GOP leaders urge ‘adrenaline junkies’ within the ranks to pause adventurous activities during slim majority

While Republicans hold the majority in the House of Representatives, it is only by a slim number.

And that 217-212 majority can easily be shifted by even the temporary absence of just a handful of lawmakers. In an effort to keep representatives from being sidelined when critical votes are needed, GOP leaders have reportedly been exhorting their colleagues to forego some of their extracurricular activities.

A new report in The Wall Street Journal noted that leaders like Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) are concerned over “adrenaline junkies in the Republican conference embracing extreme sports in their free time.”

Emmer is in charge of headcount and assembling the GOP members for votes in the lower chamber and recently gave Rep. James Comer (R., Ky.) a “talking to” after the 51-year-old had an accident while on a Wyoming mountain biking trail.

“I suggested that maybe you don’t want to do that kind of stuff,” Emmer told Comer who reportedly “a wrong turn onto an advanced trail sent him flying, leaving him with blood streaming down his cheeks from a cut above his eyebrow.”

The Kentucky lawmaker said, “I agreed with him.”

The concerns about injuries are not without merit as many of the GOP caucus have sported injuries in their pursuits of adventure.

According to the WSJ:

Since the congressional session began in January 2023, various Republicans have missed votes due to injuries and illnesses. Rep. Hal Rogers (R., Ky.), 86, was out after a car accident, while Rep. Greg Steube (R., Fla.), 45, was hospitalized after falling off a ladder at his home.

GOP Rep. Frank Lucas, a 64-year-old Oklahoma rancher, says he has been “more cautious about all things cattle” after winding up on the wrong side of a stray bull that wandered onto his ranch last fall, leaving him with a broken hip. “We all have to be more careful.”

Even routine sports can pack a punch, as seen when Rep. Bob Latta (R., Ohio), 68 years old, was wheeled into a recent House vote with his foot in a boot, courtesy of a pickleball mishap. His spokesman said it “will not impede his ability to dutifully serve and represent his constituents.”

 

Amid the many stories shared in the WSJ piece, it was revealed that a group of about a dozen Republicans are planning to mark D-Day’s 80th anniversary in June by parachuting from a World War II-era plane onto the beaches of Normandy.

“Everything is vintage except the parachutes are new,” Rep. Mike Waltz (R., Fla.), said.

Waltz, who served as a Green Beret, also scuba dives and surfs in his Florida hometown. The skydiving group includes 55-year-old Rep. Rich McCormick (R., Ga.), an ER doctor and a former “American Gladiator” contestant who says, “You can’t change who you are because of the job you have.”

“Business as usual,” said 62-year-old Rep. Troy Balderson (R., Ohio), who is fond of off-road motorcycle racing. The good Lord’s over me.”

Rep. Rudy Yakym (R., Ind.) sent Emmer a message in January after he went skydiving.

“Don’t worry, Tom. Your whip count is still safe,” he reportedly wrote.

“For Yakym, skydiving to celebrate his 40th birthday was part of what he called a personal mission to desensitize himself from things that scare him,” the WSJ report noted.

“Part of it’s daredevil tendencies,” he said. “But more than that, it is a desire to have no fear. It’s much deeper than that.”

Frieda Powers

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