Former Bush adviser joining Ways and Means Committee in key staff role
GOP lawmaker Tim Murphy to resign
Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) will resign later this month following a report this week suggesting that he urged a woman with whom he was having an affair to have an abortion.
Murphy had originally announced Wednesday night that he would not seek reelection and serve out the rest of his term through 2018.
But he will now resign from the House effective Oct. 21, rather than linger for more than a year following the scandal.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) confirmed that he received a letter of resignation from Murphy on Thursday.
"We thank him for his many years of tireless work on mental health issues here in Congress and his service to the country as a naval reserve officer," Ryan said in a statement.
Less than 10 minutes before his office released the statement, Ryan was asked at a press conference whether he thought Murphy should resign or serve out the rest of his term.
"I have spoken with Tim quite a bit the last couple of days. I think it's appropriate that he moves onto the next chapter of his life and I think he agrees with that," Ryan said at a Maryland manufacturing facility.
Murphy did not show up to any House votes on Thursday to adopt a budget for 2018 paving the way for tax reform. He did, however, cast a vote Tuesday on legislation to ban abortions after 20 weeks shortly after the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's story about his leaked text messages posted.
The Post-Gazette reported Tuesday that a text message sent to Murphy from Shannon Edwards, a forensic psychologist with whom the lawmaker was having an affair, suggested that Murphy had urged the woman to have an abortion amid a pregnancy scare.
"And you have zero issue posting your pro-life stance all over the place when you had no issue asking me to abort our unborn child just last week when we thought that was one of the options," the text message from Edwards read.
Murphy replied: "I get what you say about my March for life messages. I've never written them. Staff does them. I read them and winced. I told staff don't write any more. I will."
Murphy admitted to the affair in September.
Murphy, a member of the House Pro-Life Caucus, has received support from the Family Research Council and was endorsed by the pro-life political action committee LifePAC.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette also revealed that Murphy's chief of staff had written a six-page memo documenting a toxic work environment the lawmaker created for his employees. The memo said Murphy's "hostile, erratic, unstable, angry, aggressive and abusive behavior" resulted in an "inability to hire and retain competent staff" and "abysmal office morale."
Before the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's report this week, Murphy was best known in recent years for his work on mental health reform. His legislation, titled the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, was included in a medical innovation bill that passed Congress late last year.
Murphy's bill, among other provisions, increased the number of psychiatric hospital beds and provided grants to train police officers and first responders to how to recognize mental illness.
He introduced the original version in response to the 2013 mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., but it had been delayed for years due to objections from lawmakers in both parties. Republicans had pointed to Murphy's proposal as an example of the party's response to gun violence.
Even Ryan pointed to Murphy's bill on Tuesday, before the Pittsburgh Post Gazette's story posted, when asked about how Republicans would respond to the mass shooting in Las Vegas.
Murphy's southwestern Pennsylvania district, near Pittsburgh, is considered a GOP stronghold that's unlikely to flip to Democrats in the special election to replace him. President Trump won the district by 20 points in 2016.
Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a statement that "the circumstances surrounding this situation are extremely disappointing to me" but predicted Murphy's seat would remain in the GOP column.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokeswoman Meredith Kelly acknowledged in a statement that Murphy's district is "a reliable Republican stronghold."
"[B]ut the grassroots energy behind Democrats has proven powerful this year, and we will be closely tracking this district and special election," Kelly added.
Updated 5:02 p.m.