As the first vote on who will be the Speaker of the House comes on Tuesday morning, things are moving swiftly. A small number of Republicans is fighting with the majority of their caucus to prevent Kevin McCarthy from becoming speaker. We are now learning more about their desires.
The first demand was, naturally, unworkable. No Speaker will allow five Republicans from a caucus of over 200 to dictate particular committee assignments because it effectively neuters the rest of the caucus. The other members would riot and refuse to accept it.
On the other hand, I have no objections to the new Church Committee, which will probe government corruption (i.e. FBI, CIA, etc.), receiving a higher budget than the Jan. 6th committee. Why would it not? The scope and complexity of the misbehavior involved is significantly greater than a three-hour riot. The Freedom Caucus has fought tooth and nail in order to get this far on the topic of who should control it. Why not let them take the lead?
Another sticking point is McCarthy’s refusal to commit to votes on conservative principles such as the Fair Tax Act and term limits. I don’t see the problem either. They’d fail, sure, but so what? The notion that voting for a party is inherently negative is absurd. Voters would prefer to see their MPs go on record instead of having leadership gatekeep as the Pelosi-led House did. McCarthy would be wise not to fight over issues that are just not worth fighting over.
Having said that, those fighting McCarthy are taking chances, and according to a meeting with McCarthy on Monday, they are obviously willing to take them.
Allowing Hakeem Jeffries to become Speaker with the intention of opposing him (from the minority) is a serious threat from Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz, and Steve Perry. I’m not sure they’d be willing to back it up, as it would almost certainly result in the end of their political careers and complete exclusion from the party. Of course, they’re probably making the threat knowing it’s pointless.
Nonetheless, Jeffries may profit if Republicans botch the process. The House has voted several times in US history to allow a plurality to choose the Speaker of the House. If a few Republicans become frustrated and vote with Dems. to amend the rules, Jeffries might be chosen if the anti-McCarthy faction remains firm. But, once again, that would need the GOP to utterly lose track of the process and members on both sides of the issue to go fully rogue. Let us hope that does not occur.
Author: Scott Dowdy