On the fifteenth ballot of the new year, the House finally selected Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), as its new Speaker. What ended the impasse? In addition to the list of “concessions” that we know about, what other promises did McCarthy make to Freedom Caucus?
When selecting a new Speaker, the House operates more like a parliamentary system than America is used to or expects. When the Party in power has a slim majority, and if there is contention within that Party, coalitions must be built, promises are made, and concessions are extracted.
It seems that McCarthy relinquished all the power and authority of the office in order to win the title of Speaker. But a weak Speaker leading a fractured caucus is actually dangerous. The Republican House can frustrate Biden’s legislative agenda. It can conduct endless oversight hearings and investigations. It can restrict government spending.
When you look at the demands of the 20 anti-McCarthy holdouts and consider what he conceded to them, the next two years will be fractious. Over the past four days, they made demands in four areas. First, they object to funding Ukraine. They also object to the size of the omnibus spending bill that passed at the end of the last Congress. Third, they don’t want the US debt ceiling extended. Lastly, they want to hold investigations. Many investigations.
Since the bill funding Ukraine and the omnibus spending bill passed with bi-partisan support in both Houses, any action they try to take on those two are likely to fail. But they have the right to investigate anything and everything, so we need to be prepared for that.
The debt ceiling is a problem. There will be bi-partisan support in both Houses for increasing it, but McCarthy will control whether a clean debt ceiling increase ever gets to the House floor for a vote. There will be a bi-partisan group of House members to support that bill, but if McCarthy goes to Democrats for the needed votes to pass a debt ceiling increase, the anti-McCarthy faction will attempt to remove him from the Speaker position.
It’s very possible that McCarthy will be successfully deposed if Democrats aren’t inclined to save him. It was this kind of behavior that convinced John Boehner to retire.
McCarthy almost certainly made concessions about Ukraine and the debt ceiling and government spending in order to win the job. He will either break these promises, or he’ll lead the country to financial ruin. Or the moderates in the House GOP will try to kick him out. The Republicans have a majority but it’s not a functional one. On to cartoons.
McCarthy’s headaches are just beginning:
He’s a weak GOP Speaker, not a Pope:
It’s way past time for the GOP to hit the target:
Last week was deja vu of Jan 6 two years ago: