Rep. Adam Kinzinger bid farewell to his time in Congress, attacking his own party on his way out for what he called its growing extremism.
The Illinois Republican and vocal Trump critic painted his party as becoming an ideologically inflexible camp of extremists who have justified political violence.
“The once-great party of Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Reagan has turned its back on the ideals of liberty and self governance,” Mr. Kinzinger said Thursday on the House floor. “Instead, it has embraced lies and deceit. The Republican Party used to believe in a big tent which welcomed the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Now, we shelter the ignorant, the racists, who only stoke anger and hatred to those who are different than us.”
Mr. Kinzinger opted out of running for reelection, facing a probable primary defeat over his vote to impeach former President Donald Trump over the 2021 U.S. Capitol riot.
The congressman, who spent a decade serving in the House, is also one of two Republicans serving on the House Select Committee investigating the riot. Rep. Liz Cheney, Wyoming Republican and Trump foe who lost her primary, is his other GOP colleague.
Mr. Kinzinger also attacked the Democratic Party for its strategy of boosting such candidates in GOP primaries, in order to gain an advantage in the general election.
“They poured millions of dollars into the campaigns of MAGA Republicans: the same candidates President Biden called a national security threat,” Mr. Kinzinger said. “This is no longer ‘politics as usual.’ This is not a game. If you keep stoking the fire, you can’t point the fingers when our great experiment goes up in flames.”
Mr. Kinzinger has become a pariah in his party over his rejection of Mr. Trump. The lawmaker, however, defended his actions in office.
“Had I known that standing up for truth would cost me my job, friendships, and even my personal security, I would — without hesitation — do it all over again,” Mr. Kinzinger said. “I can rest easy at night knowing that I fulfilled my oath to the office. I know many in this institution cannot do the same.”
Mr. Kinzinger will join the rest of his colleagues on the Jan. 6 panel next week to unveil its final report in one of his last actions in Congress.