As a new Congress prepares to take over, here are the Republicans we're happiest to say 'good riddance' to.
Voters flocked to the polls in 2018 to usher in a new Democratic House majority, which also meant kicking dozens of Republicans to the curb.
There's a lot to look forward to in the new Democratic-led Congress, from bold new reforms to tough new oversight over the Trump administration.
Another thing to look forward to is that several of the worst Republicans in Congress will finally, finally, be out of office.
As preparations continue for the new Congress, we wanted to wish an especially un-fond farewell to these six terrible Republican lawmakers:
Speaker Paul Ryan's tenure as leader of the Republican Party is likely one of the most colossal failures in congressional history. The far-right Freedom Caucus fringe ran roughshod over Ryan, who repeatedly proved himself too weak a leader to corral his caucus around significant pieces of legislation.
While the House passed a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, it never made it out of the Senate — and ultimately helped doom the re-election chances of dozens of House Republicans who were swept out of office in the midterms.
Voters were furious that the GOP even tried to push a bill that would have left more than 20 million people without access to health insurance, and that would have decimated protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions.
Ryan did manage to pass a deficit-busting tax scam, which handed Wall Street banks record profits but did almost nothing for regular families. Ryan made himself a laughingstock for weeks after he tried to brag about a secretary who would receive a measly extra $1.50 per week.
Through it all, Ryan never had the backbone to stand up to Trump's childish antics or blatant racism. When Pelosi takes back over as Speaker, Ryan's disastrous congressional career will finally, thankfully, be over.
Before coming to Congress, Issa faced allegations that he was involved in an arson plot related to his California business.
Somehow, his time in Congress was worse.
Issa rose to prominence as head of the House Oversight Committee during President Obama's tenure — and wasted millions of taxpayer dollars using this powerful position to chase phony scandals, including false allegations that the IRS targeted conservative groups.
His antics and irresponsible bloviating were too much even for his own party, which proceeded to set up a separate committee to look into the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi — which took jurisdiction on the issue away from Issa, and which Issa was not happy about.
For much of 2017, protesters gathered regularly outside Issa's local California office to call attention to his terrible votes on issues like health care. Rather than meet with his own constituents, Issa once actually fled to the roof of the building.
And rather than face an electorate likely to fire him, Issa opted to announce his retirement in January 2018. And his seat was one of the seven that Republicans lost in California — a fitting end to his embarrassing congressional career.
In 30 years in Congress, Rohrabacher managed to get a total of three pieces of legislation passed into law.
He was useless to his constituents — but he did manage to earn himself the nickname of "Putin's favorite congressman" because he was so overly friendly to Russia.
Rohrabacher relentlessly defended Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, even if it meant calling the men and women who work for U.S. intelligence agencies liars.
Rohrabacher also embraced Trump and parroted Trump's anti-immigrant racism. He even advocated discrimination against LGBTQ individuals during his last election.
Incapable of losing with class, Rohrabacher blamed his loss to Democrat Harley Rouda on "bolshevik billionaires."
Rohrabacher's fellow California Republican and soon-to-be Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy once said he thought two U.S. politicians were on Putin's payroll: Rohrabacher and Trump.
Maybe Putin can save a few rubles now that Rohrabacher isn't returning to Congress.
There are bad people, and there are bad members of Congress. Trey Gowdy is both.
Gowdy has been one of the most feckless and ineffective members of Congress this country has ever seen. He was a waste of space even by his own admission, telling Vice, "I don't have a lot to show for the last seven years."
Gowdy's time as chair of the House Oversight Committee was a series of missteps and bungled hearings.
His one claim to fame is wasting more than two years and $8 million in taxpayer funds on a failed quest to blame Hillary Clinton for the tragic deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya.
The fiasco concluded soon after Clinton's epic 11-hour testimony, during which she made Gowdy and other Republicans on the panel look like fools.
Gowdy, who says he is retiring to go back to being an attorney, is an embarrassment to his home state of South Carolina, and Congress will be a better place the further he is from it.
Few people are leaving Congress with less of their integrity intact than Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona.
Flake was widely mocked as the leader of the Furrowed Brow Caucus: Republicans in Congress who feign concern over Trump's reprehensible words and deeds, but still wholeheartedly back the Trump agenda. Even after Flake decided not to run for re-election, he never took meaningful action to stop Trump or Trumpism.
Flake's most infamous flake came when Trump nominated alleged attempted rapist Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Flake, who claimed to be moved by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's story of being assaulted by Kavanaugh in high school and by the stories of other survivors, hemmed and hawed over Kavanaugh's nomination. He even tried to make it look like he was doing something by demanding an extremely limited FBI "investigation" into the matter.
But in the end, Flake shrugged off survivors and gave his full support to Kavanaugh — helping Republicans put their second accused sexual predator on the Supreme Court, 27 years after Clarence Thomas.
Sen. Dean Heller was relentlessly mocked over the course of the 2018 campaign as a spineless Trump lackey — mostly because he was, in fact, a spineless Trump lackey.
Heller viciously betrayed Nevadans on health care, and they punished him for that betrayal in November by replacing him with Democrat Jacky Rosen.
At first, Heller publicly opposed the GOP scheme to rip health care away from millions of families and jack up health care costs for individuals with pre-existing conditions.
But Heller eventually kowtowed to the will of Trump, turning his back on voters and supporting the GOP's awful plan.
Heller hasn't announced his post-election plans. His moral flexibility should open plenty of unsavory doors for him — but hopefully his next job won't include the power to make life-or-death decisions for millions of Americans.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.