Good afternoon from Capitol Hill, where for the first time in 100 years, a Speaker of the House was not elected on the first vote. Or the second vote. This is because 19 conservatives voted for someone other than Rep. Kevin McCarthy (CA). And then on a third vote, the opposition increased to 20 conservatives who all voted for Rep. Jim Jordan (OH). Who were these courageous conservatives?
- Reps. Andy Biggs (AZ)
- Dan Bishop (NC)
- Lauren Boebert (CO)
- Josh Brecheen (OK)
- Michael Cloud (TX)
- Andrew Clyde (GA)
- Eli Crane (AZ)
- Byron Donalds (FL)
- Matt Gaetz (FL)
- Bob Good (VA)
- Paul Gosar (AZ)
- Andy Harris (MD),
- Anna Paulina Luna (FL)
- Mary Miller (IL)
- Ralph Norman (SC)
- Andy Ogles (TN)
- Scott Perry (PA)
- Matt Rosendale (MT)
- Chip Roy (TX)
- Keith Self (TX)
The House will resume voting to name a new speaker at noon today. So what are these conservatives asking for? Last July, the House Freedom Caucus (HFC) released a public list of reforms they consider essential to fixing the broken Congress. They include restoring an open legislative process, empowering committees, giving conservatives representation on key committees, enforcing spending responsibility. By all accounts, the HFC members approached McCarthy to negotiate an agreement on these reforms, yet no agreement was reached. Yesterday, HFC Chairman Scott Perry released this statement before votes:
“We asked for firm commitments on concrete policies for the benefit of the American People. When asked to promise votes on (1) a balanced budget, (2) the Fair Tax Act, (3) the Texas Border Plan, and (4) term limits for Members of Congress, he refused.
“We requested transparent, accountable votes on individual earmarks that would require two-thirds support to pass, and to ensure that all amendments to cut spending would be allowed floor consideration. He dismissed it.
“We demanded that he cease his efforts to defeat competitive conservative candidates in open Republican primaries. He denied it.
“Kevin McCarthy had an opportunity to be Speaker of the House. He rejected it.”
Rep. Matt Gaetz also detailed the failed negotiations, saying McCarthy refused to offer commitments on policy and process reforms. Adding to the conservative concerns, it was reported that last year, McCarthy used party political organizations in an attempt to defeat conservatives in primaries. McCarthy has also leveled a threat that he will block members from serving on committees if they continue to oppose him.
After the votes, there were accusations made that some conservatives were asking for appointments to key committees as some personal benefit. However, Rep. Chip Roy explained last night that the names put forth for committee seats were at McCarthy’s request to advance negotiations.
So what is the path forward? There will be at least a 4th vote for Speaker today, possibly more. As Politico reported this morning: “Indeed, at this point, it’s difficult to see a path to the gavel for McCarthy.”
There seem to be two possibilities to end the standoff:
1) McCarthy agrees to more serious conservative reforms and wins the gavel. In fact, there are multiple reports that McCarthy allies worked with rank and file members last night to seek agreement on these concessions and there may be more movement today.
2) Members tire of the votes and demand McCarthy step aside. If he can’t show momentum going his way, it’s likely more members grow weary of the failed votes and ask for a more unifying candidate to step forward. That candidate would also have to win over the 20 conservatives, likely agreeing to more reforms they have outlined for months. Reports of possible replacements have included Reps. Jordan, Steve Scalise (LA), Elise Stefanik (NY) and new Republican Study Committee Chairman Kevin Hern (OK).
It should also be noted, the intensity of this floor fight shows why change in a broken Washington is so hard to achieve. Conservatives, led by the House Freedom Caucus, have offered a series of reasonable requests that will democratize the House and bring accountability back to the Congress. That their efforts are being opposed so strenuously by the political establishment and their proxies in the corporate media should demonstrate how difficult conservative reforms are to achieve in Washington. The HFC should be applauded for, as Russel Kirk famously exhorted, seeking out “the old virtues” and “bring[ing] them back into the light.”
How this moves forward depends on the members the people elected to represent them handle the next few hours and days. As Dan Bongino stated: “This isn’t chaos, this is a Republic.”
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One more thing…
In case you missed it, the South Carolina Freedom Caucus scored a major win to protect children when it forced the Medical University of South Carolina to stop their experimental transgender treatments on children.