Rep. Rodney Alexander, a six-term Republican from Louisiana, said Tuesday that he will step down at the end of his term due to congressional gridlock.
Wednesday afternoon, Alexander announced that he accepted a position as head of the Louisiana's Department on Veteran Affairs, which requires him to leave Congress at the end of September instead of finishing his term.
The move will trigger a special election for Alexander’s seat, which is widely expected to go to another Republican. Alexander also left the door open for a possible run for the governor’s office in 2015.
"Rather than producing tangible solutions to better this nation, partisan posturing has created a legislative standstill. Unfortunately, I do not foresee this environment to change anytime soon,” Alexander said in his statement.
It’s a stark condemnation of the state of politics from a member of the House’s majority party. But it’s not unexpected—Congress is, by the numbers, more unproductive than it has been in decades; it’s unclear if a budget will pass Congress before October, which would leave the government without any money. The House barely passed a Farm Bill, while a gun control bill supported by 90% of Americans couldn’t even make it out of the Senate.
Alexander was particularly outspoken about the House’s handling of the Farm Bill after House Republicans shocked party leadership by voting against the farm bill 234-195.
The move was “shocking” and "a devastating blow to the agriculture industry," he said at the time.
The House eventually passed a farm bill—albeit one that stripped food stamp for the first time in decades. Although he criticized the bill, Alexander still voted yes.
Alexander isn’t the first to leave over frustration. Maine Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe said that she left over similar reasons and wrote a book, Fighting for Common Ground: How We Can Fix the Stalemate in Congress, about how to end the gridlock.
On last week’s Morning Joe, Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, slammed the partisan stalemate.
“We are a mess, I call it the kindergarten in Washington,” the Oklahoma Republican said in a particularly harsh diatribe against D.C. “We really lack leadership and what we have is selfish desires for political power, rather than thoughtful consideration about what’s in the best interest of our country as a whole.”
Alexander was elected to his seat as a Democrat in 2002, but he switched parties during his first term in 2004.