaker Mike Johnson in a particularly tough spot. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Mike Gallagher Is Leaving a Congress in Chaos. His Colleagues Wish He Wouldn’t.

The Wisconsin Republican is resigning from the House in just a few days, leaving the House GOP with an even slimmer majority.

Rep. Mike Gallagher is leaving the House too late for Wisconsin to hold a special election to replace him, and his fellow Republicans aren’t thrilled.

“I wouldn’t have made the same decision,” Rep. Derrick Van Orden said. “Does that mean we throw tomatoes at each other? No. But If I had planned to retire, I wouldn’t have made the same decision on time that he did.”

Gallagher was initially planning to resign on Friday but now expects to stay until after votes Saturday on foreign aid. Once he’s gone, House Speaker Mike Johnson will have a margin of error of a single vote. And the seat won’t be filled until January — the deadline for Wisconsin to hold a special election to temporarily fill it was the first Tuesday of April.

Last month, Georgia’s Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene called for Gallagher’s expulsion, criticizing Johnson for not forcing an earlier departure so the seat could be filled in a special election.

“Mike Gallagher betrayed all of us,” she told The Hill. “Any strong Republican speaker of the House would expel a member for leaving our razor-thin majority in such a delicate, delicate state.”

Gallagher’s fellow Wisconsin Republicans aren’t going quite so far. But they know his departure makes the math even tougher for House Republicans.

“I mean, it’s difficult now. We have a small, small majority, but he obviously made a decision for his family,” Rep. Bryan Steil said.

“I wish Mike was going to be staying through this Congress,” Rep. Scott Fitzgerald said. “I wish he was staying beyond that. But I understand. It’s kind of a personal decision more than anything.”

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Gallagher’s office did not respond to a request for comment this week, but a spokesperson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last month that House leadership “had been aware of his plans for weeks and approved the timeline.”

“I think [Gallagher] discussed it with Republican leadership. And I think if that’s true, they must have had their own reasons for wanting him to delay his exit,” Rep. Glenn Grothman said.

Most members who spoke to NOTUS said they’d not discussed the decision with Gallagher before or after he announced his retirement. Steil said they’d not spoken “in any detail”; Grothman said they’d had “mild discussion.”

“He decided what is best for him and his family, and I don’t second guess that. It’s his choice. And he always has to answer to his constituents in regards to that,” Rep. Tom Tiffany said. He added, “Mike keeps a very close counsel.”

Tiffany’s keeping an optimistic view of the thin majority House Republicans are holding.

“We’ll truck on here in the Congress of the United States, and we’re gonna get a couple seats back here in the next couple of months,” he said. “We’re gonna have some reinforcements coming in, hopefully.”

Nuha Dolby is a NOTUS reporter and an Allbritton Journalism Institute fellow.