Sen. Kevin McCarthy is now Speaker of the House and third in line for the presidency.
After 100 years of speakers being elected on the first vote, 15 is worth noting. Some pundits blame McCarthy for failing to get all factions on board prior to the first vote, but I’m not sure any speaker has faced a faction quite so unyielding before.
Though former Speaker John Boehner had this to say of the opposition while he served. “What they’re really interested in is chaos….They want to throw sand in the gears of the hated federal government until it fails and they’ve finally proved that it’s beyond saving.”
A political faction that isn’t interested in what’s best for the country is a danger to us all.
The 20 opposing McCarthy are only a fraction of the Far Right Republicans in Congress. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga), an outspoken extremist, has been a staunch supporter of McCarthy. Even former President Trump came through with a half-hearted endorsement.
Leaders in most democracies could have stripped such a small minority by negotiating with a faction on the other side of the aisle. Some Democrats were willing to support some fairly right-wing Republicans.
Republicans, however, have demonized Democrats so thoroughly–calling them Marxists, traitors, baby killers, cop killers and porn peddlers–that turning around and cooperating with them on anything could alienate much of their base.
We’ll probably never know all the promises McCarthy had to make to get a victory, but the ones we do know are worrisome. One new rule would allow any representative to call for a vote to unseat McCarthy. So, if he crosses the 20 at all, there could be more votes.
Another rule change would require that the budget of FY 2024 keep spending at or below FY 2022 levels. If that isn’t accomplished, McCarthy is to refuse to allow a vote to raise the debt limit– the majority of House members will have no say. Since 1960 the debt limit has been raised 49 times under Republican presidents and 29 times under Democratic ones.
The battle over the speakership took much of the heat off of George Santos, a newly elected Republican congressman from New York who has been called upon to resign.
Santos’ sin? He claimed he’d worked for two prominent Wall Street banks when he’d only done business with them; that he had degrees in finance and economics when he actually hasn’t graduated from college; and that his Jewish grandparents fled persecution by the Nazis during World War II when the truth is that he’d only knew that his mom had some Jewish ancestors.
Santos seems surprised that his lies are a big deal. Doesn’t everyone embellish their resume a bit? His fellow Republicans in the house are shunning him, possibly because his claim that everyone lies is a danger to them.
According to former Republican State Senator Mary Souza, some Idaho Republicans also lie. In a recent editorial she claimed that party central committees in Idaho distributed information about Republican primary candidates in which the truth was “manipulated, twisted, embellished or suppressed.”
Now misinformation isn’t new, but the party central committees have usually represented all party factions and stayed neutral before the primaries. More and more of them, however, are being taken over by Far Right activists.
In the 1960s Democrats felt powerful enough to pass civil rights laws even though they knew they would lose support clear across the South.
Now Republicans are attacking their moderate wing. For what cause? Power alone?
Perhaps Speaker Boehner was right–their goal is chaos.