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MADISON, Wis. 鈥 U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, a key Republican congressman from Wisconsin who has spearheaded House pushback against the Chinese government, announced Saturday that he won鈥檛 run for a fifth term. The announcement comes just days after he angered his fellow Republicans by refusing to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., speaks to reporters after Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., the GOP whip, dropped out of the speaker race, at the Capitol in Washington on Tuesday, Oct. 24. J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press file

The GOP has been looking to oust Mayorkas as a way to punish the Biden administration over its handling of the U.S.-Mexico border. A House impeachment vote Tuesday fell just one vote short. Gallagher was one of three Republicans who opposed impeachment. His fellow Republicans surrounded him on the House floor in an attempt to change his mind, but he refused to change his vote.

Record numbers of people have been arriving at the southern border as they flee countries around the globe. Many claim asylum and end up in U.S. cities that are ill-prepared to provide for them while they await court proceedings. The issue is a potent line of attack for Donald Trump as he works toward defeating President Biden in November鈥檚 elections.

Gallagher wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published after the vote that impeachment wouldn鈥檛 stop migrants from crossing the border and would set a precedent that could be used against future Republican administrations. But the impeachment vote鈥檚 failure was a major setback for the GOP. Wisconsin Republicans began mulling this week whether Gallagher should face a primary challenger.

Gallagher did not mention the impeachment vote in a statement announcing his retirement, saying only that he doesn鈥檛 want to grow old in Washington.

鈥淭he Framers intended citizens to serve in Congress for a season and then return to their private lives,鈥 Gallagher said. 鈥淓lectoral politics was never supposed to be a career and, trust me, Congress is no place to grow old. And so, with a heavy heart, I have decided not to run for re-election.鈥

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Voicemails that the Associated Press left at his offices in Washington and Wisconsin on Saturday weren鈥檛 immediately returned.

Gallagher, a former Marine who grew up in Green Bay, has represented northeastern Wisconsin in Congress since 2017. He spent last year leading a new House committee dedicated to countering China. During the committee鈥檚 first hearing, he framed the competition between the U.S. and China as 鈥渁n existential struggle over what life will look like in the 21st century.鈥

Tensions between the two countries have been high for years, with both sides enacting tariffs on imports during Trump鈥檚 term as president. China鈥檚 opaque response to COVID-19, aggression toward Taiwan and the discovery of a possible spy balloon floating across the U.S. last year have only intensified lawmakers鈥 intent to do more to block the Chinese government.

Chinese officials have lashed out at the committee, accusing its members of bias and maintaining a Cold War mentality.

Gallagher was considering a run for U.S. Senate this year against incumbent Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin. But he abandoned the idea in June and said then that he wanted to focus on countering China through the committee.

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