It’s been a dizzying month is Congress since I first published this article on Substack. It’s worth knowing how our country got here politically. Libertarian bullies have been wreaking havoc in the Arizona Legislature for years. Now they’re going it on the Congress.
Republican Chaos: Arizonans Have Seen this Movie Before
In an historic move on October 2, 2023, “Freedom” Caucus member Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) called for a vote to remove Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) from the Speaker’s chair. On October 3, 2023, by a vote of 216-210 the US House of Representatives made history and removed McCarthy as Speaker. All of the House Democrats and eight Republicans voted to oust McCarthy.
On September 30, McCarthy revealed a deal with the Democrats to stop the US government from shutting down that night and set up a 45-day deadline for a budget. They did the right thing.
That bipartisan effort to stop a federal government shutdown, preserve people’s paychecks and protect our country’s financial standing prompted Gaetz and other Republican hardliners to move against McCarthy. (Mind you, all of them — including McCarthy — are election deniers and acolytes of former President Donald Trump. It’s not as if McCarthy is a flaming liberal. They are eating their own.)
As of today, October 20, the US House of Representatives has been without a Speaker for more two weeks. In the background, the 45-day deadline for stopgap funding to keep the US government open is creeping up.
The House should be hard at work on the budget instead of playing political games. The hardliners don’t have the votes. None of the ultra conservative Republicans, who have tried to win the Speaker’s chair, have been able to get a majority of Republicans to vote for them.
Democrats are hanging tough against all of the hardcore conservative Republicans who have stepped up to run for Speaker and who are to the right of McCarthy — Reps. Austin Scott (R-GA), Steve Scalise (R-LA), and Jim Jordan (R-OH). Today, literally moments ago, Jordon lost his third bid for Speaker of the House.
How did we get here?
In order to win the Speaker’s chair back in January 2023, McCarthy suffered through 15 humiliating rounds of votes and made many concessions to the far right wing of his party. He let them chair committees, let them propose and bring their extreme bills to the floor and agreed to a rule change that allowed any member to call for a vote to remove the Speaker. That last concession did him in. It was a rough nine months for McCarthy as Speaker. Rather than deal with Democrats, McCarthy catered to the right and like rabid dogs, they viciously bit the hand that reached out to them.
Apparently, the ‘Gang the Couldn’t Shoot Straight’ didn’t have a game plan beyond dumping McCarthy.
Mainstream Congressional Republicans need the Democrats to govern, but they have not completely accepted that fact.
The problem is that for years, mainstream Republicans — like Senator Mitch McConnell and former Arizona Speaker Rusty Bowers — have been bowing to right wing extremists in order to hold their thin majorities together and to pass their worst ideas on party line votes. At the federal and state levels, the Republican Party chose to cling to power, rather than to govern. McConnell and other old timers like Senator Lindsey Graham initially balked at Trump’s brash authoritarian ways, but eventually supported the extremists in their party in order to hold power. The old school Republicans wanted to continue the status quo, which has allowed them to game the system and pass loads of legislation on a party line vote with little or no debate.
Ironically, one of the newly elected Republicans from Arizona, Rep. Eli Crane, said he voted for the right-wing rule changes, against McCarthy, and for Jordan for Speaker because he wanted to end the status quo in Congress.
Dude, you and your cronies helped the Democrats break your own party’s status quo. (Woo hoo! Continued on Substack here.
To continue reading this article, as well as Dems: Go Big or Go Home. Run in Every Race in 2024! and Ohio Abolitionists Should Haunt Rep. Jim Jordan at Powers for the People on Substack here.