House Republicans Are a Majority in Name Only
Plus: Hear directly from the lawyers in the 14th Amendment case
The Republican majority in the House of Representatives controls that chamber’s schedule, its business, and its committees. These are the perks of having a majority. But in its current form, the House Republican Conference has demonstrated an inability to form any kind of cohesive coalition or pass critical legislation without the help of Democratic votes—more Democrats than Republicans have voted for many of the bills that have passed—and they have been repeatedly embarrassed by showing up to the floor without having first counted their votes. Their majority, vanishingly slim at 219–212, has become something of a political fiction. In terms of the actual legislative work of governing, it has mostly ceased being functional.
This was the theme of the chamber’s proceedings on Tuesday evening, when Republicans announced their slate of impeachment managers prior to holding the vote on removing Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. The vote failed in spectacular fashion, with three Republicans1 breaking ranks and a convalescing Democratic representative—Al Green of Texas, recovering from a recent surgery—making a surprise appearance in a wheelchair and hospital scrubs to vote against the resolution. (Even habitual absentee Rep. Dean Phillips made it in the end, although he had missed the procedural rule vote that brought the Mayorkas impeachment to the floor earlier in the day.) Making things worse on the PR front, Speaker Mike Johnson himself announced and gaveled out the failing tally, which any staffer with the most basic understanding of optics should’ve prevented from happening by pushing another representative to do it in his place.2
Next week, Republicans will hold another vote on the impeachment resolution, but this time they are planning to make sure they have the correct numbers in advance. This they hope to accomplish by flying in Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), who has been seeking cancer treatment. Republicans expect to get enough of their conference together to be able to advance the impeachment articles on the strength of his additional vote, while the opposition will likely remain bipartisan.
This latest imbroglio in a long daisy chain of imbroglios typifies the House of Representatives during the 118th Congress. Incremental compromise bills are not entertained. The only things that can pass are nakedly political, and that means the only pieces of legislation that get out of the chamber are ill-defined and have no real policy impact.