The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Squabbling Over McCarthy, GOP Caucus Still In Comical Disarray

Rep. Andy Biggs

Youtube Screenshot

The vote counting is finally all done, and House Republicans have a tiny majority of 222 seats, with Democrats holding 213. This means GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy can only afford to lose four votes in his bid to be Speaker of the House, and there are already five who insist they will oppose him. The chance that he could scrap together a majority with help from Democrats is vanishingly small. The chance that more than one or two Democrats would be willing to help any Republican out of this mess is pretty much nil. They’re going to have to bail their own damned selves out.

The new Democratic leader, Hakeem Jeffries (NY), made that clear on ABC’s This Week Sunday. “Well, we have to organize on our side and be prepared to hit the ground running on Jan. 3,” Jeffries said. “They have to organize on their side, and we’ll see what happens.” Host George Stephanopoulos asked whether Democrats would work to help find a speaker who might be “willing to compromise.”

“I wouldn’t say that it’s a possibility,” Jeffries answered. “Right now, Democrats are preparing to get ourselves ready as we transition temporarily from the majority into the minority. I think the question right now is what other Republicans are going to do. From our standpoint, we know what our mission is.”

That’s absolutely the question. That and this: “The question on the other side of the aisle is: What will Republicans do? Are they gonna double and triple down on the extremism that we’ve seen from people like Marjorie Taylor Greene? That would be unfortunate,” he said.

So it’s a game of chicken between the Freedom Caucus maniacs and McCarthy, who more or less has the rest of the conference with him. McCarthy says he’s sticking to it, no matter how many votes it takes (the record is 133 ballots, and two months). The maniacs are so intent on doing this they actually did their homework, meeting with the House parliamentarian last week to learn about the floor rules and procedures for the speakership vote. They are insisting that they’ll come up with another candidate—that mystery celebrity guest star to be named later. They’ve reportedly tried to recruit Reps. Steve Scalise (LA), Jim Jordan (OH), and Tom Emmer (MN), all of whom have absolutely no interest in doing the job.

They’re keeping hope alive, however, those maniacs. “There’s quality candidates who represent the conservative center of the Republican conference who are privately acknowledging that once it becomes clear it’s not going to Kevin McCarthy, they are interested in becoming speaker,” said Rep. Bob Good (VA), who is one of the “hard no” votes against McCarthy. “And there are members who would excite the base, who would excite Republicans across the country, unite Republicans across the country as candidates, but they’re not going to raise their hand publicly until it’s clear to them that it’s not Kevin McCarthy.”

Maybe at ballot number 134? Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), who through his hat in the ring last month, only to have it thrown back out by the GOP caucus, is not backing down on his opposition. He told CNN that McCarthy doesn’t have to have that floor fight. “He can avoid it now,” Biggs said. “He doesn’t have the votes. We can move to different candidates. I’m willing to entertain anyone else.” No one besides Biggs seems to want the job. All the not maniacal Republicans seem pretty good with sticking McCarthy with the job, since he wants it so badly.

Those guys, some of whom are in the Republican Governance Group, wrote a letter to the whole caucus Friday, asking the hardliners to stand down. “Such quarrels will only delay our ability to establish a working majority in the People’s House, which is critically important to successfully countering a Democrat-controlled Senate and Executive Branch,” they wrote. “But make no mistake, we will not allow this conference to be dragged down a path to a paralyzed House that weakens our hard-fought majority.”

McCarthy took that message to the one place where he could be sure the Freedom jerks would hear it: Fox News. On “Sunday Morning Futures” with host Maria Bartiromo, McCarthy pled for unity and an end to the squabble. “Right now, it’s actually delaying our ability to govern as we go,” McCarthy said. “So I’m hopeful that everybody comes together, finds a way to govern together. This is what the American people want. Otherwise, we will be squandering this majority.”

“If people don’t come along, that’s going to delay our ability to secure the border,” McCarthy said. “That’s going to delay our ability to become energy independent. That’s going to delay our ability to repeal 87,000 IRS agents. That’s going to delay our ability to hold government accountable. There’s no subpoena that can go out until that gets done.” As if the next two years are going to be about anything other than hearings into conspiracy theories about the Biden crime family.

This would be a potential crisis for the nation if there were any expectation that a Republican House would do anything in the next two years, anyway. It’s not like there’s going to be a great loss if it takes them months to figure out who’s going to lead them, and they emerge from the fight more splintered and bruised.

(Although it would probably be a really good idea for Democrats to take care of the things that do matter, like funding the government and lifting the debt ceiling while they can.)

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Chinese surveillance balloon falling from sky over Carolina coast

The US Air Force shot down a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon on Saturday afternoon, dramatically ending a brief diplomatic confrontation between the two superpowers.

Keep reading...Show less

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}