Saturday, October 21, 2023

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Beyond Melodrama In D.C.

Following the melodrama of the ouster of Speaker of 

the House Kevin McCarthy two weeks ago, the

Republican majority have successively nominated

two members, Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Jim

Jordan of Ohio to succeed him, but failed in both cases

to produce the 217 votes necessary for election. Mr.

Jordan, after coming up short on three ballots,

suspended his effort, and said he would support electing

the current Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry of

North Carolina, thus giving him, albeit temporary, 

expanded powers so that the House can resume doing

business over the next several weeks, including acting

on aid to Ukraine and Israel, as well as vote  before the

new deadline to pass the national debt limit.

The ouster of Mr, McCarthy was made possible when,

to win the speakership, he agreed to a rule that only

a tiny group in his GOP caucus could remove him as

speaker. It was almost certain then that a few unhappy

GOP members would eventually take advantage of

this rule — and when Speaker McCarthy agreed to a

temporary delay in acting on the proposed budget

deficit, a small number of  his Republican colleagues

moved successfully to remove him as speaker.

When GOP members then nominated Majority Leader

Steve Scalise to replace Mr. McCarthy as speaker,

the caucus failed to elect him, and subsequently

nominated Jim Jordan of Ohio to be the next speaker.

After three ballots, Mr. Jordan was several votes short 

of what needed to be elected, and he then agreed to

suspend his effort, as already noted, and to vote to 

give Mr. McHenry added powers so that the House 

could resume its regular business over the next 

several weeks.

This plan was rejected by the whole GOP caucus,

including canceling Mr, Jordan’s nomination.

The Republican majority is now back to its condition

just after Speaker McCarthy’s removal, i.e., no speaker

and no ability to conduct House business.

Several members have now announced they will run

for speaker, but no one yet appears to have the 217

votes necessary to win.

The Democratic minority has been united in casting its

212 votes for Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries on every

ballot so far, and have understandably painted the GOP

majority as dysfunctional.

Speaker Pro Tem McHenry probably has enough votes

to expand his powers so that the House could function

through January, but he has so far refused  to serve in

any capacity beyond his current duties to preside over 

the vote for a permanent speaker.

The GOP caucus has not yet rescinded the rule that one

member can move to vacate the speakership, and with as

few as five other members, force a speaker to step down.

If this is not done, it seems impossible for the Republican

majority to function going forward.

As the days go by, and the next deficit deadline approaches,

as does the necessity of the House to act also on critical

legislation regarding aid to Ukraine and Israel, the political

damage to the prospects for the Republican Party in general

in 2024, and the re-election of GOP members, worsens.

If not resolved very soon, it becomes a spectacle unworthy 

of a party which seeks to govern the nation in 2025.


Copyright (c) 2023 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.


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