This Is Why The Country Seems To Be Falling Apart-- Or Is Falling Apart
In his Bloomberg column early this morning-- in which he asserted that Republican radicals are constantly looking for ways to differentiate themselves from the party’s mainstream but "can’t do it on policy because the party is already extremely conservative, so they wind up looking for procedural maneuvers-- shutting down the government, for example-- even if there’s no point to it"-- Jonathan Bernstein quoted Georgetown congressional scholar Josh Huder:
This is legitimately insane. These kinds of punishments are normally reserved for gross misconduct or extreme betrayals of party.
Voting for an infrastructure bill is neither of those things. I'd be very surprised if this develops further. But the fact it is being discussed at all is bananas. Try to overthrow your speaker? Assignments might be in jeopardy. Blatant corruption? Assignments might be in jeopardy. Drunk drive your car into the Potomac with an adult entertainer? Assignments might be in jeopardy.
Vote for an infrastructure bill? That's a Tuesday.
"As everyone noted after the news broke, 19 Senate Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, voted for the bill in August; support for it wasn’t some fringe position within the party when it cleared Congress last week. And indeed, as Jonathan Chait points out, the perceived problem with the bill wasn’t the substance. It’s that it was a 'Democratic bill," despite being written by an equal number of Senate Republicans and conservative Senate Democrats (no progressives allowed anywhere near it). The dysfunction comes in when Republican electeds become petrified of being tagged a RINO, which is now defined as anyone who doesn't agree with Trump on anything, no matter how destructive or insane or patently untrue.
Last night, the NY Post reported that Trump ripped 13 congressional Republicans who backed the infrastructure bill "during a lengthy speech Monday-- while one of them, New York Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, listened from the audience. Malliotakis appeared visibly shaken as Trump railed against her and other Republican House members during the National Republican Congressional Committee dinner... The freshman congresswoman and a dozen other Republicans pushed the infrastructure bill to approval Friday in a 228-206 vote after some Democratic Party infighting that threatened to sink the plan. The Senate-approved bill had six Democrats voting no-- meaning Republicans would’ve killed the measure if the caucus voted no in unison.The bill cleared the Senate in August and it has been repeatedly defended by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Trump rival. The Chamber of Commerce has also defended the bill. But some Republicans in the House have sided with Trump in their criticisms of other members of the caucus who voted yes on the bill, with calls to shake up leadership posts as a punishment. Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz is calling for the ouster of Rep. John Katko of New York from the House Homeland Security Committee for his yes vote on the bill."
Yesterday, PunchBowl News reported on the drama inside the chaotic GOP caucus. Their point is that GOP leadership is bracing for rank-and-file-- meaning Marjorie Traitor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Madison Cawthorn and Matt Gaetz-- lawmakers to "attempt to strip committee assignments from the 13 Republican lawmakers who voted for the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill." Writing for NBCNews.com this morning, Jonathan Allen noted that it's purge o'clock again in the GOP.
House Republicans aren't rushing to ostracize Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, who publicly posted a video of an animated version of himself killing a Democratic colleague and attacking President Joe Biden.
Instead, their fury is aimed at 13 GOP colleagues who voted with most Democrats-- and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)-- for Biden's $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. At the exact moment that Democrats largely unified, the Republican fracture over fealty to former President Donald Trump revealed itself anew.
Trump called the recalcitrants "RINOs"-- Republicans in name only-- after last week's House vote, saying they should be "ashamed of themselves" for supporting "Democrat longevity." And one of his chief allies is calling for vengeance.
The question for "our conference is whether or not we will allow people to be designated as Republican leaders on major committees and subcommittees while they fight for the Joe Biden agenda and against the America First agenda," Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said on NewsMax. "If that isn't cleaned up, if that isn't corrected, then the current Republican minority you see in the House might not be ready to earn the majority."
...These potential sanctions differ in degree, but share a purpose: to intimidate Republicans from stepping off the party line, as drawn by Trump.
While GOP leaders can't remove rank-and-file lawmakers from their committees-- that's technically the purview of the full Democratic-majority House and Speaker Nancy Pelosi-- the political bloodlust sends another unmistakable message that Republican elected officials are subject to punishment if they put their constituents' interests ahead of their loyalty to Trump.
It also shines a bright light on divisions within the party at a time when Republican leaders would prefer to present a unified front against Biden's agenda and cast Democrats as disorderly.
"History has a funny way of repeating itself, and, unfortunately, members haven't learned from mistakes of the past," said one former House GOP leadership aide. "The circular firing squad benefits nobody but the other side."
...[S]eeking to punish members for their votes on policy-- to take away their constituents' voice in the legislative process-- is an indication that some Republicans see public service as secondary to Trump service.
There was no purge after the putsch attempt in January. Instead, the House GOP has sought to protect rank-and-file members and Trump allies who supported the effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election results by lie, by vote or by force.
Besides, the biggest stick belongs to Trump, not the House Republican conference. Already this year, Reps. Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio, and Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., have announced they won't seek re-election following Trump tirades against them. It was clear they couldn't win renomination with Trump bashing them. Cheney is seeking re-election, and Trump is pressing Wyoming Republicans to oust her.
No one in the House GOP has that kind of veto power over who can successfully seek office as a Republican.
GOP aides said they had not heard yet of any concerted effort to exact specific retribution against the 13 lawmakers, but the House Freedom Caucus — which includes Trump's closest allies in the House — is scheduled to have its regular meeting in Washington on Monday. House Republican leaders will probably find out the following morning during the full Republican Conference meeting whether lawmakers are just frustrated with their colleagues or bent on seeking vengeance.
"Republicans will get together and meet in conference next week and talk about things concerning the conference and how we go forward against Democrats' plans," said one senior House GOP aide. "We'll start there and go on from there."
The most legislatively and politically immature Republicans-- again, Marjorie Traitor Greene, Boebert, Cawthorn, Gaetz (always eager too change the subject away from sex trafficking minors) and sociopaths like Paul Gosar (who also has a little problem he wants people to not focus on)-- see Congress as a team blood sport, not as an opportunity to get anything done for the American people. Unfortunately, their constituents are of the same Fox-created mindset. End of the line for America?