AUTHOR’S NOTE — This is an update to “I’m Conservative – Not Crazy,” which I wrote last week as Republican infighting required four days to elect a Speaker of the House. It’s been 100 years since selecting a Speaker took more than the first ballot. The selection of Kevin McCarthy of California was the most protracted since 1859.
At 12:29 ET on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023, on the 15th ballot, Kevin McCarthy finally won the Speakership. We still don’t know all the concessions he had to make to get the prize he sought.
Do you remember Aesop’s Fable about “The Frogs Who Wished for a King?” The frogs in the swamp pray for a king to govern them. The gods send them a log. Unimpressed, they pray again. This time the gods send a crane who serves as their king. The crane proceeds to eat them. Ultimately, the frogs pray to return to the days before they had a King. The moral of the story is, of course, to be careful what you wish for; you may get it.
I wonder if Speaker McCarthy will be grateful that he got what he wished for when this story ends.
With the battle for Speaker over, the House moves on to other business, starting with the rules package. The rules determine how the House will operate for the next two years.
The vote may be where the 200 demonstrate their power over the twenty. If there is another showdown, passing a rules package may prove difficult. However, there is a better chance for bipartisanship on the rules package because, without a rules package, there won’t be disbursements for some Committee staff or student loan payments.
If the House passes the rules as proposed, they could make the House unmanageable. If it includes what’s called “the open rule,” Congress won’t get anything done. If it’s possible to recall the Speaker every time one of the twenty throws a temper tantrum, Congress also isn’t likely to get much done.
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In deference to my friend and former Congressman, J.D. Hayworth, I will note that this “Motion to Vacate the Chair” was part of the House rules, according to a Ballotpedia article dating to Thomas Jefferson’s tenure as Vice President when he wrote it into the rules. Nancy Pelosi had it stripped out in 2018 after Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC) used it to force the resignation of Speaker John Boehner in 2015. Before Boehner, the last use of the rule was in 1910 when Democrats attempted to remove Republican Speaker Joseph Cannon. Today, he has a House office building named after him.
The rule requiring all (House) legislation to be posted 72 hours before it’s voted on is good in theory. However, it’s not how the House runs, and that’s something McCarthy is unlikely to be able to change.
Below is a link to the legislation with the proposed rules for the House of Representatives for the 118th Congress. To follow it, you need to have the rules for the 117th Congress too.
- Adopting the Rules of the House of Representatives for the 118th Congress
- Rules of the House of Representatives — 117th Congress
Politics is the art of compromise. Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill understood neither side gets everything they want, and both sides have to get something. Both sides in Washington seem to have forgotten that it is impossible to pass legislation without compromise.
The House can’t make a law without the Senate passing the identical bill and the president signing it. The country can’t operate without a budget and probably without raising the debt ceiling. Failing to find a compromise will likely result in a government shutdown, which hasn’t benefited Republicans in the past.
It’s hard to comprehend that the group that took fifteen ballots and four days to elect a Speaker can find common ground with the Senate and President Biden.
Defaulting on the debt could bring serious long-term consequences to the nation’s economy. It’s not something to play with, and is why somebody like McCarthy needed to become Speaker.
The next two years will, most likely, focus on investigations that will satisfy the base but yield little.
I heard from some who agree with me and others supporting the goals of the members of the “Freedom Caucus.”
As I read and answered those comments, I thought about the reaction conservatives have had to elections Republicans won and Democrats lost. When that happens, inevitably, we’ve warned Democrats how they need to stop letting their extremists control them.
This week, we witnessed a minority with the most extreme views in our Party exert an oversized influence on the entire GOP. Since conservatives abhor hypocrisy, Republicans should heed our oft-given advice.
History teaches us what happens when either Party caters to its fringe element. Just as members of the Squad can win in the most liberal Districts, Freedom Caucus members can win in Republican +15 districts. But as of yet, no Squad member has won in statewide or national elections, and neither will far-right politicians.
Maybe I’ll be proven wrong, but after a week in the majority, Republicans remind me of an infamous Pogo comic strip.
“We have met the enemy and he is us.”
Andy Bloom is president of Andy Bloom Communications. He specializes in media training and political communications. He has programmed legendary stations including WIP, WPHT and WYSP/Philadelphia, KLSX, Los Angeles and WCCO Minneapolis. He was Vice President Programming for Emmis International, Greater Media Inc. and Coleman Research. Andy also served as communications director for Rep. Michael R. Turner (R-Ohio). He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter @AndyBloomCom.