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Jim Jordan Steve Scalise, Lauren Boebert
Left to right: Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Steve Scalise (R-LA) talk while Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) speaks at a press conference at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, June 8, 2022. Photo credit: © Rod Lamkey/CNP via ZUMA Press Wire

No matter who becomes speaker, chaos will reign in the chamber as long as the GOP is in control.

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Anybody who tells you that they know for sure what is going to happen next in the House of Representatives is a liar because not even the main protagonists have any clue. The only thing for certain is that there will be total chaos, and it will be incredibly stupid and detrimental for the country.

In other words, it’ll be par for the course for House Republicans. 

The first order of business is finding a new speaker. Predicting what will happen here is the easy part, seeing as there are only two candidates — Reps. Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Jim Jordan (R-OH).

If Republicans elect Scalise, he would be the most conservative House speaker in history. And, in case you were wondering, he is the moderate in this race. Ideologically, Jordan is far to his right.

Since this GOP does not do “moderate” (even if that moderate is already an extremist, as in this case), you gotta believe that Jordan has a decent chance to win this thing.

There are several reasons for this.

First and foremost, Scalise is the most sensible solution* and the last off-ramp before the GOP clown car heads to Crazytown.

If, somehow, the entire caucus can rally around him and put in place a rule that prevents any five Republicans getting rid of him for any reason, things will only be slightly chaotic.

But don’t hold your breath, because these Republicans also don’t do off-ramps or slightly chaotic.

And, in any case, it has been pretty clear for some time that Crazytown is the destination, so it just seems like destiny that Jordan will end up at the wheel.

What speaks for him above all is that the large far-right faction of the House GOP is unyielding, and, while Scalise might be an apparently palatable “compromise” choice, Jordan is one of them.

So, if a few of the far-righters band together and refuse to back Scalise under any circumstances, then what’s going to happen? The few moderates who are left in the party simply lack that kind of dedication.

Oh, and Donald Trump, who is still calling the shots in his party, is backing Jordan. 

There are enough Republican lawmakers right now whose appetite for funding the government is slightly less robust than that of a vegan looking at a Five Guys menu.

However, it almost doesn’t matter who becomes the next speaker because of the aforementioned dysfunction and chaos.  

There is also no telling when the House GOP will choose its new leader. What we do know is that the clock is running out on the continuing resolution that will fund the government until mid-November.

When it does, people will realize that the shutdown that loomed last week was not “averted” but merely delayed.

There are enough Republican lawmakers right now whose appetite for funding the government is slightly less robust than that of a vegan looking at a Five Guys menu.

They’ll do it, but it will require massive concessions.

Take Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL), who said she would only support a speaker willing to defund the efforts to prosecute Trump. An omnibus spending bill, which is what it will take to keep the lights on in the US government, would be the perfect vehicle for that.

Other far-right lawmakers will have similar ideas, and the next speaker will need just about all of them to prevent a shutdown (if they even want to). They will be forced to operate with the same tiny majority that proved to be Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) undoing.

In fact, that majority might even shrink a bit more. Stripped of his speakership, McCarthy might just call it quits, and there is no telling how much longer Rep. George Santos (R-NY) can dodge expulsion now that one of his campaign aides pleaded guilty to fraud.

But let’s assume both McCarthy and Santos stick around a bit longer. That doesn’t change the fact that the new speaker will face the same dilemma as the old: There are not enough GOP lawmakers in the House who even want to prevent a shutdown.

Granted, maybe Republicans can pass some kind of insane omnibus bill that defunds the Department of Justice, requires the placement of minefields at the southern border, and demands that Biden resign and Trump be reinstated as president (or similar nonsense).

But, when that measure is laughed out of the Senate, which will craft a real bill, there will come a time when the two chambers have to reconcile their versions of that legislation.

From that point on, there are no more good options for the new speaker because it certainly looks as though the only way to pass a compromise version of such an omnibus spending bill is with the votes of Democrats.

That leaves Jordan/Scalise with two options: Put the needs of the country ahead of his own ambition and, within days of becoming speaker, risk getting bounced from that position again, or do what the Republican base wants and burn it all to the ground.

And that’s just what awaits them — and us — in this shutdown fight.

There are also plenty of other issues on which the far-right segment of the caucus will demand action, mainly the impeachment of Biden and various other officials, making Hunter Biden’s life even more miserable, and, of course, denying further aid to Ukraine.

In each of these cases (and, in fact, in perpetuity), they will face the same dilemma: Do what the crazies want or work with the GOP’s moderate fringe and Democrats to get something done.

Because of his own right-wing credentials, Jordan might be able to keep the extremists at bay a bit longer, but that won’t work forever.

At some point, even he will have to choose between continuously yielding to these legislative terrorists or putting the needs of the country first and risking his job.

*Obviously, there is a much more sensible solution: Find a moderate-ish Republican and ask the Democrats to support him/her in return for the promise of putting a few pieces of sensible legislation to a vote (like a new Voting Rights Act), then compromise on legislation going forward and actually get something done. But, while the House GOP does crazy all day long, it doesn’t do compromise. 

Author

  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a writer, editor, former congressional reporter, and director of the WhoWhatWhy Mentor Apprentice Program. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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