'Doomsday Scenario': GOP Circular Firing Squad Continues as House Speaker Race Looms

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

So here we find ourselves: 35 days until the GOP officially kicks Nancy Pelosi to the curb and regains control of the House, yet the continuing Republican internecine war threatens a “doomsday scenario” that could become a reality, with the Democrats effectively neutering the GOP’s power to govern.


No way, you think? Way.

As Breitbart reported, concerns are rising that so-called “establishment” Republicans might band together to make a deal with House Democrats to elect a moderate Republican as Speaker, with Democrat votes in exchange for a House rules change that would hand the incoming Democrat minority significant power over how subpoenas can be issued.

As screwed up as the Republican Party remains, I can envision that scenario happening.

Conservatives ranging from Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to Wyoming Congresswoman-elect Harriet Hageman — both of whom are vociferously supported by Donald Trump and in turn, vociferously support him — are nonetheless urging colleagues to coalesce behind Kevin McCarthy in the race for Speaker, while other factions of Trump-“leaning” Republicans continue to rail against the Minority Leader.

The Trump vs. McCarthy war within the GOP broke wide open after the “Great Red Wave” predicted by untold numbers of keyboard warriors instead became the Not So Great Red Trickle, with Democrats maintaining control of the Senate, and Republicans capturing the House by a fraction of the number predicted by many. Hence, as is always the case in politics, someone had to be blamed.

So… many Trump loyalists blamed McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, while many others blamed Trump’s continuing self-immolation? Who was right? Depends on who you talk to.


Here’s more, via Breitbart:

The way things play out from here is as follows: On Jan. 3, 2023, the new Congress will be sworn in and the old Congress will leave office. The first order of business in the new House of Representatives is that the chamber must elect a Speaker before conducting any other business.

To win the Speakership, a candidate must receive a majority of votes from every voting member in the new Congress who is present and voting for a person. If every voting member is present and votes for a person—in other words, if no one is voting “present” or abstaining and if no voting members are absent—McCarthy would need 218 votes on the floor to win the speakership.

There are 435 voting members of the House. Delegates from places like the territories of Puerto Rico and Guam as well as the District of Columbia do not get votes in this election.

Republicans will formally nominate McCarthy on the floor, and Democrats will presumably formally nominate their new incoming House Democrat Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY). Jeffries is slated to take over as the top Democrat when outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi steps aside in the new Congress.

Trump-Derangement Syndrome-afflicted Nancy Pelosi will remain a member of the House even though she is finally honoring her word and stepping down from Democrat leadership.


The Flies in the Ointment

Enter, House conservatives like Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Bob Good (R-Va.), Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), and Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.), who’ve said they don’t intend to vote for McCarthy and could deny him a win — even if they abstain, or vote “present.”

Given the slim majority the GOP will hold in the 118th Congress —they’ve officially won 220 seats (with two additional seats likely to be added when the final races are called) — any combination of five or more Republicans banding together to vote for someone other than McCarthy, assuming all other members are present and vote for a different candidate, can deny McCarthy the majority needed to win. Could it really happen? Of course, it could.

If McCarthy fails to win on the first vote, an alternative candidate could emerge and cobble together 218 votes or a majority of those present and voting. The House will keep holding elections until such time as it elects a speaker. Rest assured — or troubled — that every Republican who opposes McCarthy is not only well aware of this scenario but is also likely counting on it.

Then What? 

As I suggested earlier, a deal in exchange for future votes to change House rules and weaken subpoenas coming from the new House Republican majority to members of the Biden administration. (Alejandro Mayorkas, Merrick Garland, Lloyd Austin, et al.) is a distinct possibility.


The incoming chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Rep. James Comer (R-Ky), who backs McCarthy for Speaker, has warned of this concern, as transcribed by Breitbart:

I think it’s of the utmost importance that we agree on a Speaker. I believe it should be Kevin McCarthy. I believe it will be Kevin McCarthy in the end. But if we have four or five holdouts, that could potentially block Kevin McCarthy and that would allow the opportunity for some of the moderate Republicans to join with [the Democrats]. That wouldn’t accomplish the goal of conservatives that are upset with Kevin McCarthy.


We need to come together and elect Kevin McCarthy. Obviously, we’re never going to agree 100 percent of the time and we shouldn’t. We don’t need to be like the Democrats and have one leader and everyone follow that leader around like they did Nancy Pelosi. We’re going to have vibrant discussions and debates in our conference.

But at the end of the day, we have to agree on the person our conference voted overwhelmingly for, Kevin McCarthy, and not allow the Democrats to kick their foot in the door with a weak, moderate-to-liberal Republican Speaker of the House, which could happen.

I’m confident Kevin is going to be the next Speaker and I believe he is going to continue to give Jim Jordan and I the green light to do what we want to do with respect to holding this administration accountable.


Yet? The same Republicans who waste time blistering toothless former GOP Speaker Paul Ryan, continue to blast McCarthy as if he’s the Devil’s spawn.

The Bottom Line

There’s an old question that goes something like: “Would you rather be right or happy?”

Whether right — or simply refusing to admit wrong — I can’t imagine true conservatives with a genuine concern about the state of this country cutting off their noses to spite their faces by potentially inviting the Democrats to stick a foot in the door and working against Kevin McCarthy becoming the next Speaker of the House.

Come to think of it, this whole mess kinda reminds me of a possible doomsday scenario in 2024, you?


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