Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s tighty-whiteys are flying high on the flagpole outside of the Capital building this morning, indicating his abject surrender to the House Freedom Caucus and his castration as a House speaker.
It’s a truly remarkable and historic turn of events. McCarthy’s concessions may allow him to be elected speaker, but they guarantee that the least governable House majority since the Civil War will emerge from the chaos.
The concessions are in a “framework” deal that emerged early Friday morning. A “framework deal” is congress-speak for “we’re kind of close to an agreement but are trying to put pressure on members to give in by announcing a deal prematurely.”
Indeed, unless the member has a personal ax to grind against McCarthy, this deal should allow most of the rebels to buy in.
It won’t be easy, automatic or immediate, according to House lawmakers who themselves were processing the information in real time as details of the deal emerged. But a written framework for rules in the 118th Congress was released on Thursday that McCarthy’s allies hope will allow many of the GOP lawmakers who have been voting against McCarthy all week to eventually support him.
Lawmakers said the framework gives members of the House Freedom Caucus (HFC) who have been resisting McCarthy virtually everything they’ve been asking for. That includes a stronger HFC representation on key House committees, guardrails aimed at curbing excessive federal spending, and allowing just a single member of the House to make a motion to replace the speaker, lawmakers familiar with the framework told Fox News.
Before we beatify HFC members as selfless saints, it should be noted that, like any good establishment pols, they’re fundraising off their “principled” rebellion.
Rep. Matt Gaetz’s (R-Fla.) campaign asked potential donors to “support our fight with critical reinforcements” and in one email dubbed McCarthy “Kiev Kevin.”
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) asked donors “to turbocharge our emergency efforts to break the Establishment.” His campaign emails link to a payment processing page that claims “every dollar helps secure the Speaker position.”
An email from Rep. Bob Good’s (R-Va.) campaign Thursday claimed that McCarthy “spent millions of dollars trying to defeat conservatives in Republican primaries” and closed with a donation plea.
Be smart: It’s common for campaigns to peg fundraising appeals to high-salience issues. But these emails are already fueling criticism from McCarthy backers who say they reek of opportunism.
Saint Gaetz and Saint Biggs disagree wholeheartedly with that statement — but you can make your checks payable to the re-election committees of the two members.
Allowing a single member to blow up the House by initiating a motion to vacate the speaker’s chair is a catastrophe waiting to happen. And McCarthy just handed them a bottle of scotch and the keys to the family car.
With such a slim GOP margin in the new House, Republicans will probably need everyone back before voting on McCarthy, and that makes a vote next week seem likely. Some of McCarthy’s most vocal opponents, such as Reps.-elect Matt Gaetz of Florida and Bob Good of Florida, are never expected to support him.
That fact alone is what will keep McCarthy’s path very narrow – he can only afford to lose four GOP votes, and if he wins the gavel, he will likely do so with the bare minimum 218 votes.
The GOP caucus is going to chew on the deal over the weekend and vote again, probably on Tuesday. But there’s a pretty good chance there’s going to be more drama before the rebels reluctantly allow McCarthy to take his seat. It will be interesting to watch the HFC train McCarthy not only to sit but to stand up, roll over, and beg.
He’ll be doing a lot of begging once he becomes speaker.