McCarthy's Not A RINO, He's A SINO...Speaker In Name Only-- Crackpot Matt Gaetz Is Calling The Shots
Thursday night Matt Gaetz crowed that “The House has really abandoned the McCarthy CR strategy today and has embraced the Matt Gaetz strategy of single subject spending bills.” On Friday, Politico reported that Gaetz could take a bow as the architect of the House GOP’s newest legislative strategy. How? First Gaetz lured McCarthy into believing he could get the rule for the Pentagon spending bill passed by withdrawing Ralph Norman and Ken Buck from the opponents gaggle. But it was a trap. When McCarthy felt he had it in the bag, hardcore Gaetz allies Marjorie Traitor Greene (GA) and Eli Crane (AZ) stabbed McCarthy in the back defeating the resolution. But, reported Politico, “Within two hours of this humiliating defeat, at the nadir of McCarthy’s awful week, a surprising visitor showed up at his office: Gaetz. He had a plan. In another closed-door meeting, Gaetz huddled with a larger group of Republicans, including some moderates, and pitched them on the same idea. Gaetz had spent the week proving to McCarthy that the speaker could not pass a continuing resolution to keep the government temporarily open, no matter how much the speaker refashioned it to appease the hard right. ‘#NOCR’ has become a rallying cry for Gaetz and his crew that has hardened as a government shutdown approaches.”
Making things worse for McCarthy was the fact that the never-CR Republicans and the no-on-the-rule Republicans are actually slightly different groups (though the former has more members). In fact, Gaetz voted for the rule for the Defense bill on both Tuesday and Thursday.
But the rule votes increased McCarthy’s desperation and strengthened his chief antagonist. “This opportunity has come to pass only because a handful of us had the stones to take down the defense approps rule today,” Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) said last night.
Gaetz told his Republican colleagues that McCarthy should bring single subject appropriations bills to the floor one at a time. He dictated his list of the first four: Defense, Homeland Security, State-Foreign Operations, and the Agriculture-FDA bill.
A few hours later, the Rules Committee put out notice that it would be taking up four bills today at 1 p.m.: Defense, Homeland Security, State-Foreign Operations, and the Agriculture-FDA bill.
What Gaetz Fears: The premise of the Gaetz plan is to kill what he calls governing by CR. It assumes a government shutdown is inevitable. And instead of using a hard-right CR as the House’s opening move in negotiations with the Senate, the (lengthy) floor debates on the House GOP-crafted appropriations bills will serve that purpose.
Gaetz has a surprising partner in this plan: Rep. Marc Molinaro, a New York [mainstream conservative] who is one of the 18 House Republicans representing a district carried by Joe Biden. Molinaro has been involved in various attempts to solve the shutdown crisis this week, including the bipartisan effort to use a discharge petition to force a vote on a CR. “It is absolutely an option,” he told NBC News yesterday even as he worked with Gaetz on the plan to kill the CR.
Now that his strategy has prevailed, Gaetz said last night that he sees one serious obstacle to keeping it on course and preventing a return to the CR.
“The threat is that five liberal or moderate Republicans say, ‘We don’t want to do the single subject bills,’” he said on the podcast last night. “So we’re just going to go sign what’s called a discharge petition and then just move that thing like shit through a goose.”
Since the Gaetz strategy assumes a shutdown, we suspect that Gaetz is right that there will be a backlash against this plan from plenty of House Republicans as the shutdown approaches and that the discharge petition will start to look like an increasingly appealing option. After all, McCarthy himself noted this week that his rebels have already crossed two of the three major red lines for a member of the House majority: (1) voting against the speaker candidate approved by a majority of the conference and (2) voting against a rule. He suggested that it may be inevitable that the third red line will soon be crossed: supporting a discharge petition.
…If you squint hard, you might see a possible scenario in which McCarthy allows a week to be wasted on the Gaetz plan but then— bowing to pressure from the Senate, the public and his own conference— passes the Senate CR with a bipartisan vote at the last minute or after a short shutdown. Of course, McCarthy passing any CR is an outcome that Gaetz and others have promised would trigger a motion to vacate.
And to survive a motion to vacate, McCarthy would need Democratic votes and, according to minority whip Katherine Clark, would have to agree to several conditions: living up to the funding agreement he made with Biden, agreeing to disaster aid for states, supporting aid to Ukraine and ending the sham Biden impeachment. That would lose him most of the Republican conference… so absolutely untenable. I assume Clark (and Hakeem Jeffries) will make that list a lot easier for McCarthy to swallow if it comes to that.
Trump isn’t going to accept anything but a shutdown anyway and he has enough congress members in his pocket to get what he wants. Speaking of whom… ABC News reported that Trump’s hold on Republican voters is very strong but his hold on Republican-leaning independent voters is not. Geoffrey Shelley wrote that “past Republican presidential primaries have demonstrated that independent voters can make up a significant chunk of the electorate in early voting states and, if their preferences differ markedly from Republicans, can influence outcomes… Earlier this month, Quinnipiac found Trump pulling in 67 percent of Republicans, compared with 47 percent of GOP leaners. And across national surveys conducted since Aug. 1 with available crosstab data, we usually saw a meaningful gap in support for Trump between Republicans and independents.”
It’s not going to matter at all when it comes to the Republican primary. But if these Republican-leaning independents desert Republican congressional candidates— by not showing up at the polls in the general— control of the House easily flips to the Democrats as David Schweikert (AZ), Juan Ciscomani (AZ), John Duarte (CA), David Valadao (CA), Mike Garcia (CA), Young Kim (CA), Ken Calvert (CA), Michelle Steel (CA), Lauren Boebert (CO), Laurel Lee (FL), Maria Salazar (FL), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA), Zach Nunn (IA), Bill Huizenga (MI), John James (MI), Don Bacon (NE), Jeff Van Drew (NJ), Tom Kean (NJ), Nick LaLota (NY), Andrew Garbarino (NY), whomever the GOP runs instead of George Santos, Anthony D’Esposito (NY), Mike Lawler, (NY), Marc Molinaro (NY), Brandon Williams (NY), Mike Turner (OH), Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA), Scott Perry (PA), Nancy Mace (SC), Andy Ogles (TN), Monica De La Cruz (TX), Tony Gonzales (TX), Rob Wittman (VA), Jen Kiggans (VA), Brian Steil (WI) and Derrick Van Orden (WI) see their political careers crater. Andthat’s just the low hanging fruit. There are at least a dozen others who would be in real jeopardy.