Just days into regaining the House majority, the GOP is in open turmoil. Representative Kevin McCarthy has been pushing for three straight days to become elected as Speaker of the House. So far, McCarthy has failed after ten consecutive votes.
On Thursday morning, McCarthy received 201 votes for Speaker. 218 votes are needed to win, meaning McCarthy is still 17 votes shy. Actually, Representative Hakeem Jeffries, a Democrat, actually received more votes than McCarthy – 212.
The GOP Looks Bad
Electing a Speaker of the House is the House’s most basic function.
Day one stuff.
The last time a House speaker wasn’t elected on the first ballot? One hundred years ago, in 1923.
Since 1913, there have been 435 voting members of Congress – and only on two occasions has the Speaker of the House not been elected on the first ballot (McCarthy is the second).
And until the House elects a speaker, Congress cannot move on to more serious business. But right now, GOP dysfunction promises to prolong the Speaker selection process, preventing our government from functioning properly.
What’s the hold up?
Kevin McCarthy has been struggling to shore up support sufficient to earn the House speakership for a long time. And the current struggle has been particularly dramatic.
“On a surreal day, the 118th Congress opened with Republicans fighting Republicans, while Democrats – who should have been mourning their lost majority – were joyous at the GOP circus they beheld,” CNN said.
Standing between McCarthy and the speakership are a cluster of hard-right conservatives, who want someone more hardcore than McCarthy running the House. Specifically, members of the Freedom Caucus – people like Lauren Boebert and Matt Gaetz – are holding out in the hopes a more conservative, more ideological representative is chosen to speak for the House.
“Maybe the right person for the Speaker of the House isn’t someone who has sold shares in himself for more than a decade to get it,” Gaetz said.
Former President Trump, who the Freedom Caucus – and people like Boebert and Gaetz – generally align with, has backed McCarthy for Speaker. “REPUBLICANS, DO NOT TURN A GREAT TRIUMPH INTO A GIANT & EMBARRASSING DEFEAT. IT’S TIME TO CELEBRATE, YOU DESERVE IT. Kevin McCarthy will doo a good job, and maybe even a GREAT JOB – JUST WATCHED!” Trump wrote on Truth Social. “VOTE FOR KEVIN, CLOSE THE DEAL, TAKE THE VICTORY”
The Never Kevin crowd is refusing to back down, however.
“Praise the work and the leadership of Byron Donalds,” Boebert began, “So let’s work together, let’s stop with the campaign smears and tactics to get people to turn against us. Even having my favorite president call us and tell us we need to knock this off – I think it actually needs to be reversed.” She continued, offering Trump a prescription. “The president needs to tell Kevin McCarthy that ‘sir you do not have the votes and it’s time to withdraw.’”
Right, so the GOP is a mess at the moment – which means the House is a means – which means that the Legislative Branch is a mess – which means that the government is a mess.
I don’t have any faith in the GOP agenda, so, even when the GOP sorts this out and installs a speaker and moves forward, the GOP will still pursue asinine nonsense, like investigating Hunter Biden ad nauseum.
But whatever the GOP agenda, the voters who voted Red deserve representation that extends beyond squabbling and quibbling and gridlock.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken.