About half of all senior congressional staffers are mulling an exit: The ‘physical and psychological toll of this place cannot be understated.’

About half of all senior congressional staffers are mulling an exit: The ‘physical and psychological toll of this place cannot be understated.’
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The US Capitol.

  • Congressional dysfunction is not just an issue confined to lawmakers.
  • The Congressional Management Foundation said many senior aides are also eyeing the exit.
  • One GOP aide cited a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude as a problem in Congress right now.

The wave of lawmakers on Capitol Hill calling it quits in recent months — many of them citing entrenched acrimony — has been difficult to ignore as Republicans barely hold on to a razor-thin House majority.

But the gridlock and partisanship that has become commonplace among lawmakers has also taken a toll on senior congressional staffers.

Nearly half of upper-level aides are now eyeing the exits, according to an investigation conducted by the nonprofit Congressional Management Foundation, which seeks to strengthen trust in Congress.

The report says that 48% of senior staffers are considering leaving Capitol Hill due to “heated rhetoric from the other party.”

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The Congressional Management Foundation sent invitations via email to over 2,700 senior staffers in the House and Senate, and 138 staffers chose to participate in the survey.

Among senior staffers surveyed who said they have “somewhat frequently” thought about their departures and believe their own party’s rhetoric was the culprit, 59% were Republicans and 16% were Democrats.

“The ‘my way or the highway’ attitude that certain members of both parties have — and in certain cases combined with an apparent opinion that they alone are fighting for the ‘best’ version of the United States of America — is not beneficial to our constitutional republic,” a Republican House legislative director told the Foundation.

“Dictating is not governing and governing requires compromise, which seems to be more difficult to obtain with recent classes of Representatives,” the legislative director added.

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In the report, Democrats had a much higher level of anxiety than Republicans regarding their safety and that of their congressional colleagues (73% vs. 47%) — a byproduct of harsher political discourse and the January 6 Capitol riot.

While Republicans have largely sought to move on from the events of January 6, Democrats have continued to needle the GOP over the issue and are using the defense of democracy as a key talking point in elections across the country this year.

“The physical and psychological toll of this place cannot be understated,” a Democratic House staff director told the Foundation. “We are in danger as a nation.”

Since the start of the 118th Congress in January 2023, several lawmakers have left the House, including former Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California, former GOP Reps. Ken Buck of Colorado and Bill Johnson of Ohio, and former Democratic Reps. David Cicilline of Rhode Island and Brian Higgins of New York.

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GOP Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, the current chair of the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, is set to leave Congress next month.

Just days before Buck left the House, he criticized the current state of the body, arguing that it “keeps going downhill.”

More than 40 House members have so far opted out of running for reelection this November. Some of them are angling for higher office, while others are retiring.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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