In an interview last week with the Wall Street Journal, Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) had some less than complimentary things to say about his former friend Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). He said that McCarthy “would come to us, ‘Oh I’ve got to do this so I can control the crazies.’ He’ll be the worst speaker and he won’t last because he’s going to be led around by insurrectionists.’” Kinzinger is a mainstream Republican but many of the MAGA-extremists (“the crazies”) agree with him about McCarthy. Both Marjorie Traitor Greene (Q-GA) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) see McCarthy as the same kind of shabby puppet to ambition that Kinzinger does. Both have said that if he doesn’t take orders from the MAGA wing of the party, he’ll be out on his ear— just the way John Boehner and Paul Ryan were when they tried straying from the increasingly fascist dogma of the GOP. Gaetz told the same WSJ reporter that “Kevin is not bridled by too many policy views. His organizing principle is ambition.” Yesterday Gaetz celebrated on Twitter when McCarthy’s mainstream candidate in New Hampshire, Matt Mowers, was defeated by a MAGA extremist, Karoline Leavitt.
So, Republican civil wars… do they matter? Shouldn’t we just hope that they all destroy each other. Sure, but… The but is that Congress actually has to get a few things done to keep the country functioning. The Traitor Greene/Gaetz crazies don’t want to do that. And they’re not going to accept McCarthy going along. So… unless he thinks he’s going to get Democrats on board, there’s a very good chance that if the Republicans take the House majority— and I’d say there’s a 50-50 chance that they will— Congress will quickly become mired in ugly deadlock.
Look what happened today when Pelosi and McCarthy both agreed on 4 bills that shouldn’t have been controversial at all. First up was H.R. 884, the National Aviation Preparedness Plan Act, which simple “directs the Department of Transportation to develop a national aviation preparedness plan for communicable disease outbreaks, including to require that frontline at-risk employees are equipped with appropriate personal protective equipment to reduce the likelihood of exposure to a communicable disease that has the potential to cause an epidemic or pandemic of infectious disease that would constitute a public health emergency of international concern (i.e., a covered communicable disease).” How could anyone in their right mind be against it? And, in fact 75 Republicans, including not just Kinzinger but also McCarthy and Stefanik, voted with all the Democrats in favor. But that left 133 Republicans against it, not just Traitor Greene and Gaetz and their gang but also Republicans who McCarthy depends on like Steve Scalise (LA), Tom Emmer (MN), Virginia Foxx (NC), Mike Bost (IL), Ann Wagner (MO), Kay Granger (TX), Jake Ellzey (TX), David Joyce (OH), Bryan Steil (WI), Blaine Luetkemyer (MO)… Dozens of them abandoned McCarthy.
Next up was H.R. 5774, the Expediting Disaster Recovery Act, which “authorizes the President, after the declaration of a major disaster, to direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide assistance necessary for meeting unmet needs as a result of such disaster.” Since so many Republicans have experienced that in their own districts almost all of them went along with it. Almost. There were still some crackpot extremists, 14 of them, who voted no, like Scott Perry (PA), Andy Biggs (AZ), Mo Brooks (AL), Matt Rosendale (MT), Jody Hice (GA), Bob Good (VA)…
The third simple bill of the day, which has already passed the Senate, the Civilian Reservist Emergency Workforce Act which “makes employment protections under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act applicable to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reservists who deploy to major disaster and emergency sites.” How much do you have to hate workers to vote no? Although 168 Republicans voted with all the Democrats on this, there were still 38 MAGA extremists who threw their hats in with Traitor Greene. (Gaetz had a terrible case of diarrhea and spent most of the day sitting on the toilet and not voting.) But all the usual suspects showed up in the no column: Louie Gohmert (TX), Lauren Boebert (CO), Scott Perry (PA), Barry Loudermilk (GA), Bruce Babin (TX), Andrew Clyde (GA), Paul Gosar (AZ), Andy Biggs (AZ), Michael Cloud (TX), Mary Miller (IL), Bob Good (VA), Matt Rosendale (MT)… You get the picture.
Last bill of the day, also passed by the Senate, was the Bright Act— S. 442— which “expands requirements relating to the procurement and use of energy-efficient lighting in federal buildings.” And once again, even though 129 Republicans joined McCarthy to support this, Gang-Greene expanded to 78 certifiably insane people, even Gaetz getting off the toilet for 5 minutes to vote before running back.
Will McCarthy have a solid enough majority if the GOP takes the House to be a partner in governing? Not a chance. Many of his erstwhile allies see the trouble the MAGA grassroots can cause anyone who steps out of line and they’re trembling in their loafers. And too many of the Republicans who have won primaries are far more loyal to Traitor-Greene and the MAGA extremism she stands for than they are to Kevin McCarthy and what he represents, from nuts like the two winners from New Hampshire Tuesday night— Karoline Leavitt (who publicly called McCarthy a RINO) and Robert Burns— to crackpots like J.R. Majewski (OH), Anna Paulina Luna (FL), Max Miller (OH), Joe Kent (WA), Ryan Zinke (MT), Russell Fry(SC), Zach Nunn (IA), Mayra Flores (TX), Bo Hines (NC), Monica de la Cruz (TX), Erik Aadland (CO), Eli Crane (AZ), Derrick Van Orden (WI), Jim Bognet (PA), John Gibbs (MI), Wesley Hunt (TX), Madison Gesiotto Gilbert (OH)…