More than 30 Republicans have said they plan to retire at yearend, a significantly high level for the party in charge of Congress, the White House and Supreme Court.
Several key policymakers affecting banking are among those exiting, including House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling and Sen. Bob Corker, a top GOP member of the Senate Banking Committee. Another retiring lawmaker, meanwhile, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, could cause a change of leadership of the Senate banking panel as Chairman Mike Crapo may take control of a different committee.
Most observers see the departures as a clear indication that Democrats have momentum
headed into the election. The opposition party typically gains seats in a midterm election year, and President Trump remains widely unpopular, with an approval rating below 40%.
"There are a few factors driving the House retirements," said Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato's Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. "One is the political environment, which seems bad for Republicans, at least at the moment. Even safe-seat members might have an incentive to retire if they believe they will go from the majority to the minority, and swing-seat members may be worried about winning reelection and instead have decided to go out on their own terms."
Such factors appear to have persuaded lawmakers like Reps. Ed Royce and Darrell Issa, both of California, to retire. Both are from districts won by Hillary Clinton in 2016, signaling that Democratic opposition is likely to be strong.
But that is not the situation for Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the Texas Republican who chairs the House Financial Services Committee and whose seat is considered safe. But he was facing the end of his chairmanship due to GOP term restrictions.
"Many of these members are losing their chairmanships and they don’t want to go back to being a rank-and-file member in the majority or, even worse, the minority," Kondik said.
Still others, including Rep. Steve Pearce of New Mexico, are leaving one political office in an effort to gain another.
Following are the key Republicans set to leave at the end of the year.