The friction within the Republican party continued as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy faced pressure from Freedom Caucus members over 11 spending bills last week.
The Speaker hung it up late last week, sending lawmakers home for a long weekend after his party was unable to reach an agreement on funding the federal government. The moment is reminiscent of when the same contingency blocked a resolution on the debt ceiling.
Republican Rabble Rousers
Back then, Republican insurgents, including Reps. Chip Roy of Texas, Matt Gaetz of Florida, and Lauren Boebert of Colorado, charged Speaker McCarthy with violating the January agreement with them that cleared the path for him to win his job, which took 15 votes and many days to do so.
Much like during his approval process, McCarthy does not seem to be deterred. He told reporters that his plan was the same as the one that got him elected speaker in January. “Just keep working. Never give up,” McCarthy told reporters as he left the floor.
Frustrations Over the Freedom Caucus
Some members of the Republican party expressed their frustration and the inability to push budget legislation through.
“It looks like a coaching error,” said Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) of the failed vote. “Wow. I think we’re all in this shock.”
“I don’t think the speaker is even remotely concerned about some of the theatrics going on right now,” Graves (R-La.) told CNN. “As a matter of fact … I drafted a motion to vacate for the speaker as well. I’ve got it sitting on my desk right now. And I said, ‘Look, if you’re going to keep hanging this over [his] head and playing these games, let’s just do it now, let’s get it over with. Get your little games over with and then we’ll get back to the things that actually matter.’”
Some Republican representatives are recommending cutting out the pesky members of the party altogether.
Over the weekend, Don Bacon (R-Neb.) told MSNBC, “We’re going through a lot of gymnastics right now to get 218 and you’ve got 5 who refuse to do it. Let’s just realize that, cut them out, work with the Democrats and make the best deal we can as Republicans and govern. These 5-10 people don’t want to govern. They want to shut down. 95% of us don’t want that. Let’s make these 5-10 people irrelevant and work across the aisle.”
The New York Times calls the disagreements between disparate members of the Republican party a “historically dysfunctional moment in American politics.”
The Useful Rebels
I disagree. What’s happening in the Republican party is the epitome of what should be happening in Congress.
While many are criticizing members of the Freedom Caucus for their demands and resisting the agenda of the majority Republican party, a lack of dissent or debate within any party or system of government is not good for our republic. Spirited engagement should not be shut down. It is how systems, and indeed, politics, adapt to different moments in time.
The prominent questions Republicans had to answer in the 80s are very different than what needs to be addressed today. To fail to have anyone in Congress tackle the problems of the current cultural and political moment would be a mistake. The conservative movement’s inability to question and stand up to contemporary progressive policies with any sort of conviction is how they’ve lost so much ground in the first place.
This is hardly new. The Founding Fathers were all too often engaged in feisty and sometimes even vicious disagreements that took longer than expected to reach a compromise.
People may not enjoy or be comfortable with the boisterous influencers that are rousing the House. However, when the ship has gotten so far off course, rebel voices are necessary and we should be happy some have the guts to use them.
Jennifer Galardi is the politics and culture editor and opinion writer for 19FortyFive.com. She has a Master’s in Public Policy from Pepperdine University and produces and hosts the podcast Connection with conversations that address health, culture, politics, and policy. In a previous life, she wrote for publications in the health, fitness, and nutrition space. In addition, her pieces have been published in the Epoch Times and Pepperdine Policy Review. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.
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