Leadership Battles in the GOP
Losing has a way of creating intraparty strife.
As I often note, losing is a major feedback input to political parties. While it remains to be seen what lessons the overall GOP is likely to learn (or fail to learn) as a result of three electoral cycles in a row that demonstrated various weaknesses, the 2022 mid-terms are manifesting as some public fights over leadership.
WaPo reports: Republican infighting roils Congress as midterms fallout continues.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) won his party’s nomination for speaker Tuesday afternoon with 188 votes from the GOP caucus — well past the simple majority needed for victory. But 31 lawmakers voted for a challenger, presenting a steep obstacle for McCarthy come January, when he will need 218 votes to win the speakership when the 118th Congress convenes.
And in the Senate, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) announced he would challenge Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) during an hours-long airing of grievances among party members frustrated over their failure to win back the chamber. McConnell conceded that the group’s leadership elections, set for Wednesday morning, could be delayed if a majority of the caucus votes to postpone them.
“I want to repeat again — I have the votes, I will be elected,” McConnell told reporters after emerging from the party meeting. “The only issue is whether we do it sooner or later.”
I expect McCarthy to become Speaker and McConnell to remain Leader, but these challenges underscore that the Republican Party is not in great shape at the moment.
I will say, as a side note, that fantasies I have seen on social media and elsewhere that the challenge to McCarthy could lead to some coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans to select a Democratic Speaker is, well, nuts.
It is, however, some small portion of justice that McCarthy is now facing challenges from the MAGA wing of the party (and they will be a thorn in his side for the next two years should he become, as I expect, Speaker of the House). After all, McCarthy sold his soul to Trump to be in this position.
That’s the inconvenient thing about being spineless–it ain’t just your perceived enemies who grab the jar of indelible ink to take note of it.
Idiocy springs eternal.
Almost enough to make me believe in God.
Good thing I invested heavily in popcorn futures.
I don’t understand where this line of talk is coming from. Is there any reason to believe that enough R’s will defect so as to knowingly let a Democrat become Speaker? Or is this just the media stroking itself?
@MarkedMan: In theory, an internal fight could result in some other Rep than McCarthy becoming Speaker.
More likely the MAGAs can leverage this into better committee assignments/chairs/a promise to get certain legislation to the floor (and so forth).
@Steven L. Taylor: Once he’s got the R majority, what’s to stop him from just telling the loons to pound sand? Voting or abstaining in such a way that a Dem ends up in the Chair would be political suicide. Threatening to take down both McCarthy and yourself if you don’t get your way doesn’t seem viable to me.
And that’s why it is exceedingly likely that Trump will be the GOP nominee in 2024. Trump, with his support among the most rabid GOP primary voters, is effectively holding the GOP hostage.
And since the GOP prefers kissing Trump’s ass to the prospect of a guaranteed Democratic majority, they will fall in line behind him.
Because he needs 218 votes on the floor and he is going to get zero from Dems. And hence their leverage. It’s a classic game of chicken.
Let’s bear in mind that some of these people are the same ones who vote for not increasing the debt ceiling, and throwing the US into default. Where’s the logic in that? Did they get better committee assignments from that?
But no, I agree that getting a Dem elected speaker won’t happen. What might happen is getting a different Republican – a moderate who has promised to allow a few votes on certain things – to be Speaker. That is a credible threat. It will probably keep the radicals in check.
@Steven L. Taylor:
This would be good. I want to see a steady stream of cruel, stupid proposals from these sadistic troglodytes.
I’m looking forward to eleventeen hearings about January 6th political prisoners.
@Steven L. Taylor: Yeah, but they can’t take him out without also taking themselves out. If enough of them voted against him that Pelosi ended up back in office, their political careers would be over. Considering who their supporters are, their lives might be in danger. If McCarthy isn’t willing to call that bluff he’s going to get walked all over every single day
@MarkedMan: McCarthy WILL get walked all over every single day. I don’t think he has the sto…er, capacity to stand up to the GQP nutjobs
Here’s what they are looking to do:
And by they, I mean the lunatics like Jordan, MTG, Chip Roy, those idiots. Their political futures depend on them being maniacs. They are safe so long as they do that.
From the Article:
They’ve already shown they have enough to stop him from being Speaker if they want. McCarthy wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) get more than a handful of idiot dems to vote for him. I mean, seriously, Pelosi should demand the same Motion to Vacate and tell McCarthy that if he allows a vote on any impeachment she’s going to file the Motion herself and bring him down. McCarthy is basically looking at a suicide pact any way he turns. I don’t think he’s skilled enough to figure a way out.
Doesn’t work that way. For anyone to be named Speaker, he/she has to receive at least 218 votes from the entire House. If no candidate does, they go to multiple ballots until someone eventually does. It hasn’t happened in a long time that I can tell, but it sounds like it’s about to.
I like somebody’s suggestion that the Ds do an Obamacare on McCarthy. Promise him enough votes to overcome any R defectors. Then renege.
I love that so much.
@daryl and his brother darryl:
Me too. Maybe the minority members could work in some criminal justice reform.
But they’ll kill the 1/6 Committee and go after Garland. Or maybe constitute a new committee to investigate deep state and Italian satellite election fraud and how it’s all the fault of the capitol police and Pelosi’s failure to order out the National Guard. And there will be endless investigations of the Biden administration with maybe a couple bills of impeachment. And I’d advise Anthony Fauci to defect for a couple years. Reynolds, what’s that place in Spain you love? Apparently it’s hard to enforce congressional subpoenas anyway, I doubt they can extradite. They can’t seem to live without an enemy and I fear Fauci may be in line to be the next Lois Lerner, but on a bigger scale.
@HarvardLaw92: Ah, now it makes sense. McCarthy (or anyone else) needs a majority, not just a plurality. So as long as the loons keep voting for a Republican, they can hold the house in limbo indefinitely. So McCarthy can bend over for the loons and give them what they want and guaranteeing a life of sheer hell for as long as he is the Speaker, or he can show that he can’t be pushed around and cut a reasonable deal with the Dems (which, by the way, would be infinitely better for the country).
So it’s to be pounded by the loons then…
McConnell has been reelected Senate Minority Leader.
@MarkedMan: I suppose Pelosi could cut a deal with reasonable R’s too.
Yup. Somehow he has to get at least 218 votes, any 218. If he convinced enough dems to peel off and vote for him, which doesn’t exactly seem likely but it could happen, he could flip off the Freedom caucus entirely. Get rid of the Hastert rule and they’d be sidelined completely.
@HarvardLaw92: Oh, I think he definitely could cut an entirely reasonable deal with the Dems. I don’t think it would hurt any that participated politically. I, for one, would applaud them for taking what they could get.
He could. But he won’t. He’s a man without vision, morals or courage. Much, much too timid to try anything so grand.
At least three, so they can say he’s the most impeached President ever.
Not 218, simply an absolute majority of the members present and voting. Members who vote “present” — who thought up that silly idea — do not count against the total for calculating the majority. Pelosi won in 2011 with 216 votes, when three members voted “present”.
Describe such a hypothetical deal that both (a) the Dems would accept and (b) the Dems could enforce. Be sure it fits within the procedural rules of the House.
Internecine wars are fun!
Some Republicans WANT a slim majority because it gives individual representatives much more power. Cue Rep. Thomas Massie:
Personally, I think it’s likely Republicans in the House will not do much of anything, given that a couple of representatives will have de facto veto power.
I don’t see why anyone would want to be Speaker given those conditions.
Worryingly, for some of them that doing nothing appears to include doing nothing to avoid a debt default.
That is a legitimate fear given all the potential veto points. Congress should pass an extension or suspension during the lame duck using reconciliation.
You misspelled “suicidal”.
@MarkedMan: It would be the end of his political career. Also the end of the careers of any GOP who went along with it.
@Michael Cain: Any deal that gives Dems more influence than they would have if McCarthy was voted in by Republicans only would be a win, given that there is zero chance a Dem will win.
As to how this would be enforced beyond simply the word of the speaker, I don’t know enough about the rules to understand if that is possible. Since the first action is to select a Speaker, I would guess it isn’t. So yes, McCarthy can promise and then immediately renege and the Dems would have to judge whether or not that is likely.
@Steven L. Taylor:
It’s a game of chicken in which you are expecting people who believe in Jewish Space Lasers to behave like rational actors. And, so far MTG is backing McCarthy. So far.
It will work until it doesn’t, and if/when that happens the unthinkable will seem inevitable.
Maybe, but I don’t think it’s a certainty. At the end of the vote a Republican would be Speaker. To the vast, vast quantity of voters all of this is so much angels-dancing-on-the-head-of-a-pin. The loonies will say he betrayed them but it is not easily understood why and their panties are always in a twist. A braver man and one who wanted to maintain independence would risk it, but I acknowledge that McCarthy is not that man.
If it develops into that kind of a shit-show I would hope Pelosi et al are ready to pounce. What a coup if Republican disarray was so bad it opened up an opportunity to install a Democratic Speaker! I have visions of 12 angry loonies storming out of the chamber and the Dems immediately calling for a vote. No idea if that could even work, but a guy can fantasize, can’t he?
The loonies are the GOP base and what they will understand is that he aligned himself with evil DEMs in a treasonous bargain to defy them their blood and soil campaign. They talked about hanging Pence, they will hang McCarthy.
My fantasies never hurt, some of them did get a little messy tho.
@Steven L. Taylor: Do MAGA Republicans have agenda that their party would otherwise block? Or agenda at all, for that matter?
@MarkedMan: Yup. Pounded by the loons looks like the winner to me.
IIRC they can’t use reconciliation to pass debt ceiling legislation. Reconciliation can only be used twice in a session.
Unfortunate if true, I haven’t looked into this much.