The Republican majority in the House of Representatives will decline to just two seats after the departure of Republican Rep. Bill Johnson of Ohio, whose resignation was announced on Tuesday.
House Republicans’ four-seat majority declined by two members over the month of December following the expulsion of George Santos and the resignation of former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy from the chamber. Johnson’s departure, which he announced in November, will bring the number of Republicans in the chamber to 219, which is just one member more than the 218 seats in a full House that a party needs for a majority.
Johnson resigned with an effective resignation date of Jan. 21 to take up the role of president of Youngstown State University in Ohio, according to The Vindicator. “With his contract indicating he would start prior to March 15, we are excited to have him on campus earlier than anticipated,” wrote the university’s chairman of the board of trustees, Michael Peterson.
The vacancies in the chamber will need to be filled by special elections, which have been called in both Santos and McCarthy’s former districts. Johnson represents Ohio’s 6th Congressional District, which has a partisan lean of R+16, according to the Cook Partisan Voting Index.
The House Republican Conference’s ideological divisions, amid a slim majority, proved to be an inhibition on much legislative action in 2023 after some Republicans withheld their support on key votes or joined Democrats to oppose a majority of the party. This included both the election and ousting of McCarthy from the speakership as well as votes on several appropriations bills, which were withdrawn from the House floor in November.
At present, following Santos and McCarthy’s departures, the total number of members is 433, which means that measures require 217 votes to pass the House. This number will remain constant following Johnson’s departure.
It remains unclear when a special election will be held in Johnson’s district. Republican Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio, who is empowered by the U.S. Constitution to call a special election in the district upon a vacancy, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.