Republican Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, a hardline conservative who has clashed with his own party at times, announced on Tuesday that he will leave Congress at the end of next week.

Buck criticized dysfunction on Capitol Hill in discussing his decision to leave, telling CNN’s Dana Bash, “It is the worst year of the nine years and three months that I’ve been in Congress and having talked to former members, it’s the worst year in 40, 50 years to be in Congress. But I’m leaving because I think there’s a job to do out there.”

“This place has just devolved into this bickering and nonsense and not really doing the job for the American people,” he said.

The Colorado Republican’s departure from the House will shake up the chamber’s partisan breakdown, where Republicans control only a very narrow majority – a major challenge for Speaker Mike Johnson who has frequently been forced to rely on votes from Democrats as well as Republicans to get major pieces of legislation across the finish line.

Buck’s decision to step down before the end of his term will trim Republicans’ slim edge to 218 seats over 213 for Democrats, with three vacancies. With that breakdown, Republicans could only afford to lose two votes to pass legislation on a party-line vote.

Pressed by Bash on whether Donald Trump’s status as the presumptive GOP nominee influenced his decision, Buck said, “Whether he was the nominee or not, I think our system is broken in how we choose candidates and I want to get involved in that process.”

“Everywhere I go in Colorado, Dana, I hear that people are not happy with Trump and they’re not happy with (President Joe) Biden,” Buck said. “I am going to find the right organization to join and I’m going to start working on that issue. We have to have better candidates up and down the ballot.”

Buck announced last year that he would not seek reelection, citing stagnation in Congress and his party’s election denialism as factors in his decision to not run in 2024.

Buck, a former prosecutor with the Department of Justice, was first elected to Congress in 2014.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

CNN’s Jack Forrest contributed to this report.


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