Two Huge Obstacles for Kevin McCarthy
Author: Greg Valliere
January 6, 2023
January 6, 2023
AFTER NEGOTIATING WELL INTO THE NIGHT, supporters of Kevin McCarthy think their latest concessions can produce a deal, but they face two huge obstacles: moderate Republicans are aghast over these concessions, and the hard-core four or five McCarthy opponents — just enough to defeat him — show no signs of budging.
THUS IT STILL APPEARS THAT a handful of far-right election deniers has the power to bring the House to its knees — which will have major policy implications if this isn’t resolved soon.
THE VOTING TODAY, set to begin at noon, could be pivotal. McCarthy’s supporters expect to lose the first vote, with a closer margin than earlier this week, which could lead to a much closer second vote, they believe.
BUT GOP MODERATES are close to rebellion, especially over a McCarthy capitulation on several issues, including an outrageous proposal that would allow one single House member to launch a process that could remove the speaker. Another proposal would radically change seniority protection for veteran committee leaders.
THE GREAT IRONY, OF COURSE, is that McCarthy’s willingness to neuter the role of speaker has not budged the five House hard-liners, who apparently will not vote for him under ANY circumstances. And if they relented and accepted McCarthy’s concessions, he would have virtually no power.
SOME HAIL MARYS: All sorts of fallback options are on the table —
A potential new candidate, Rep. Steve Scalise, has widespread support but he is part of the House leadership, which makes him suspect in the eyes of the five holdouts.
A plan for House Democrats and Republicans to form a bipartisan alliance is unlikely; the Democrats are happy to watch McCarthy twist in the wind.
A scheme to reduce the number of necessary votes downward from 218 is under serious consideration but looks un-workable.
WHAT’S THE END GAME? Frankly, it’s not clear. A continuing impasse will begin to affect congressional oversight of foreign policy issues, and it’s likely that California will need several billion dollars in flood aid. Longer term, a huge budget fight looms,
raising the threat of a U.S. debt default. Eventually these threats will finally produce a Speaker, as Republicans conclude that this farce is badly hurting the party’s brand.
McCARTHY HAD A 70-30 CHANCE of becoming speaker just a week ago; now it’s barely 50-50, as five rebels hold the House hostage, adamantly refusing to compromise — regardless of McCarthy’s concessions, which have simply outraged the party’s moderates.
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