Surprise Resignation Of Colorado Rep. Puts House GOP Margin On Knife-Edge

House Republicans’ already tenuous grip on control of the House of Representatives may become even looser following the surprise announcement Tuesday by Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) that he will resign from Congress soon.

Buck told HuffPost he wants to get involved in the 2024 general election and how candidates are selected but gave no concrete plans.

“Everybody I’ve talked to is complaining about the choices they have for president. And it is time that we start talking about how we elect presidents, and how we elect Senators and congressmen and local leaders,” Buck said.

“And I feel very strongly about that. I don’t have an organization to join. I just know in my heart, I want to get involved in this election cycle and work on that issue.”

In his resignation announcement, Buck said he would depart Congress “at the end of next week.”

Buck is a staunch conservative and a member of the hardline House Freedom Caucus, made up of conservative and libertarian House Republicans. But he has also shown a pronounced willingness to defy party leaders and fellow hardliners on some issues.

He was vocal, for example, about opposing the impeachment of President Joe Biden, saying there was not enough evidence he had committed impeachable offenses.

Buck’s resignation would leave House Republicans with just 218 members, compared to 213 Democrats and what would be four open seats. That would mean the GOP could lose only two members and still retain the 216 votes needed to win floor votes if all members vote.

While Buck had announced he was not running for reelection and was known for being willing to take sometimes lonely stances within his party, the announcement came as a surprise on Capitol Hill.

“I was surprised by Ken’s announcement. I look forward to talking to him about that,” House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) told a reporter for Punchbowl News.

Democrats, who are bullish on their chances for taking back control of the House in the fall, were heartened by the news.

“Just give us the majority for the rest of the year. Good grief,” said one Democratic strategist.

Given the ebb and flow of illness, family obligations and other reasons members of the House may miss votes on a weekly basis, Republicans will be even further pressed to keep their grip on the House floor.

The GOP majority without Buck would be the smallest since the 72nd Congress, when Republicans won 218 seats on Election Day in 1930 compared to the Democrats’ 216. But with 14 members-elect dying before the new Congress met, Democrats won enough special elections to take control once the House convened.

Republicans already have relied on Democratic votes to help pass the first package in a pair of big spending bills keeping the government open through September and are expected to have to do so again for another bill that needs to be passed by March 22.

Buck’s quick resignation also may cause a headache for Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), who is running to replace him after bowing out of running in her current congressional district. Because Buck would create a vacancy more than 90 days before the general election, a special election to succeed him would be called under Colorado law. That would mean Boebert would have to run in that race or risk running against an incumbent with a few months tenure in November.

As for the possibility that his early absence could hamper Republican efforts to pass bills and resolutions, Buck brushed it off.

“I’m actually helping them in some ways, because I’m not gonna vote against more impeachments,” Buck said.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.