The fiasco in the House of Representatives may be drawing to a close, as 14 of the 21 Republicans who collaborated with Democrats to prevent the organization of a Republican House have now come to their senses. Only a few more need to wake up, and Republicans can start carrying out the duties for which they were elected.
How much damage have the tiny minority of sellouts done? Quite a bit, I think. Democrats have been ridiculing the GOP non-stop for the last week, and the party’s inability to organize the House has lent credibility to one of the chief criticisms of Republicans: they are fine as back-bench bomb throwers, but they can’t govern. If you haven’t noticed, today’s GOP does not stand high with most voters, and this week’s clown show obviously hasn’t helped.
The longer-range question is whether the power of the Speaker has been impaired. I consoled myself regarding the GOP’s narrow House win in November with the reflection that in the House, unlike the Senate, it doesn’t much matter how big a majority you have. Under the House’s rules, the Speaker is in charge. Nothing comes up for a vote without his or her approval. This is why the Democrats were able to govern the House effectively in recent years, even though they, too, had a slim majority. So, I thought, be the majority large or small, Republicans control the House.
But in order to win over the egomaniacal 19 (or 20, whatever it turned out to be), Kevin McCarthy had to make a number of concessions. They are summarized here.
How significant are they? Most are minor, and some are good ideas. Perhaps the most damaging to the Speaker’s authority is the agreement that a single House member can call for a vote of no confidence in the Speaker. (Of course, this applies only to Republicans. Democrats aren’t that dumb.) I don’t know how much impact this change will have: hopefully not much, since the current threshold apparently is five votes. But it is one more instance of how Republicans continually lose the political battle to Democrats because we don’t know how to fight effectively.
Let’s hope that by Monday, House Republicans will be able to get to work. And let’s hope that the caucus’s tiny minority of egomaniacs hasn’t done permanent damage, and will not collaborate with Democrats in the future. And as far as I am concerned, the sooner they are run out of the party the better.