John Conyers made Paul Ryan’s job passing tax reform just a little bit easier by leaving Congress immediately.
The exit means the Michigan Democrat won’t be around to cast a vote against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which Republicans hope to bring up for final passage in the next few weeks.
Before Conyers’ departure, there were 434 members of the House of Representative, thanks to the earlier resignation of Tim Murphy, the Pennsylvania Republican who stepped down after it was reported that he had encouraged a mistress to get an abortion.
With that many members voting, it would take 218 votes to pass legislation.
With only 433 voting, 217 votes is a majority. So, Conyers’ departure means Ryan would have an extra margin of one vote.
The House version of the bill passed in November with 227 votes.
But the vote could be even harder when the bill comes back from conference having been changed to reflect Senate Republicans’ priorities.
And while the bill is unlikely to pass by just one vote, the fact that one less vote is needed means that House GOP leaders will be more free to let one vote go, and less pressured to make concessions to bring an extra lawmaker on board to pad the total.