Republican Senator Ben Sasse officially resigns and vacates a seat nomination

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Senator Ben Sasse, R-Neb., an outspoken critic of former President Donald Trump, officially resigned from the Senate on Sunday as he prepares to return to academia as president of the University of Florida.

Sasse, who led Midland University, a small private college in his home state, tendered his resignation before running for the Senate last month, saying he would leave office Jan. 8 — two years into his second term. .

In farewell remarks last week, Sasse criticized the body he has been a member of since 2015, saying, “This institution is not working very well at the moment.”

“Each of us knows we need to look in the mirror and recognize that lives in a politicized echo chamber are unworthy of a place that calls itself a deliberative body, let alone the world’s largest deliberative body,” he said.

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“If we’re being honest with each other, which usually means in one of the very rare cases where no cameras are present, we all know that a lot of the performative screaming that happens here and in every hearing room just gets overbooked for even more performative screaming on TV at night,” he said.

Sasse’s departure opens the seat for a Nebraska Gov nomination. Jim Pills, a Republican. The previous governor, Republican Pete Ricketts, has said he would seek the nomination.

As a senator, Sasse was a conservative Chinese hawk who supported the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and opposed same-sex marriage after abstaining in November on landmark legislation codifying same-sex marriage rights. He served in President George W. Bush’s administration as assistant secretary of health and human services and was first elected to the Senate in 2014.

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NBC News reported last year that he was expected to take a job leading the University of Florida. The university’s board of trustees approved Sasse as the school’s next president, despite vocal opposition from some faculty and students.

Sasse regularly voiced grievances with Trump, as well as his supporters in the Republican Party. When Trump ran for re-election in 2020, Sasse chided him, saying he “kisses the buttocks of dictators,” “flirts with white supremacists,” denigrates women, “mocks evangelicals behind closed doors,” and “treats the presidency like a business opportunity.”

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Sasse was one of seven Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for a second time after the January 6 attack on the Capitol. He blamed Trump for intimidating election officials and repeatedly making unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.

“Those lies had consequences, they endangered the vice president’s life and brought us dangerously close to a bloody constitutional crisis,” Sasse said at the time. “Each of these actions are violations of a president’s oath of office.”

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com