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Number of House Republicans heading for the exits grows to 20 with Thornberry retirement, Collins resignation

Rep. Mac Thornberry (Tex.) is the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

The number of House Republicans forgoing reelection bids next year grew to 20 on Monday, as Rep. Mac Thornberry, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, announced plans to retire and Rep. Chris Collins resigned ahead of an expected guilty plea on insider-trading charges.

Thornberry, a 13-term lawmaker who represents a heavily Republican district in Texas, became the sixth member of the House GOP caucus from his state to announce that he is either retiring, resigning or seeking another office.

Collins, a New York lawmaker who was President Trump’s first congressional supporter, submitted a letter of resignation to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday, a senior Democratic aide said.

Collins, 69, a member of Congress since 2013, is expected to plead guilty to insider-trading charges on Tuesday, following allegations last year that the Republican schemed with his son to avoid significant losses on a biotechnology investment.

In a statement, Thornberry said that “ ‘for everything there is a season,’ and I believe that the time has come for a change.”

If he had sought and won reelection, Thornberry, 61, would have lost his perch as the top Republican on Armed Services because of term limits that the House GOP imposes, restricting its members to three terms as chairmen or ranking member of a committee.

Democrats do not have a similar requirement.

Trump’s takeover of GOP forces many House Republicans to head for the exits

“With over a year to go, I will continue to represent the people of the 13th District to the best of my ability,” Thornberry said in his statement. “Our nation faces many difficult challenges, and none of us can relax our efforts to meet and overcome them, whether at home or around the world.”

Only four Democrats have announced that they will not seek reelection next year, a sign that many in the party expect to retain control of the chamber after the 2020 elections.

In 2018, Thornberry was reelected with nearly 82 percent of the vote, nearly 65 points ahead of his Democratic challenger. Trump carried the district by about 63 points over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

Democrats pounced on Thornberry’s announcement to highlight their party’s investments in the state ahead of next year’s elections.

“A quarter of the Texas House Republican Delegation has now retired — a staggering amount for the largest Republican delegation in Congress,” Texas Democratic Party executive director Manny Garcia said in a statement. “Thornberry retired because he didn’t want to continue to serve in the minority, which he was bound to do again because of the efforts of the Texas Democratic Party, the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] and elected Democratic leaders across the country.”

Since Trump’s inauguration, a Washington Post analysis shows, nearly 40 percent of the 241 Republicans who were in office in January 2017 are gone or are leaving because of election losses, retirements — including former House speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.) — and resignations.

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