Freedom Caucus member quits House after complaining Congress is ‘so broken’

Republican Rep. Mark Green, who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, unexpectedly announced Wednesday that he would retire after just three terms representing Tennessee's 7th District.

Green, a hardliner who rose to national infamy in 2017 after Donald Trump tried to name him secretary of the Army, was eligible under GOP rules to serve two more terms as the top Republican on this powerful panel, which makes his departure all the more surprising. But he explained his decision by emphasizing his dissatisfaction with Congress.

"There's also just the frustration of trying to get something done here," he told Axios. "This place is so broken, and making a difference here is just you know, just it feels like a lot of something for nothing." Green is a member of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, which has played a central role in fomenting dysfunction on Capitol Hill.

Whoever replaces Green, though, likely won't be much different. His constituency, which includes western Nashville as well as nearby suburbs and further-flung rural areas, backed Donald Trump 56-41, so the winner of the Aug. 1 Republican primary will be the favorite to succeed him. The candidate filing deadline is April 4.

Green, who served as an Army medic in the 2003 mission that led to Saddam Hussein's capture, was elected to the state Senate in 2012 by unseating Democratic incumbent Tim Barnes 53-47 as Mitt Romney was taking his seat 55-44.

Once in office, Green spent his time attacking Muslims and LGBTQ+ people. He declared in 2016, "If you poll the psychiatrists, they're going to tell you transgender is a disease."

And in a speech to tea partiers the following year that soon became infamous, the senator said that he would "not tolerate" teaching the "pillars of Islam" in textbooks. He also specifically told an attendee who raised fears of armed violence from people who "don't belong here, like Muslims in the United States" that he'd asked a "great question."

Green launched a bid for governor in 2017, but he dropped out a few months later, after Trump nominated him to become the Army's top civilian official. However, Green's history of ugly rhetoric was too much for even the Republican-led Senate, and he had to withdraw his nomination.

The episode was anything but a career-ender, though. Green soon entered the race to replace Rep. Marsha Blackburn after she kicked off what would prove to be a successful Senate campaign, and no one ended up opposing him in the primary for her safely red House seat.

After easily winning the general election, the incoming congressman once made the sort of news he'd become known for by advancing a conspiracy theory claiming that the Centers for Disease Control was hiding data on a link between vaccines and autism.

Even before he was sworn in, the new congressman-elect began considering a bid to succeed retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander around that same time, but he ultimately decided to stay put. Green, who exchanged messages with then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows about overturning the 2020 election in the months after Joe Biden won, never had trouble winning reelection.

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