Rep. Ken Buck says he will not serve out rest of term, narrowing GOP majority

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) said Tuesday that he will not serve out the rest of his term and will vacate his seat in Congress at the end of next week, further narrowing an already razor-thin House Republican majority.

“I look forward to staying involved in our political process, as well as spending more time in Colorado and with my family,” Buck said in a brief statement.

Buck had said in November that he would not seek reelection to another term, but his announcement Tuesday that he will depart Congress so soon was a surprise — including to House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.).

“I was surprised by Ken’s announcement,” Johnson told reporters Tuesday. “I’m looking forward to talking with him about that.”

Once Buck departs, Republicans will outnumber Democrats 218 to 213 in the House. That means Republicans can afford to lose only two votes to pass legislation along party lines when everyone is attending and voting.

Buck’s resignation will create a vacancy in Colorado’s 4th Congressional District, which he has represented since 2015. The district covers much of the eastern half of the state and favors Republicans.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) said he plans to call a June 25 special election to fill Buck’s seat. Polis said the date will “minimize taxpayer cost” because the state is scheduled to hold primaries that day. The parties will pick their nominees beforehand using special conventions or committees.

Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Colorado Republican who currently represents the more competitive 3rd District, announced in December that she will seek reelection in the 4th District. Former president Donald Trump recently endorsed her for the new district, but she still faces several other Republicans in the primary.

Buck has clashed with the majority of the Republican conference in recent months, notably for opposing his party’s launch of an impeachment inquiry into President Biden. In a September op-ed for The Washington Post, Buck criticized the inquiry as one that relied “on an imagined history.”

Buck was also one of eight Republican lawmakers who voted with Democrats to oust Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) from the speakership.

Asked on CNN on Tuesday about the work environment in Congress, Buck minced no words, calling it “dysfunctional” and declaring that it had been the worst year of his nearly 10 years in the institution.

“We’ve taken impeachment and we’ve made it a social media issue as opposed to a constitutional concept,” Buck told reporters Tuesday. “This place just keeps going downhill, and I don’t need to spend my time here.”

Buck said he did not have plans yet for what he will do after leaving Congress but wanted to “get involved in this election cycle” and change how the country elects its leader. He said he was not running for president.

In announcing his retirement from Congress last year, Buck expressed disappointment that many fellow Republicans continue to push the lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

“Our nation is on a collision course with reality, and a steadfast commitment to truth, even uncomfortable truths, is the only way forward,” Buck said then. “Too many Republican leaders are lying to America.”

Buck also cited Republicans’ downplaying the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, in which a pro-Trump mob sought to stop the certification of Biden’s electoral win, as well as the GOP’s claims that the ensuing prosecutions amounted to a weaponization of the justice system.

“These insidious narratives breed widespread cynicism and erode Americans’ confidence in the rule of law,” Buck said. “It is impossible for the Republican Party to confront our problems and offer a course correction for the future while being obsessively fixated on retribution and vengeance for contrived injustices of the past.”

Before his time in Congress, Buck chaired the Colorado GOP and was a district attorney in the state.

Buck’s departure will mean there are four vacant seats in the House for at least a few weeks.

On April 30, New York will hold a special election to replace former representative Brian Higgins (D), who resigned his Buffalo-area seat in February. On May 21, California will hold a special election to replace former House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R). On June 11, Ohio will hold a special election to replace former representative Bill Johnson (R).

Paul Kane and Jacqueline Alemany contributed to this report.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post