Welcome To Republican Disarray, 2023
Updated: Jan 5
Tomorrow, Kevin McCarthy has to must 218 votes to reach his lifelong dream— and get start the 118th Congress. Since there are 222 Republicans in Congress, this should be easy. LOL! Sure. At least 5, but probably double that, Republican extremists are in the #NeverKevin camp. They want fellow-extremist Gym Jordan for speaker and view McCarthy as too process-driven and not ideologically pure enough. So what happens next? To be honest, I always thought the fascist-fringe would just hold out long enough to squeeze every possible concession out of him and then go along with their conference at the last minute. It’s the last minute and McCarthy has given in on every single one of their demands. And they’re still not happy! Last night, 9 fascists— Scott Perry (PA), Paul Gosar (AZ), Chip Roy (TX), Andrew Clyde (GA), Andy Harris (MD), Dan Bishop (NC), Eli Crane (AZ), Anna Paulina Luna (FL) and Andy Ogles (TN)— said they want more concessions for their votes but none of them are even among the #NeverKevin hardcore.
Reporting for the NY Times this morning, Brendan Buck offers the specter of a failure to elect a speaker on the first ballot and sees the House descending “into a floor fight unprecedented in modern times.” This has only happened once since the Civil War, exactly 100 years ago, when it took 9 ballots— and 3 days— for the Republicans to re-elect Frederick Gillett speaker (who immediately afterwards declared his candidacy for the U.S. Senate).
“Electing a speaker,” wrote Buck, is a responsibility given the House by the Constitution. Allowing the process to unravel into chaos would diminish the entire body and destroy Americans’ confidence in the new Congress… [A] self-serving power play by a small group of Republicans threatens to make a mockery of the institution and further cement the notion that the party is not prepared to lead. A failed vote would badly weaken McCarthy or whoever the new speaker will be. The House is a majoritarian institution, and a speaker’s power is ultimately derived from the ability to produce the 218 votes needed to do business. If Republicans are unable to muster the votes for a speaker, it will make very clear from the outset they cannot be counted on to fulfill the body’s basic responsibilities, such as funding the government or preventing a credit default by lifting the debt ceiling, both of which will be required later this year.”
The good news is that Congress can’t do anything until after a Speaker is chosen. The draconian new right-wing rules McCarthy has agreed to can’t be implemented and the horrible new freshmen— like George Santos (R-Russia), Eli Crain (R-AZ), Derrick Van Orden (R-WI), Anna Paulina Lunatica (R-FL), Maxwell Frost (D-FL), Andy Ogles (R-TN), Jared Moskowitz (D-FL), Don Davis (D-NC), Robert Garcia (D-CA), Mike Ezell (R-MS) and Ryan Zinke (R-MT)— can’t be sworn in.
Punchbowl News is warning that if McCarthy isn’t elected “expect outright war between the middle of the conference and the 10 or so conservatives who blocked him from capturing the gavel… [T]he anti-McCarthy faction has won pretty much every change they’ve sought, yet they still refuse to back McCarthy.
Most notably, McCarthy has reversed direction on his vow that he’d never change the “motion to vacate,” the procedure under which a speaker can be removed from office. Under the new proposal, any five Republicans can force a vote on replacing the speaker at any time. Currently, only a party leader can offer this motion. McCarthy’s decision essentially guarantees that he will face the same constant threat from his right as former Speakers John Boehner and Paul Ryan labored under. McCarthy, however, needed to make this offer, which shows how serious his predicament is.
McCarthy also released a letter indicating that he was striving for ideological balance on committees. That means you will see some conservatives on prime panels such as Appropriations, Ways and Means and Financial Services.
“In short, I will work with everyone in our party to build conservative consensus and translate that consensus into action,” McCarthy wrote.
Other big changes include: No more proxy voting; no “virtual” or “hybrid” committee hearings; magnetometers outside the House chamber will be removed, and potential fines for mask or security protocol violations are gone; the “Holman Rule” is back, meaning Republicans can zero out spending on certain executive-branch offices they don’t like; and all bills will be posted for 72 hours before a final vote.
Along with a select committee on competing with China, House Republicans will create a special panel to investigate “Weaponization of the Federal Government.” This is aimed at the FBI, Justice Department and other federal agencies that Republicans complain have been used by the Biden administration to go after political enemies.
But despite all that, nine House Republicans released a letter Sunday complaining “Mr. McCarthy’s statement comes almost impossibly late to address continued deficiencies ahead of the opening of the 118th Congress.” Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), one of the signees, tweeted “Nothing changes when nothing changes, and that must start from the top. Time to make the change or get out of the way.” This letter infuriated McCarthy’s allies, as they believe they have met every single one of Perry’s demands.
Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan also issued a score sheet for those watching the key Republicans who could flip for or against McCarthy. Montana fascists Matt Rosendale and Ryan Zinke both want to run for Jon Tester’s Senate seat next year 2024. Rosendale is one of the FascistFive opposing McCarthy and Zinke wants to be seen as more mainstream and will back McCarthy. Voting against McCarthy may be good in a primary but bad with Republican donors and terrible in a general election.
Former Ted Cruz chief of staff Chip Roy has been very negative about McCarthy but he wrote many of the rules changes that went through and he’s now seen as someone who will vote for him. Ralph Norman (SC) has always been the weak link in the FacsistFive and will be the easiest of them for McCarthy to buy off with some goodie. Sherman and Bresnahan wonder how many freshmen besides Anna Paulina Lunatica (FL) want to start their congressional careers as hard core extremists. Probably not many when push comes to shove.
Rachael Bade, Eugene Daniels and Ryan Lizza summed it up for early morning Politico readers by reminding them that “Seven years after his last, failed bid for the speakership, Kevin McCarthy’s dreams of wielding the gavel are again in peril. Despite years of political contortions aimed at winning over his critics on the far right, with just over 24 hours left until the critical floor vote, the California Republican’s math problem is getting worse, not better… We caught up Sunday with one of the GOP fence-sitters, a member who has been in the room for these negotiations. And he told us that some of these undecided members won’t support McCarthy— even if he gives them everything they want. ‘The problem is people don’t trust Kevin McCarthy and a number won’t vote for him. Those are just the facts,’ this lawmaker told us. ‘The list [of demands] that we offered was not for guaranteed support but rather the kinds of things that might move some of his detractors.’… McCarthy’s doubters are preparing to deflect blame for the morass onto the GOP leader himself. ‘[McCarthy] failed to produce the kind of majority to make us irrelevant,’ this member said. ‘He’d like it to be our problem; it’s his problem. The real question should be: Why is he dragging the country and the Congress through this?’ McCarthy’s strategy of squeezing the holdouts with attacks from high-profile conservatives on one side and threats from moderates to gang up with Democrats on the other, have backfired. The threats were simply not credible, the member said: ‘Pressuring people and threatening people is never a good idea.’ The doubters are already talking to GOP centrists about a unity candidate. ‘You have to be responsible and say, Well if he’s not going to get the votes, what alternatives are out there?’ the member said, citing conversations with members of the Republican Governance Group (formerly the Tuesday Group). There’s no agreement at this point; centrist members continue to adamantly support McCarthy. But the fact that these lines of communication are open is notable.”
Trump has been notably unable to deliver for McCarthy and it looks like the only one who could would be Gym Jordan. There’s some talk about another Denny Hastert-Tom Delay situation, where Hastert was speaker in name but Delay called the shots. The irony is that back then Hastert was the wrestling coach raping underage boys and this time it is Jordan who was the wrestling coach allowing his staff to rape underage boys. These Republicans are so whacky! Bade, Daniels and Lizza wrote that one McCarthy ally told them that “Jordan’s support has been instrumental in giving him cover back home. ‘I’m in a very conservative district. They say, Why are you voting for Kevin?’ the lawmaker said. ‘I say, Well, Jim Jordan is voting for McCarthy. And then they back off.’”
This morning, Virginia fascist Bob Good told told Fox & Friends that “There’s nothing that indicates to me that [McCarthy’s] going to change his patterns since he’s been in leadership, where he’s part of the swamp cartel” and that he’ll never vote for him to become speaker. McConnell and Biden are appearing together today in Kentucky while Good races that “There’s nothing about Kevin McCarthy that indicates that he will bring the change that’s needed to Washington or that’s needed to the Congress or bring the fight against the Biden-Schumer agenda and represent the interest of the voters who sent us to Washington to bring real change.” Expect a day of chaos tomorrow. I wish I could send every DWT reader a box of popcorn.