Tag: steve scalise
Surprise! Kevin McCarthy Says He Is 'Willing' To Run For Speaker Again

Surprise! Kevin McCarthy Says He Is 'Willing' To Run For Speaker Again

Ousted House Speaker Kevin McCarthy flip-flopped on Monday, saying he was open to taking the gavel back amid a Chernobyl-level meltdown in the Republican Party over the crisis in Israel.

Last week, shortly after a small band of MAGA maniacs engineered his ouster, McCarthy stated he would not seek the post again.

But that was last week. “Whatever the conference wants, I will do,” McCarthy told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt during an interview on Monday.

The prospect of McCarthy being reinstated solely with the votes of Republicans seems highly unlikely after his primary right-wing foe, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, achieved hero-level status among some MAGA faithful for ejecting McCarthy. McCarthy would need at least four of the eight Republican nihilists who voted him out last week to have a sudden change of heart.

McCarthy's cynical play to regain the speakership comes as House Republicans war with each other over their inability to provide extra aid to Israel after Hamas’ attack over the weekend. Nine Americans have been confirmed killed in the fighting, and there are unverified reports of potential American hostages—claims that McCarthy immediately sought to capitalize on.

"Our top priority right now must be to rescue all American hostages," he tweeted out Monday morning. "The Biden Administration cannot repeat the failures of Afghanistan. NO American left behind!"

McCarthy's potential successors are working overtime to cast themselves as the answer to the Republican-led predicament. “Make no mistake: The United States will always stand with Israel, our greatest ally in the Middle East,” Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana tweeted out Saturday. And Sunday on Fox News, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio pledged that his first priority as speaker would be to help Israel. Both Scalise and Jordan are further right than McCarthy, and Jordan—the biggest chaos agent of the trio—has won the backing of former President Donald Trump.

House Republican infighting has ground the lower chamber to a halt due to the absence of a speaker. But now, instead of the House caucus simply making a binary choice between Jordan and Scalise for a new speaker, McCarthy is back in the mix. Nothing but further delay and pandemonium can come of that.

In the meantime, American priorities at home and allies around the globe will suffer the consequences.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Who Will Replace Kevin McCarthy? Just Keep Your Expectations Low

Who Will Replace Kevin McCarthy? Just Keep Your Expectations Low

Having bounced poor Kevin McCarthy out of office — a moment that might have been painful if the former speaker possessed a spine — House Republicans now face the difficult prospect of choosing a replacement. Perhaps we can look forward to another clownish spectacle like the 15 rounds of voting and haggling that produced Speaker McCarthy, whose only distinctions are how briefly he served and how humiliating his historic departure turned out to be. (Getting punked by the likes of Rep. Matt Gaetz is truly special.)

For the rest of America, the question that inevitably arises is whether the upcoming contest really matters at all. Will it make much difference when McCarthy is replaced by his former deputy Steve Scalise, whom he reportedly loathed, or Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, whom he unaccountably liked, or some other zany far-right legislator? Probably not, although Scalise is reputed to be more "reasonable" than Jordan, who appears to be certifiable.

Neither of these would-be leaders — or any alternative candidate — will lift the House Republican caucus out of the mental and moral chaos that they have made the new normal for Congress.

Whatever Scalise or Jordan may promise, we already know what congressional Republicans will do, because we've watched this movie for decades and nothing has changed except some of the names. We know what they will do and what they can't or won't do.

Among the many things they don't do well is pass legislation, no matter how vital to the nation's security and prosperity, because they have failed to absorb any of the basic lessons of group dynamics that most people learn in kindergarten. Not only do Republicans reject compromise, but they're offended by the very idea.

That's why so many of them admire Jordan, who has literally never passed a single bill during eight terms on Capitol Hill and is rated one of America's least effective legislators. (It's worth comparing him to Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the Democratic leader who is rated among the most effective members in either party.)

The Republican allergy to legislative achievement — unless they are cutting taxes for wealthy donors — also suggests that Jordan and Scalise aren't serious about reducing deficits, defending our borders or fighting crime, which they proclaim as their priorities. The problems defined by those buzz phrases require complex solutions that reflect the realities of a large, diverse country, not Fox News sound bites. It's not what they do.

Among the other things that these Republicans won't do is protect the institution of Congress. Jordan flaunted his lack of respect for constitutional principle when he dodged a subpoena issued by the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection. Instead, he displayed his sympathy for those who attacked the Capitol — and did his best to undermine confidence in our elections. As for Scalise, he is best known for the tragic shooting that almost took his life several years ago, and for an unfortunate but pithy moment of self-awareness, when he told someone that he is "David Duke without the baggage." Coming from the Klan leader's home state of Louisiana, he knows exactly what that means. Neither he nor Jordan are suitable figures to unite their caucus, let alone the Congress or the country.

Over the past few decades, Republicans like Jordan and Scalise have displayed a knack for certain categories of congressional action (or inaction), and we can expect more of the same from either of them. They're quite adept at shutting down the government they are supposed to steward, and that will surely be their first big achievement under a new speaker. They're always ready to back down from bullies, such as former President Donald Trump or the National Rifle Association, no matter how wrong and damaging that may be. They're well practiced at enabling extremists, authoritarians, crooks and bigots, notably including their own members like Reps. Paul Gosar, Marjorie Taylor Greene, George Santos and Lauren Boebert. They're perennially eager to isolate and punish vulnerable minorities, from impoverished immigrants to gays, lesbians and trans people.

Just keep your expectations low and these Republican "leaders" will never disappoint you.

To find out more about Joe Conason, editor-in-chief of The National Memo, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Jim Jordan

Speaker Race: 'Legislative Terrorist' Or 'David Duke Without The Baggage'

The race for the next speaker of the House is on. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Majority Leader Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) have both declared that they want the job. The official launch of the contest will be at a House Republican forum next Tuesday, led by interim Speaker Patrick McHenry (R-NC) and House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY). The voting is expected to begin Wednesday. Who knows when it could end?

Democrats will do what they did both in the first speaker’s election and in the motion to oust McCarthy: unite behind Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY). So it’s going to be up to Republicans to figure this one out on their own. And what a decision it will be.


Jordan, currently chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and chief Hunter Biden dick-pic promoter, was the founding chairman of the Freedom Caucus way back when. Jordan is a key architect of the total chaos that’s now the norm for the Republican-controlled House. After being hounded into retirement by the maniacs, former Speaker John Boehner said, “Jordan was a terrorist as a legislator going back to his days in the Ohio House and Senate. … A terrorist. A legislative terrorist.”

Jordan’s pre-legislative career as an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University has been a persistent public-relations problem for him. Former student athletes credibly allege that he refused to intervene when they asked for his help against a team doctor who had sexually abused them. Jordan denies that he knew about the abuse. One of the former students, Tito Vazquez, said that he complained to Jordan, who allegedly replied, “I have nothing to do with this.”

That doesn’t speak directly to Jordan as a legislator, though it is a reflection of his character. What does speak to Jordan in Congress is his record. In 2021, the Center for Effective Lawmaking—a joint project of the University of Virginia and Vanderbilt University—ranked Jordan as 202 out of 205 on the effectiveness scale for congressional Republicans. They put him at 217 out of 222 Republicans in the most recent, complete session of Congress. Lawmaking isn’t really his thing. Yelling for the cameras is.

Jordan was one of the 147 Congressional Republicans who voted to overturn the 2020 election on the night of January 6, 2021, after the hours-long assault on the U.S. Capitol by a violent mob of Donald Trump supporters. A close Trump ally, Jordan is known to have conferred at length with Trump on the morning of Jan. 6. He defied the House committee investigating Jan. 6, refusing to comply even when subpoenaed.

Given all that history, Jordan’s campaign pledges to “fix the institution” and “unify the party” don’t even reach the threshold of laughable.


Scalise, the current House majority leader, would at least have the advantage of knowing how the House is supposed to work and being able to organize it, since he also served as party whip.

Scalise once allegedly told Stephanie Grace, a Louisiana reporter and political columnist, that he considered himself “like David Duke without the baggage.” In 2014, a Louisiana blogger reported that Scalise “was allegedly an honored guest and speaker at an international conference of white supremacist leaders” in 2002. The event was organized by Duke, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

The lawmaker didn’t deny attending the conference when the story broke, but issued a statement calling it “a mistake I regret.” He said he was there “as a state representative, trying to build support for legislation that focused on cutting wasteful state spending, eliminating government corruption, and stopping tax hikes.” In his statement, he also suggested that the international conference of white supremacists was just another “Louisiana group.”

Scalise probably has the edge among members of the GOP conference. He’s both liked among the moderates and a dogged fundraiser, bringing in $170 million in the past decade for Republican candidates. When Scalise says, “I firmly believe this conference is a family,” it will at least be plausible to his colleagues. His sympathy ploy will probably work, too. “When I was shot in 2017, it was members of this conference who saved my life on that field,” he wrote in his statement announcing his candidacy for speaker. “When I was in the hospital for nearly 15 weeks, it was the possibility of getting back to work with all of you that kept me motivated to get better.”

One person to whom Scalise isn’t family is his last boss, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. There’s bad blood between them going back to at least 2018, when Scalise challenged McCarthy to succeed the previous guy hounded out by the Freedom Caucus, former Speaker Paul Ryan.

McCarthy hasn’t weighed in publicly, but his staff—with or without McCarthy’s blessing—has been making phone calls to Republican lawmakers to boost Jordan. Semafor reports that their source doesn’t refer to the effort as “endorsing” Jordan. Instead, they say it’s “consulting and providing guidance” to Jordan’s team. Sure.

Of course McCarthy would prioritize his petty feud with Scalise over what could be considered better for the party. The hilarious irony:

Meanwhile, the guy who brought McCarthy down, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), calls Jordan—the guy McCarthy is probably backing—his “mentor.” You really can’t make this shit up.

McCarthy could also be trying to stay on good terms with the MAGA crowd, perhaps even envisioning himself on the ticket with Donald Trump in 2024. It’s not like he really has a future in the House anymore, and he’s probably egotistical enough to consider himself a valid contender. For now, Trump is staying out of it, claiming he’s focused on his presidential run (cough, defending himself against 91 felony indictments). There is a rumor going around though that he’ll visit the House Republicans as they work out who should be speaker.

So all those “moderate” Republicans have quite a choice facing them: Go with the alleged white supremacist, or blatantly turn the House into an arm of the Trump 2024 campaign. Of course, there’s always the option that consistently got the most votes for speaker during the first 14 rounds of voting back in January: Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

GOP's Extremist 'First Two Weeks' Agenda Stalled In House

GOP's Extremist 'First Two Weeks' Agenda Stalled In House

Days before the 118th Congress convened, incoming House Majority Leader Steve Scalise outlined an ambitious agenda of right-wing legislation for the new Republican majority to pass during the first two weeks of the new session. A month later, only about half of the "ready-to-go" proposals that the Louisiana Republican prioritized have received a floor vote.

In a December 30 letter to the GOP caucus, Scalise wrote: "In preparation for becoming the House Majority Leader next week, I have been meeting with our incoming committee chairs over the last month to start making plans for legislation on the House Floor so that we can hit the ground running in our first weeks in the majority. We have made it clear that we must change the way we do business in order to improve the legislative process."

Noting that such changes would take time, Scalise added: "In the meantime, we will begin bringing up meaningful, 'ready-to-go' legislation in the House. These commonsense measures will address challenges facing hard-working families on issues ranging from energy, inflation, border security, life, taxpayer protection, and more."

Scalise outlined 11 bills and resolutions that he would bring to the floor without waiting for committee action.

Rather than vote on any legislation, House Republicans struggled through their first week simply trying to agree on who should be House speaker. After days of infighting, they elected Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on their 15th attempt, early on Jan. 7.

In the three weeks since, the House has taken up and passed just six of the items Scalise listed in his letter.

In a January 9 party-line vote, they passed the Family and Small Business Taxpayer Protection Act, which would rescind money appropriated in the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act to help the IRS modernize systems, replace retiring employees, and beef up enforcement of existing tax laws, especially for large corporations and wealthy individuals making over $400,000 a year. If the proposal becomes law, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated, it will cost the federal government more than $185 billion over 10 years in lost revenue.

A day later, they formally established a "Select Committee on Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party."

On January 11, they passed two anti-abortion measures: the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which would criminalize doctors who do not provide medical care in extremely rare situations in which a fetus survives an attempted abortion; and a nonbinding resolution condemned "recent attacks on pro-life facilities, groups, and churches."

Abortion rights groups condemned both measures as part of a "dystopian political agenda."

Next, they approved two bills to restrict the president's ability to sell petroleum from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

The Protecting America's Strategic Petroleum Reserve from China Act, passed January 12, would prohibit any of the products taken from the reserve from being sold "to any entity that is under the ownership, control, or influence of the Chinese Communist Party" or to anyone who doesn't agree to prevent it from being exported it to China.

The Strategic Production Response Act, passed on January 27, would require the Energy Department to agree to increase fossil fuel drilling on federal lands by a comparable amount before any petroleum is drawn from the reserve except in a "severe energy supply interruption."

The remaining five "ready to go" proposals have been delayed, as even some House Republicans raised concerns about them.

The Prosecutors Need to Prosecute Act would require local prosecutors to report data on several types of prosecutions to the federal Justice Department. In a letter to McCarthy and Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, 24 civil rights groups said: "Efforts to pressure prosecutors to use their discretion to send more people to prison and seek longer sentences, such as the Prosecutors Need to Prosecute Act, are a threat to justice, equity, and public safety. … The goal of H.R. 27 is clear: to pressure prosecutors to prosecute more cases more harshly despite bipartisan concerns that the United States already incarcerates far too many people for far too long."

Republican Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs toldRoll Call the bill was a "federalization" of local enforcement, "putting the federal government to solve every local problem."

Another, a nonbinding resolution, would oppose "the misguided and dangerous efforts to defund and dismantle the Nation's law enforcement agencies." This would seemingly conflict with Republicans' vote to slash IRS enforcement funding and Republican Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's call to "defund the FBI."

The Border Safety and Security Act would crack down on asylum-seekers coming to the United States by giving the secretary of homeland security the authority to unilaterally bar them from entering the country and requiring the government to keep them out as long as there is a processing backlog.

Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX) opposes the bill, telling the Washington Post on January 23, "Trying to ban legitimate asylum claims — one, it's not Christian, and two, to me, it's very anti-American."

Long a GOP priority, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act would codify the Hyde Amendment's ban on most federal funding of abortion and would also prevent federal funding of any health insurance plan that includes abortion coverage.

Planned Parenthood has opposed this bill for years, warning it would disproportionately hurt people of color and low-income women.

Finally, the Illegal Alien NICS Alert Act would require U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and local police to be informed any time an undocumented immigrant tries to purchase a gun.

Scalise's schedule for this week promises votes on bills to limit the government's COVID-19 safety response efforts and a resolution "denouncing the horrors of socialism."

None of the remaining "first two weeks" bills are scheduled to come to the floor.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.