Sunday, October 01, 2023


Matt Gaetz says he'll file a motion in the House this week intended to force a vote on ousting Speaker Kevin McCarthy. McCarthy's allies say they aren't worried. The Messenger reports:
“I think Kevin McCarthy continues to be in a strong position,” Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., said. “Nothing is easy to accomplish in this Republican House. But Kevin McCarthy keeps pulling off wins.”

McCarthy allies are so confident about the speaker's support, they are welcoming a removal vote as a way to silence his critics.
And The Hill tells us:
When asked on Fox News Business’s “Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo,” about Gaetz’s threat, [House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason] Smith said, “It’s an absolute waste of time if he brings a motion to vacate.”

“The only way a motion to vacate could be successful is is Matt Gaetz did exactly what he yells at Speaker McCarthy doing and that’s working with the Democrats,” Smith continued.

The Missouri Republican argued Gaetz would need over 200 Democrats to vote for McCarthy’s removal due to the over 200 Republicans that he said are “100 percent” behind McCarthy.
A couple of weeks ago, The Hill reported on Democrats' leanings if there's a motion to oust McCarthy:
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) over the weekend said the Democratic caucus “haven’t given it any thought one way or the other” when asked about a potential vote on ousting McCarthy, adding that the group will “cross that bridge when we get to it.”

House Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) would not say if leadership would whip a vote on ousting McCarthy — “we’re gonna cross that” — but she predicted that Democrats will remain united.

“We have been unified on every single vote, so we’ll stay that way,” Clark told The Hill.

Some Democrats have flat out said or suggested that they would support an effort to oust McCarthy, upping the pressure on the Speaker.

“I don’t see any Democrats out to save McCarthy, like we’re on Team Jeffries,” Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), who has sparred with McCarthy in the past, told The Hill last week. “And so, you know, we would try and put up the votes for Speaker Jeffries, like that’s what we did on the last Speaker vote.”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said today that she's ready to vote for McCarthy's ouster ("it’s not up to Democrats to save Republicans, from themselves especially"):
“I certainly don’t think that we would expect to see that unless there’s a real conversation between the Republican and Democratic caucuses and Republican Democratic leadership about what that would mean, but I don’t think we give up votes for free,” she said.
Yet McCarthy's allies think enough Democrats will come around to save McCarthy, and it's not clear what if anything they'll ask for in return. Dean Obeidallah believes they should ask for a power-sharing arrangement:
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)—chair of the 102-member Congressional Progressive Caucus—on Thursday [said] ... a deal could be reached to keep McCarthy Speaker if certain conditions were met. Jayapal explained, “There are things we can do in codifying the rules of the House that would give Hakeem Jeffries, our leadership, real power over the floor, over committees, etc.” ...

Rep. Ilhan Omar ... shared Friday on MNSBC that she had spoken to some fellow House Democrats open to a deal to keep McCarthy as Speaker if he agreed to a 50-50 power sharing deal. Omar explained that such an agreement would mean Democrats holding 50 percent of House committees and a shared agreement on legislation brought to a vote.
That's unrealistic. I'm guessing that Democrats will settle for much less. And if that happens, I'm not sure why it's worth it.

Until a new Speaker is chosen, the House is unlikely to be in the hands of maniacs:
Under continuity of Congress procedures enacted after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, there is a list of people who can act as speaker pro tempore in an event where the speakership is vacated. This was created in anticipation of a mass casualty event like a terrorist attack, but it would apply if the speakership is vacated. The irony is that list is written by the sitting speaker — so McCarthy knows who is on the list — and it is kept by the House Clerk and only to be made public in the event of a vacancy.
This is a list McCarthy compiled knowing it would remain secret until his ouster, so it's unlikely that the list would include Marjorie Taylor Greene or any other bomb-thrower. So if Democrats want to save McCarthy simply in order to keep the House under adult supervision, they should realize that it will probably remain under adult supervision at least through the inevitable multiple votes for a new Speaker.

And they really shouldn't care whether the crazies ultimately win. As I look ahead to 2024, I think it might be bad for President Biden and congressional Democrats that McCarthy and his not-as-crazy caucus keep preventing the country from plunging into utter chaos. If Republicans under McCarthy (and Mitch McConnell) don't appear horribly dangerous, then voters in 2024 are likely to believe they can be trusted to run the country again. That's good for all GOP candidates in 2024, including Donald Trump.

We can have Republican chaos now or worse chaos in 2025 under a reelected Trump and, quite possibly, a GOP-run Congress. I'm in favor of chaos now rather than chaos then.

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