It seems a bipartisan solution is the only sensible way out of the mess the House GOP has made... but that doesn’t mean it will happen.
Listen To This Story
House Republicans are so amusingly inept that, if the stakes weren’t so high, their inability to select and confirm a speaker would just be hilarious.
However, because the role of the House of Representatives is not limited to incompetently investigating Hunter Biden and providing comic relief, the current impasse over who should lead the chamber will have to be resolved at some point.
As we have predicted, there was never much of a chance that the House would play a productive role in government with this particular group of Republicans in control (and we use the term “control” loosely).
And that’s exactly what happened.
From the very beginning, it was clear that the House would be ruled by chaos and not a speaker. Sure, after 15 rounds of voting, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) got to hold the gavel for a few months, but that was always only going to last as long as the House didn’t have to take any meaningful votes.
In fact, it was a bit of a surprise that he even managed to survive the debt ceiling increase earlier in the year.
McCarthy wasn’t going to get lucky twice, so the second time that he relied on House Democrats to pass a measure vital to the US economy doomed him.
In the 10 days since he got the boot, Republicans have demonstrated that they are incapable of finding a replacement from within their ranks.
Although he (barely) won a vote making him the official nominee, Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) realized within a day that he was never going to get the required 217 Republicans to back him, which is why he abandoned his quest to become speaker late Thursday.
In fact, it seems increasingly unlikely that anybody could get the backing of enough GOP lawmakers to become speaker.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) might try next. He would certainly have less trouble consolidating the sizeable right-wing nut job vote.
However, uniting behind him would also symbolize a capitulation to the radicals who keep holding the GOP conference hostage until they get what they want.
That’s not a good look, and it might even be a bridge too far for the few (often-spineless) GOP moderates that are left in the House (“moderate” doesn’t actually mean “moderate” in this case, it means “less extreme”).
Then there is the Trump option. Several GOP lawmakers have floated his name as somebody who could unite Republicans.
Making the former president the current speaker seems like such a dumb and outrageous idea that nobody could possibly consider it. However, “dumb and outrageous” is the sweet spot of this entire affair, so don’t rule out the possibility of this “idea” being entertained, especially if Trump, who would love to be viewed as the savior, stokes the flames.
In the end, nothing will come of it… obviously. An actual circus clown would be better at the job than the former president, and eventually, everybody must come to the conclusion that this makes no sense for anybody.
Finally, because these Republicans seem incapable of finding actual, workable solutions on their own, they might try a workaround: keeping Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry (R-NC) around indefinitely and expanding his authority.
That may well be unconstitutional, but who cares, right? In their view, it is certainly better than turning to the one actual solution that seems readily available.
At literally any moment, any Republican could approach the Democrats and say: “Guys, let’s work something out.”
If McCarthy had chosen that route last week, we wouldn’t even be in this mess.
When his job was on the line, instead of trying to throw them under the bus and falsely blaming them for trying to shut down the government, he should have just gone to the Democrats and said: “I’m going to need your votes to remain speaker. If you help me, I will give you XYZ.”
Sure, he would have had to pay a steep price, but governing always involves compromises… especially if you are a House speaker with a tiny majority and a bunch of insane people on your team.
Believe it or not, that option is still on the table for McCarthy.
He could reach out to Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and say: “Listen, I screwed up. I’m really sorry for being such an ass, please help me get my old job back and I will work with you on the following things.”
To be sure, the price will have gone up since last week. Politically, this chaos is good for Democrats. However, they also seem more likely to put the good of the country before partisanship.
And if not McCarthy, it can be some other moderate-ish Republican. There are a few left.
Also, it is important to note that allowing votes on Democratic priorities does not mean that they pass.
You might not get 217 Republicans to agree on electing one of their own as speaker, but we’re pretty sure that they’ll agree on torpedoing bills like a new Voting Rights Act or some reasonable gun reforms.
Granted, the Democrats will also look for something more tangible than just promises of votes, but whatever it is, it will be a small price to pay in light of a looming government shutdown and a massive conflict in the Middle East.
Obviously, the vast right wing of the GOP would lose their minds if bipartisanship were the solution, but maybe it’s time to clip their wings a bit.
In any case, once Jordan fails (if he even tries) and the speaker pro tempore patch doesn’t work, it is the only option that would make sense and allow the House to perform its constitutional duties.
The problem is that “making sense” isn’t the GOP’s strong suit, and many Republican lawmakers don’t actually want to see the House, or the US government, function at all.