The simple explanation for all the Republican retirements: Congress sucks
James Wallner, now a political scientist with the conservative R Street think tank, who was a legislative director under Jeff Sessions and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and former executive director of the Senate Steering Committee under Toomey and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), can personally attest to this.
“When I was there, it was a miserable environment,” Wallner said of both the House and Senate. “The sense of powerlessness was pervasive — everyone feels powerless including the leaders.”
It’s only gotten worse. With only a slim margin of power, a deepening partisan divide between Republicans and Democrats, an ideological rift within the Republican Party, and an extraordinarily unpopular Republican president in Donald Trump — who has an apparent lack of policy knowledge — lawmakers have been left with a lot of “sitting around waiting,” Wallner said.
“These members didn’t sign up to come to DC to legislate peanuts.”
“If you can expect things will get better that can carry you far,” Wallner said, explaining why Democrats seem more intent on staying in Congress. “For Republicans now, there is nothing left to expect.”