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Hey, House Republicans: It’s Time to Govern
The GOP representatives who have bravely voted against Jim Jordan’s bid for the speakership can help the House past its paralysis.
ONE OF THE BENEFITS OF BEING AN ELECTION DENIER is that when you lose a vote yourself, you can just pretend that’s not what happened.
So after Rep. Jim Jordan, in his bid to be the next speaker of the House of Representatives, was walloped on Tuesday—with twenty of his fellow Republicans voting against him—instead of quitting he decided to try for a second ballot.
That led to yesterday’s spectacle, when he lost again thanks to twenty-two of his GOP colleagues—a bigger clutch of rejections than Kevin McCarthy saw in any of the fifteen humiliating ballots he suffered through during his January torments.
It’s unclear, as of this writing, whether Jordan will get the message and drop out before going through a third ballot. You never can tell with election deniers.
As for the Republicans who have been voting against Jordan, well, it says a lot that blocking a coup-plotting, subpoena-defying seditionist from being elected speaker is defined as politically courageous, but in the GOP of 2023, it is.
Consider the pressure they’ve been under, thanks to a campaign of bullying and intimidation on Jordan’s behalf: Steve Bannon reads your phone number on air, Sean Hannity personally calls you to light you up and tells his audience you are “sensitive little snowflakes,” Rep. Matt Gaetz taunts you by tweet, and pretty soon you’re saying yes. The pitiful ease with which Republicans have folded for eight years, first to Donald Trump and then to his MAGA lieutenants, is what brought us to where we are now. Democracy is in danger, Trump is on course to be nominated for president when he could have been disqualified by Senate conviction for trying to steal an election and inciting insurrection, there are state parties replete with election deniers, and House Republicans look like a bunch of degenerates who have collectively suffered a psychotic break.
Despite the cost they have already paid, the Republicans who defied the pressure must piss off their party more. Because it’s not enough to reject Jordan. Now it’s time to govern.
This is not a request for bravery in the face of Trump tweets. There is an urgent vacuum in American leadership that must be filled by patriots who appreciate the peril this moment represents.
We need a gang of the good.
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The White House is going to submit a request for $100 billion by the end of the week for domestic priorities and aid to Israel and Ukraine which would last a year. The government will shut down on November 17 unless new spending bills are agreed to.
Whether it’s a temporary a bipartisan deal that enhances the power of Acting Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry, or that seats a respected consensus speaker, maybe even one who is not a member of Congress, or some other plausible plan—some Republicans must act.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries has said Democrats respect McHenry and “a whole host of other Republicans” and would be willing to work to form a governing bloc for the near future.
A coalition of rational Republicans, retiring Republicans—and there will be more of them—swing-district Republicans, and appropriators, can find strength in numbers and do the right thing. There are plenty of Republicans who want to repair the damage this chapter has caused both Congress and their party. They should muster the guts the Jordan rebels did.
Rep. Mike Kelly’s proposal to expand McHenry’s powers temporarily, until November 17 when government funding expires, is a start, but it only means more chaos soon. It doesn’t require a bipartisan agreement and leaves in place the “motion to vacate” rule that threatens any leader of the House GOP conference.
Any attempt to provide stability to the House should last through passage of new funding bills and aid to Israel and Ukraine. It should also aim to raise the threshold for involving the motion to vacate to a far higher number than one member. There would also have to be an understanding that the new speaker would, at least for the time being, disregard the “Hastert Rule,” in which no bill comes to the floor without a majority of the majority.
There is a 63-member Problem Solvers Caucus, split nearly evenly between the parties, and if ever there were a moment for its mission, it is now. All 31 Republican members of the caucus should stay at the table until a governing bloc is formed. No excuses.
It will be painful for anyone stepping into this breach, their own colleagues will make certain of it. After losing his first vote for speaker Jordan told the press, “No one in our conference wants to see a coalition government with the Democrats.”
Jordan allies, on the Hill and across MAGA, are bitter.
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) on Tuesday called the twenty Republicans to first oppose Jordan “just as complicit in bringing us to a standstill” as the eight Republicans who voted to remove McCarthy.
It’s nuts, but it will keep coming.
There will be recriminations and ugliness and more threats. Because for many in the GOP conference working with Democrats is the ultimate sin. Ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy is still trying to blame Democrats for the fact that Republicans cannot select their own leader.
FOR SOME REPUBLICANS, it may seem that the House’s state of miserable paralysis is preferable to the alternative, if that alternative involves working with Democrats in some way. While they go on television talking about Israel and lamenting that the House can’t function right now, many of them will prefer to waste more time on these conference election battles than fulfill their responsibilities as the House majority.
But the time has come to get a spine. Besides, as Trump would say, what do they have to lose? The GOP majority is likely gone.
They should be willing to jettison their re-election prospects and put country before party—because the crazy will not abate with any permanent speaker the conference chooses. Next year, when Trump is their nominee, it will deepen.
This is not a choice about a continuing resolution everyone hopes will pass so the government doesn’t shut down but no one wants to vote for. This is not even like opposing Trump’s impeachments because crazed cultists were threatening lawmakers’ lives.
This time is different. The Republicans are breaking our government while we face multiple domestic and international crises.
Any Republicans who play it safe, help the GOP dive deeper into dysfunction, and refuse to meet their governing responsibilities deserves to lose.