A Republican congressman who broke with his party colleagues and refused to vote to impeach Democratic homeland security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is retiring from his elected office, he announced Saturday.
The announcement from Wisconsin representative Mike Gallagher that he won’t run for a fifth term means his time spearheading the US House’s pushback against the Chinese government will come to an end in early 2025.
Gallagher’s refusal to impeach Mayorkas drew anger from his fellow Republicans, who have been looking to oust Joe Biden’s homeland security secretary as a way to punish the president over his administration’s handling of the US-Mexico border crisis.
A House impeachment vote Tuesday fell just one vote short. Gallagher was one of three Republicans who opposed impeachment.
His fellow Republicans surrounded him on the House floor in an attempt to change his mind, but he refused to switch his vote.
Record numbers of people have been arriving at the southern border as they flee countries around the globe. Many claim asylum and end up in US cities that are ill-prepared to provide for them while they await court proceedings. The issue is a potent line of attack for Donald Trump as he works toward retaking the presidency from Biden in November’s elections.
Gallagher wrote in a Wall Street Journal opinion column published after the vote that impeachment wouldn’t stop migrants from crossing the border and would set a precedent that could be used against future Republican administrations. But the impeachment vote’s failure was a major setback for Republicans.
Party officials in Wisconsin in recent days mulled whether Gallagher should face a primary challenger.
Gallagher did not mention the impeachment vote in a statement announcing his retirement, saying only that he doesn’t want to grow old in Washington.
“Electoral politics was never supposed to be a career and, trust me, Congress is no place to grow old,” Gallagher said. “And so, with a heavy heart, I have decided not to run for re-election.”
He told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the backlash over the impeachment vote did not play a role in his decision.
“I feel, honestly, like people get it, and they can accept the fact that they don’t have to agree with you 100%,” he told the newspaper, adding later in the interview: “The news cycle is so short that I just don’t think that stuff lasts.”
Gallagher, a former Marine who grew up in Green Bay, has represented north-eastern Wisconsin in Congress since 2017. He spent last year leading a new House committee dedicated to countering China.
During the committee’s first hearing, he framed the competition between the US and China as “an existential struggle over what life will look like in the 21st century”.
Tensions between the US and China have been high for years. Both sides enacted tariffs on imports during Trump’s presidency. Beijing’s opaque response to Covid-19, aggression toward Taiwan and the discovery of a possible spy balloon floating across the US only intensified lawmakers’ intent to do more to block China’s government.
Gallagher was one of the highest-profile Republicans considering a run for the US Senate this year against incumbent Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin. But he abandoned the idea in June, saying he wanted to focus on China during his fourth term in Congress.
The Associated Press contributed reporting
Source: US Politics - theguardian.com