Over the weekend, House Minority Leader [mc_name name=’Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’P000197′ ] indicated there may be “an openness” among some House Democrats to voting for a Republican speaker on the floor. Pelosi claimed to be concerned about the turmoil surrounding House Republicans, which she said could end up helping put Democrats back in charge come 2017 (as if she would just hate for that to happen).
“I think in our caucus there is interest and support. There’s an openness to a bipartisan approach to this,” Pelosi said during an interview at the Texas Tribune Festival. She didn’t actually endorse anyone, suggesting that doing so, “would be the end of him.” Roll Call reports on what’s motivating Pelosi’s reach across the aisle:
“Were a power-sharing coalition to emerge in the House in Washington — similar to the arrangement in the Texas Legislature, where a more moderate Republican relies on Democratic votes to be speaker — Pelosi talked about what she would want in exchange for votes from her members.
‘Comprehensive immigration reform, background checks … for gun safety, a civil rights bill. You know, I have a few things that I might be interested in,’ Pelosi said. ‘In addition to the full faith and credit of the United States of America, a transportation bill … keeping government open.’”
Devious intentions aside, Pelosi’s right about the disarray as the GOP goes about replacing [mc_name name=’Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B000589′ ] who will retire at the end of the month. Ashe Schow has described the situation as an “unmitigated disaster:”
“Since Mr. McCarthy’s departure from the race, the House has been thrown into chaos. The top contender is now congressman and former vice presidential candidate [mc_name name=’Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’R000570′ ], who seems disinterested in and uncommitted to seeking the position. Mr. Ryan is already under attack as “less-than-conservative” by the House’s right wing.”
“With Mr. Ryan waffling on his desire to be the next House speaker, multiple other names have been floated. [mc_name name=’Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’M001159′ ]? Not interested. Lynn Wesmoreland? Only if Mr. Ryan doesn’t run. [mc_name name=’Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’R000580′ ]? Who?
The only other declared candidate is [mc_name name=’Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’C001076′ ] of Utah, who has been a congressman since 2009. Reps. [mc_name name=’Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’F000461′ ], [mc_name name=’Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’S000250′ ] and [mc_name name='[mc_name name=’Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’R000577′ ] Zinke (R-MT)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’Z000018′ ] have all expressed interest in running for the position as well.”
Another element which has changed the dynamics of House Republican is that although [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ]’s presidential campaign is gaining momentum in the polls, his influence with House conservatives has declined.
As congressional leaders gear up for the high-stakes round of negotiations over the year-end spending package and the debt limit, Cruz has become less of a factor in projecting what can pass the House. [mc_name name=’Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’S001192′ ] (R-UT) points out, however, that “his presidential candidacy, obviously, takes him a step or two away from being involved with the House as much as he was before.”
Other Republicans have commented that they don’t believe Cruz will be a driving force with House conservatives as this year’s negotiations heat up. “He’s a good friend and he’s a very strong conservative. I think his influence was always exaggerated. We just happen to agree with him on a lot of things. I’ve had no discussions with him about the budget this time,” [mc_name name=’Rep. John Fleming (R-LA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’F000456′ ], a Republican from Louisiana and member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said.
Cruz has recently escalated his criticism of Republican leaders, accusing them of folding when faced with Obama’s executive actions on immigration, the funding of Planned Parenthood and raising the nation’s debt ceiling without major concessions. “Republican leadership responds to every challenge by surrendering at the outset,” Cruz opined in a Politico op-ed.
And, [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ] (R-KY), Cruz’s rival for the Republican presidential nomination, as a guest on Kilmeade & Friends, took the opportunity to chastise Cruz, claiming he “is pretty much done for and stifled” because of a “lack of personal relationships.”
Cruz defended himself against these charges, during an appearance on Hannity to discuss his campaign and the latest polling. Echoing the assessment of many conservatives, Cruz argued that the GOP establishment “looks down on the voters who elected” them.